There couldn’t be a better person to act as Executive Producer of a Morecambe and Wise Show than Martin Clarkson
Martin, the most popular voluntary charity event host/MC/auctioneer in and around Chorleywood, has always had a passion for theatre with a special love of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise’s comic genius.
“Since I first saw them, I was totally addicted” says Martin, “ … they were our Saturday nights, our family Christmas. I sometimes sense there’s more of Eric Morecambe in me, than my own family DNA!”
Despite a demanding role as Chair of consultancy company Storytellers, Martin always makes time for getting involved with live theatre productions, notably working on the series of the Potted shows written by, and often featuring, eldest son Daniel, and more recently on An Evening of Eric & Ern, currently touring the UK.
Five years ago Martin was introduced to performers Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens by musician and keen golfer Mick Flinn who had seen their Morecambe and Wise act at The Stage Golfing Society.
“I wanted not to like them, believing NO ONE could ever be Eric and Ernie” adds Martin, “…but I loved them as soon as I saw them!
Martin soon became their mentor and confidant, encouraging them to work on a fuller, extended production.
The result, Eric & little Ern that launched at Ed Fringe, went on to run in West End theatres and a UK tour. It was a hit.
“What audiences enjoyed most was the second half of the play in front of the curtains and this was the inspiration for the second show An Evening of Eric & Ernthat’s now on the road – It focusses on all the classic moments ….Andre ‘Preview’, playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto, The Mr Memory routine, It’s all in there. They have a singer on board to replicate those wonderful guest comedy moments like Shirley Bassey too.”
Ian and Jonty are so close to the original duo in looks, mannerisms, voice and performance that they have won the hearts of Morecambe and Wise fans worldwide including celebs from Ben Elton to Miranda Hart and Barry Cryer as well as former Beeb Chairman Michael Grade.
But perhaps the greatest compliment of all is that their homage to the two comedy icons is much loved and appreciated by Eric’s wife Joan and son Gary.
An Evening of Eric & Ernis produced by Martin and has a further local connection, it’s directed by Dan Clarkson, ex pupil / student of Russell and St Clement Danes.
Catch the show at St Albans this month and if you go, be sure to check out the illustrated souvenir programme curated by Gary Morecambe, with the help of Martin, that includes amazing never-before-seen photographs from family albums as well as a detailed history of their career and an introduction by Gary.
An Evening with Eric & Ern, Alban Arena
Sat 13 October, 3pm and 8pm, £22. Souvenir Programme, £5