The programme comes from the Platform in Morecambe, Lancashire. Paul Martin discovers the rags-to-riches story of the town's most famous son - Eric Morecambe.
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Today, we're in the seaside town of Morecambe.
It's bright and breezy and very cold - not the ideal weather
to get the bucket and spade out, but that doesn't bother us.
Welcome to "Flog It!"!
Morecambe Bay, it's a vast area of stunning views.
It's this natural beauty that attracted the first tourists
in the 1850s, when the railways arrived and our venue, the Platform,
was part of that holiday boom.
Built in 1907, it started life as a railway station,
when millions of people came to Morecambe for their holidays.
These days, the station has become an elegant venue for shows
and events like our "Flog It!" valuation day.
Our crowd's already starting to gather and somewhere in all of these
bags and boxes, there's some real treasure for our experts to find.
The lucky ones will be going off to auction and going home with a small fortune.
Who's it going to be?
Well, stay tuned and you'll find out.
It could be you, you, you or you.
And to help us find those antiques to flog are our dogged experts,
-Are you selling her?
I don't blame you. I don't blame you.
..and Charles Hanson.
I'm going to give you one of my green stickers,
and say I would like to identify these later.
Inside, our dedicated team of cameramen, researchers, stewards,
are doing their final check,
making sure everything is where it needs to be,
and that we have a great valuation day.
There's not a minute to spare.
-Are you ready to go in? ALL:
Come on, then, let's get on with it!
While everyone gets seated and comfortable,
let's see what's coming up later on in the programme.
Charles shares one of his top tips for buying antiques.
I think it's always right place, right time.
Well, yes. Yes.
Catherine's find brings plenty of smiles at the auction.
That's cheered you up, hasn't it?
-I'll come and see you again.
You should have bought more of them at the time.
And I discover the rags to riches story of Eric Morecambe,
the town's most famous son.
-Look at that, eh. Remember that?
Oh, do I remember? We used to use that in the act.
-Of course we did.
-Come on, do the gag.
-What's the difference between...
-I don't know, what is the difference?
Well, as you can see, everybody is now safely seated inside,
so it's time to get on with our first valuation
and it's over to Catherine Southon.
Jenny, it's lovely to see you here on "Flog It!", thank you very much
for coming along and thank you for bringing along your collection
-of World War I postcards.
So, first of all, we've got some nice little embroidered postcards
and these are the sort of things that soldiers would have sent back
to their sweethearts.
-But who did these come from?
Have these come through the family to you?
No, they haven't. When I got married in 1971,
I came up from Oxford and went into an unfurnished flat
on Morecambe promenade, this is 1971.
The estate agent said, "If there's any stuff you don't want,
"clear it out", but these two volumes I didn't have the heart to,
because it was obviously a love story between Gordon Atkinson
to a Miss Gladys Barker.
So, these two albums, am I right in saying, that they were just left
in this house that you moved into?
-Yeah, just left.
-I mean, you've got a huge collection here.
-Yes, all from him.
-All from him?
-But we know nothing about him?
So, is he writing these postcards throughout the First World War?
Is it just for a year or so?
No, this goes from 1915 right through to 1919, after the war.
-After the war.
-So he stayed in France.
So we have no idea whether he ended up with Gladys?
No, I'd like to think he did.
I'd like to think he did.
My goodness me. Let's have a little flick through.
I'm amazed that each one is written on.
Turn up any, it'll say, "Fondest love, Gordon."
Wouldn't it have been lovely to know what happened to them?
I'd like to have known what he looked like, to be honest. Or her.
Yes, but we shall never know.
But it wasn't just these postcards that were sent,
it was these as well.
We've got some which had sort of humorous scenes.
Yes, a classic, English, ironic humour.
It sounds to me, Jenny, like you've had a couple of really good evenings
sitting in front of the fire and going through the whole lot
-and having a really good read.
And I'm so pleased that someone who hasn't been connected with these,
yet, you have kept them.
This one is quite interesting.
A photograph here, well, a postcard, really, of all these soldiers,
and it says there on the back, "A few of our fellows."
And that's dated 1917.
