Friday, July 2, 2010

Open castings for Morecambe and Wise

Victoria Wood is to cast two unknown young actors in her Morecambe and Wise movie by holding open auditions.The comedy actress is behind a BBC Two film to be shown over Christmas in which she will play Eric Morecambe's mother.Now she wants to ensure the role is awarded on the basis of talent rather than go to a drama school wannabe.Morecambe and sidekick Ernie Wise were the nation's favourite comedy double act, keeping TV viewers in stitches and pulling in huge audiences.

The film When Eric Met Ernie will tell the story of how reluctant performer Morecambe was encouraged by his mother Sadie (Wood) to form the act with child song and dance star Wise. Wood is working with Bafta-winning writer Peter Bowker on the drama.

"We're going to the usual dance groups and theatre schools," Wood says, "But we also wanted to give a chance to kids without any formal training.

"At the time that he met Eric, Ernie was a seasoned song and dance man aged 13 or 14, and had been performing in a double act with his dad. He was top-of-the-bill in a touring variety show called Youth Takes A Bow. Ernie was a highly disciplined and focused performer who, by that time had already played the London Palladium.

"Eric was at the bottom of the billing, and his act was as a 'daftie', wearing long shorts and a beret, holding a big lollipop, and singing a song called I'm Not All There. At first the two were wary of each other – I think Eric saw Ernie as a bit of an egg-head – but they soon became friends, encouraged by Sadie."

"We're probably looking for four boys, really – two who look about 10 or 11 but may be slightly older, and two who can play Eric and Ernie at the age of 14 and 15 years old. We're quite open, and can adjust the script around whoever we find.

"It doesn't matter what they look like, but the hardest part will probably be finding boys who have Eric's sort of 'funny bone'." Victoria will be auditioning the boys along with casting director Jessica Ronane, who found the talent for Billy Elliot.

The film follows the development of the boys' friendship and the early part of their career

Eric was a naturally funny child with a quick anarchic wit, more interested in making his mates laugh than having a career in the theatre.

Ernie was a much more focused disciplined performer. He had played the Palladium by the time he was thirteen and when he met Eric he was top of the bill in a touring variety show with an accomplished song and dance act. When you see their polished double act of the 1970s, you can still see the limelight loving child star Ernie, and the daft wayward boy Eric - and those are the qualities we are looking for.

Eric - playing age of 12/13 years. We will see 10-14 year olds under 5 ft. No broken voices and must have authentic northern accent - preferably Lancashire. Must have basic singing ability, but we are really looking for that natural funny bone that Eric had even as a boy. Should prepare 3-4 minutes of stand up/silly jokes or a song or an Eric Morecambe impersonation.

Ernie - playing age of 12/13 years, but we will see 10-14 year olds under 5 ft. No broken voices, but must have authentic northern accent - preferably Yorkshire and basic tap and singing ability.

Should prepare between 3-4 minutes of tap AND/OR song and dance.

Boys who would like to be considered for the part of either young Eric or young Ernie should send a photo and their details to THIS CASTING IS NOW CLOSED. Selected candidates will then be invited to audition in Manchester on July 8 or Leeds on July 15.

Those auditioning for Eric should have an authentic northern (preferably Lancashire) accent, be able to sing and should prepare a few minutes of stand-up/silly jokes or a song or an Eric Morecambe impersonation. For Ernie, boys should have a genuine northern (preferably Yorkshire) accent, an unbroken voice, be under five-foot tall, and have a basic ability at tap and singing. They should prepare three or four minutes of tap dancing and/or song and dance.

Filming is scheduled to start at the end of August.

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