Bob Golding’s over-riding memory of Blackpool is being sat in an Indian restaurant while a man on a sitar played the theme tune to Ski Sunday.
Somehow I feel the late, great Eric Morecambe would approve of that.
Which is apt because he is the man Golding portrays in a one-man play coming to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre on Sunday which has won awards galore and is described as a must-see for anyone with so much as a passing interest in the comedian.
Golding hails from Cambridge and has appeared in all sorts of stage, radio and TV productions, including Downton Abbey.
He teamed up with writer Tim Whitnall for Morecambe and the play premiered to sparkling reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009 before heading to the West End.
He also performed as Morecambe at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen in Blackpool ... which is where his memories of the resort – and that Indian restaurant – stem from.
“That whole day was the most surreal of my life, topped off with that Indian,” laughed Bob, as we speak ahead of Sunday’s show.
“Doing the Royal Variety was unnerving to say the least. You step on stage and have 3,000 penguins staring back.
“Fortunately I knew the host Peter Kay, so that relaxed me. I’d appeared in a programme of his in Blackpool the year before, the one that was a take-off of reality TV shows.
“In fact Peter has seen Morecambe. He came to watch it in Liverpool and we did a Q&A on stage with the audience afterwards, as we often do. I was dreading it because I knew Peter was there and I knew he’d ask something.
“Sure enough, he put his hand up. Everyone cheered and the compere asked him for his question. Peter said ‘Bob, which Chinese are we going to?’
“Funnily enough I think Peter has the same sort of qualities about him that Eric Morecambe had, in the sense that people feel they can approach him. He feels accessible, an everyday man who has an extraordinary gift for comedy.”
Morecambe hasn’t been performed for a couple of years.
“I wanted some time off so my kids would recognise their dad,” says Bob – but has been revived because Golding wants the legacy of Morecambe (someone he describes as a fantastic bloke and a fantastic star) to live on.
The play isn’t just about Morecambe and his comedy partnership with Ernie Wise, but about his early life, how he was nurtured by his mum, his relationship with his father, and the heart condition which ultimately led to his death in 1984, 30 years ago.
Given Golding is the only actor in the show it means it is a physically demanding role.
“I play about 55 characters, though Eric is obviously the protagonist throughout,” he explained.
“It is hard work and now I’m on the wrong side of 40 (43 to be exact) I do feel it a bit more physically when I come off stage.
“But the response we get is so positive that it tends to make the aches and pains go away.
“I like to think the audience leave feeling like they’ve seen a full show because there is so much to take in.
“This is a new production from the original, all the songs in it were recorded with a big 17-piece swing band, so it’s a fuller, shinier version.
“The producers, one of who this time is Eric’s son Gary, have tried to take it up another level. But it’s still the same script and the same story about this wonderful man who managed to become probably this country’s most-loved comedian of all time.”
From the comedian’s humble beginnings in music hall to the Christmas show watched on TV by 28 million people, this Oliver award-winning play certainly sounds a cracker.
Tickets for Morecambe on Sunday’s are £19.50 and available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or the box office on 01253 743339.