-I've only known of these for five minutes and
I feel quite attached to them. I mean, you've had them even longer
-but you are happy to get rid of them now?
-Yeah. I think they can go now.
Well, I think it would be nice to put an estimate on of, sort of,
-£60 to £100.
I hope that there's a couple of old romantics at the auction
who feel the same way as us and that they make good money.
-Thank you so much. Thank you, Jenny.
Time now for Charles to catch up with Len, who he met earlier.
Now, you've brought along two walking sticks.
-I have, yes.
-Are you a collector?
Well, just starting, sort of thing.
Where do you find your walking canes? Do you go to antique fairs?
Car boots, charity shops.
I don't go to pay top dollar for them.
These weren't from charity or car boots, were they?
They were from charity shops.
-They were, yes.
May I have a look at one?
-What's this made of, Len?
I'm not quite sure about that.
-And it's a cracker.
Where does malacca come from?
-And they've been making canes from malacca for over 300 years.
We then look at this handle to the cane and what's really lovely is,
first of all, we've got these quite obvious Japanese or Chinese figures,
-which are repousse - or embossed - in relief.
And here we've got this Japanese elder with what appears
-to be Japanese script as well.
And what's lovely is a very indistinct monogram.
And I think it reads HRT.
And that would have been the owner's initials, and that Gothic type
-of script would date this to around 1885.
OK. Shall we do a swap?
We can, yes.
This one also is beautifully made in what appears to be
blackthorn of some type, an oriental hardwood, very dense.
And what I like so much is that wonderful colour,
which has been built up over the oily retreat of sweat
that's created that wonderful colour, and I love that collar,
there, as well. Not silver, but that...
It's got a nice finish to it.
That serpent just gives it that exotic feel and that would certainly
indicate to me a date of around 1885.
-Were they expensive when you bought them?
So, how much was this one?
Oh...2.50, that one.
It's amazing, and this one must have been more.
I like your style. I think it's always, right place, right time.
Well, yes. Yeah, yeah.
I wouldn't dream of paying £100 or anything like that..
Amazing. I admire you.
-What are they worth?
-I don't know. Tell me.
Well, I would say your £4.50,
you could multiply it by 20.
-And a bit more.
And I'd be very happy to put these into an auction
with a guide price of £100 to £150.
That sounds good to me.
-Are you happy?
-I bet you are. No, well done, you.
And I would probably put a reserve on, at the bottom estimate,
at £100 and, hopefully, they might just walk away.
I should have brought more. I've got more at home.
-Have you really?
-I can't believe it.
It sounds like Len could have an auction all to himself.
Meanwhile, has Catherine found a collection with Eastern promise?
this is a very colourful collection of accessories that you have brought
to "Flog It!" today. Where did you get them from?
Well, I inherited them from my father and aunt,
both of whom were the children of missionaries in China
at the turn of the century, through to the 1930s.
And this has all been, then, handed down to you?
It has, yes.
And where do you think they got all these from?
Do you think they got them from the locals?
Yes, almost certainly they were given by the locals,
who didn't have two pennies to rub together.
So, these were love gifts to them.
You've got some really lovely Chinese accessories.
The first thing one may think when you see shoes like this, indeed,
is that they were used for children - but they weren't.
They were more for adults and their feet would have been bound...
Yes, to restrain them.
-..as young children, to get into...
-To get into those.
..something like that.
So, these shoes have all been... They came back, when, in the '30s?
They came back in the '30s from China with a box full of things like this.
And this has just been sat in the same box...
-I mean, have you looked through it as the years have gone by?
Yes, we've had Chinese folk look at it and, of course,
it comes from their history, so they've been very interested.
Very interesting to see.
-And you've got a spectacle case here as well.
-What's your favourite piece?
-I love the waistcoat.
-And you, Richard?
-And mine as well, for sentimental reasons.
Well, I think, looking through it, one of my favourite pieces
are these little shoes.
-I think they're wonderful.
I'm especially interested in these because of the little
-cat motifs at the front.
-They are lovely, aren't they?
Now, do you know why cat motif?
-No, we don't.
-Well, the cat is known in Chinese culture
to bring good fortune, so perhaps that's why you would have the cat
on the front of the shoes,
but I just think it gives them such great character, I really do.
