David Thorpe Photography

Professional Pix

Pictures for Money

Little Ern! I'd met him at a TV reception after Eric had died and he was working on his own. I suggested some pix at his house and he agreed. When I arrived I hadn't got a clue what I was going to do. But as we had a coffee and chatted, he was talking about the house and what a waste of space the swimming pool was. Idea! Would he get in his cossie and pose with his short fat hairy legs? 'Why not?', he said.

It made a nice pic for the News of the World, one of my best customers at the time. The picture editor was Frank Hart, a gentleman among picture editors. He treated photographers with respect and felt that by paying them fairly he would make sure he was offered all their best work first. It worked.

I photographed Eric and Ernie a few times in rehearsal. Morecambe and Wise were renowned for ad-libbing during their shows. It was interesting to watch them rehearsing these ad-libs!

Some years previously, I had a rather interesting experience on a helicopter connected with Eric and Ernie. I was on the Reading Evening Post and had been on a film set in Buckinghamshire where Eric and Ernie were filming. A local Reading helicopter company were flying up there to act as a camera platform for the shoot, so I copped a lift with them. The pilots were a couple of ex-military men, had flown against the Mau-Mau and were highly experienced flyers. After the shoot, we jumped into the chopper, an Alouette and headed for home, about 40 miles away. On the way, somewhere near Maidenhead, I heard the pilot say over the intercom to the co-pilot that the compass had packed up. I could see from my seat in the back that he was tapping one of the instruments. 'Doesn't matter', said the co-pilot, 'we can follow the railway line back to Reading' No problem, apparently and we lined up maybe 1000 feet above the track and tracked along it.

Then, I heard the co-pilot say, very matter of factly, 'I reckon we could fly through that tunnel.' I looked out and saw a railway tunnel about half a mile ahead. As we got close to the tunnel, we lined up over the track and were losing height rapidly. As the tunnel loomed up even I could see it wasn't even as wide as the whirling blades above our head. We were heading straight for it. It loomed up. I doubled up and threw my head onto my lap, hand over my head....waiting for the impact...the bloody idiots...what were they thinking abou...?

Suddenly, we were gaining height. The track was falling away beneath us, the tunnel entrance was behind us. The pilots were peeing themselves laughing. I was peeing myself too but not with laughter.