Well, I think, overall, this is a really interesting collection.
I think a lot of Chinese buyers would be interested in it.
Now, it's something that you want to sell?
-It's been in your family a long time.
It has, but I'm not sure the next generation,
who live in a different world now, would be interested in having it.
-We feel that some people will be interested enough
-to want to buy them.
I think, let's put it together as a nice little collection,
a nice group, selling it all together.
I wouldn't put a particularly high estimate on first of all,
but I would put say 80 to 120
as a nice sort of come-and-get-me estimate.
-I suggest that we do protect these
-with a reserve of £70 at least.
I think let's put 80 to 120, 70 reserve on,
-and I think we could well be surprised.
-I'd be happy with that.
Thank you very much indeed for bringing them along and thank you
-for sharing your family history.
-Thank you, Catherine.
What a find!
You know, it never fails to amaze me what turns up.
Next up, it's Charles, who's being served up an unusual little dish.
-How are you, Steven?
-Fine, thank you.
I feel like your lobster, giving it all that.
Tell me about this great object.
I bought it on a car-boot sale, it was either '89, or '90
and I paid £20 for it.
-1989 or 1990.
I gave £20 for that.
What drew you to this object?
-Well, I had some plates from Greece...
I saw this and I thought, "That's going to look nice above the cooker.
Yes. What I love about this is its three-dimensional form.
I know, yeah.
And just by lifting it up we can see how realistic that lobster is.
What's it made of?
Porcelain, I think.
-And, in fact, it's a lead glaze earthenware.
OK. And I dream that one day I would find an original
If this was original and dated to the 1550s...
-A very important man called...
Hold that thought.
-Bernard Pallisy was a very important man...
..who was born circa 1510,
who died in the late 16th century.
And he evolved this style of decoration on pottery in mainland
France in the mid-16th century.
If this was a genuine article, and was by the Pallisy School
of the mid-16th century,
it would be worth between 50 and £70,000.
Look at me.
If only. If only.
And our great Victorian friends revived the great Renaissance
in the late 19th century.
So I would date this marvellous lead glazed earthenware
to around 1890.
So when you bought it back in '89, was 100 years old.
-Does that surprise you?
So when I turn it over, what we can see on the back
is the fact it has been pierced for hanging.
And with this old wire we can see, you have quite rightly
had it on your wall,
in your kitchen for display
but there are no markings whatsoever.
We have got a very continental underside with this spun glaze.
-And that's a real Portuguese code
to the fact it is continental.
And I'm 90% sure this is Portuguese from around 1890
-with this majolica ground.
Now Victoriana is slightly out, the dust-gatherers are not so in.
We like the more minimal but to some collectors
it really is a joy. What's it worth?
Well, I was thinking £150.
Look at me. How much?
-£150, I was thinking.
-I like your style.
I like your style.
I mean, some Americans were quoting 499.
You are quite right.
And one thing I will mention - it is the Americans who do like
this very outrageous design.
I would like to guide it at between 50 and £80.
-It might make 100.
And I propose we put a reserve on at £40.
And I feel that is going to engage the buyer to really compete
for this object which, for its age, although not original,
is in mighty fine condition.
Let's hope there's some Americans at the auction.
The Americans are there, exactly. Thanks a lot, Steven.
That plate feels quite at home here in seaside Morecambe.
While everyone is busy here,
I'm off to do something completely different.
Canals, mills and weaving,
these have been part and parcel of Lancashire life for hundreds of years.
In fact, the first mill for cleaning
wool was built around here in the 13th century.
At that time weaving was carried out by farmers
to earn a little bit of extra cash.
Other people did it at home to make extra clothes when they needed them
but it wasn't until the 17th century
that people started to weave as a full-time job.
By the early 18th century,
Burnley was an industrial town with a thriving wool trade.
But it was still done at home, and usually involving the entire family.
However, when cotton and mechanisation arrived,
it brought about the end of the domestic weaving system.
Machines like the spinning Jenny, Arkwright's mule
and of course the steam engine
heralded the birth of the factory system.
Very quickly, Burnley and Lancashire as a whole
became the weaving capital of the world.
By 1914, over 8 million yards of cotton
were made each year in Lancashire.
That's 65% of the world's cotton,
processed here in the region and then shipped back out again.
And it was by far Britain's biggest export,
and in every sense of the word, part of our national fabric.
At one time, this square mile of Burnley had hundreds of mills
and over 100,000 looms.
The population of the town was only 70,000.
There was a lot of weaving going on.
As the 20th century moved on,
other countries like India, China and the USA started to catch up,
using new machinery to make cheaper cloth.
Britain failed to keep up,
and the industry went into an almost terminal decline.
Sadly, there are very few working mills left today in Lancashire.
But in Burnley, there is one mill that's still weaving.
John Spencer's, based in the same building for over 150 years,
has been family run since the 1860s.
-Hello, nice to see you.
David is the sixth generation of his family running the mill,
but their start in weaving was far more humble.
My family are like many families,
where we'd have been weaving in cottages out in the country.
And in the 1860s, when the Industrial Revolution started,
they would have just rented half a dozen looms,
then as the business grew, they'd take on more looms and
eventually would have enough looms to build their own weaving shed.
-So, basically, started with nothing.
-Started with nothing.
It's a good success story, isn't it?
It's been very difficult over the 30 years that I've been here
to see the mills around closing, and it's been really quite distressing
to see what's happened to what was once a great textile town.
Yeah, and I've been in many traditional mills
that aren't working now, but I've not seen a contemporary one working.
-Can we go and have a look around?
-Yeah, come and have a look.
Well, it looks familiar.
Lots of thread, lots of bobbing, very futuristic.
But what's going on here?
Well, here, we're making a warp, which is the threads
-that run down the length of the fabric.
So that's the first job that we have to make.
-A typical cloth might have 4,000 or 5,000 threads in the warp.
And we've got to take 4,000 or 5,000 threads off individual combs
-that you can see here...
..and then run them all together, get the pattern right
so that all the stripes are in the right place,
and then we run those onto our warping machine here.
This is mesmerising.
I mean, it really is so clever.
But I guess it hasn't really changed, has it?
No. The principles have been the same ever since somebody put
two sticks between a tree and started to put threads backwards and forwards.
For me, that's the beauty of weaving -
it's a relatively simple process.
All of these long threads, called the warp,
are put on a huge roller, ready to be woven.
And this is where the magic happens.
On the loom, another thread is passed to and fro,
creating a weave, and the cloth is made.
Before the 18th century, this was all done laboriously by hand.
Now, a key part of weaving during the Industrial Revolution was this -
the flying shuttle.
Patented by John Kay in 1733,
this enabled the weaver to work a lot faster as that shot across.
He could earn a lot more money.
But even this is now obsolete today.
That thread, that weft thread, is sent backwards and forwards
by virtue of two gripping arms, like a crocodile
which catches the thread and moves it backwards and forwards.
It is so clever and so quick, just watch it go.
These looms are great for making plain cloth
or fairly simple patterns.
When it comes to weaving more intricate patterns,
then David has to use a more complicated machine.
This is it.
The Jacquard loom, created in 1801 in France by Joseph Marie Jacquard.
This is an intricate piece of kit.
On this machine, we can control every single thread
across the whole width of the fabric.
The Jacquard machine can lift and drop every thread at will,
so that we can create a picture.
This is a little bit of fun that we were having for you, today.
I see that!
The Jacquard machine works on the same principle as the pianola,
using predesigned punchcards that a needle can drop through,
creating a pattern.
Some of the technology it uses is considered to be
a precursor to the earliest computers.
Weaving is one of mankind's earliest craft skills.
Woven fabric has been found that dates as far back as 9,000 years.
It's an integral part of our lives.
We all wear clothes that have been woven.
Now, as fast and amazing as these machines are,
weaving hasn't really changed that much.
It's still one thread passed over or under another thread.
It's a timeless skill, it really is.
It's a technique that just has not changed.
And there's something very reassuring about that.
Well, there you are. We're having a fabulous time here in Morecambe,
but right now, we've got some business to do in the saleroom.
Here's a quick recap of all the items
that are going under the hammer.
Will those albums from the bottom of the basement
get top price in the saleroom?
Let's hope the two walking canes from the boot sale
run at the auction.
And those Chinese shoes may be small,
but we'd love them to be a big hit.
And Steven's seafood plate is a great catch for us,
and is bound to hook the buyers in at auction.
We're heading east but only to the other side of Lancashire for our
auction, in the town of Clitheroe.
Our lots will be going under the hammer at Silverwoods,
where Wilf Mould is in charge.
The saleroom is filling up.
I'm going to catch up with our owners. Any minute now,
the auctioneer's going to be on the rostrum.
Let's get on with our first lot.
There's always commission to pay in an auction room,
so factor that in if you're buying or selling.
Going under the hammer right now,
we've got two fabulous postcard albums belonging to Jenny,
and we normally have good surprises with these.
-But I like the story that you found them in a dry cellar.
Did you want to do any detective work and try and trace families?
It's typical, it's something you think to do tomorrow...
-You know, tomorrow and tomorrow...
-And put it off and you never do.
..and put it off. And then, at the end of the day, I thought,
"Someone will be collecting these."
I think they're going to sell at £60-odd.
-There's a reserve of 50, isn't there?
They're going to sell. Let's find out what the bidders think.
It's going under the hammer now.
This album of 292 postcards
and then you've got an album of 180 souvenir postcards.
And we'll start these again on interest at £38.
38, looking for 40.
I have 38, 40.
Two, five, eight, 50.
Five, 60. Five, £70.
75. 80, five, 90.
And ten. 120.
At £120 on the front.
-Oh, my goodness me!
-140 now, if you like.
I have 130 bid on screen.
140 is bid.
150 now. 160, if you like.
At 150 then.
Are you all quite sure?
It's going at 150...
-Well done. 150, I think that's the right value.
-That's the right value.
There's local history there. There's so much history in those albums.
That's a great start to our auction.
Hopefully, that bodes well for our next item.
Going under the hammer right now,
we have that classic Palissy majolica plate.
I mean, it is lovely, isn't it?
-But they do collect a lot of dust when they're on the wall.
Did you have to dust this one a lot?
-I never touched it, just stuck it on a wall!
-So why are we selling today?
-Because I've changed kitchen.
OK, so it doesn't suit a contemporary style.
It doesn't suit my kitchen at all. I've gone very modern.
What they say with these plates is, the more of the creepy crawlies,
the better, the higher the value.
Because obviously, the work's gone into it.
But also, all the creepy crawlies are in good condition,
there's no knocks or nibbles, so hopefully we'll have a good sale.
Fingers crossed. It's not a lot of money for such a lot of work,
and it's going under the hammer right now.
We come now to this majolica Palissy-style wall plaque,
nice thing again, is this.
And I shall start this one immediately at £28.
-Oh, come on.
It went really quiet, like...
40. £40. 40 and two, now.
At 40 in the room, looking for 42.
At £40, come on, they don't crop up that often.
42 there. 42. 45.
48. At 48 from the lady at the back.
48. 50 now.
-£50. 55. 55.
60 again... 55 at the back of the room, there.
All done at £55, no more?
All done at 55.
And it's gone down. £55, that's a good result.
-£20, you paid for that, didn't you?
-25 years ago, that's a lot of money, actually.
And the good thing is, it's been on the wall out of harm's way,
-and that's the best thing for those little plates, isn't it?
-Thank you for coming in.
It just goes to show, it's worth looking after things.
Can we keep up the pace with those walking sticks?
I've just been joined by Len and in a moment, we're putting those
two walking canes under the hammer.
Bought for a total of - Charles, do you know this...?
-Could you do that?
Do you do a lot of this, sort of buying and selling?
Well, I look around shops and see what's going in car boots, yeah.
-And you're always learning and that's the main thing.
-Oh, yes, yes.
-We find that, don't we?
Len's got very discerning eyes so we've gone in quite strong
with the reserves. I'm hoping we can just hit the 100.
Look, let's find out what the bidders think,
because I think you're on the money here, I really do.
Good luck, this is it.
You've got the two items in this lot.
You've got a very nice root stock walking cane
and you've got the Chinese malacca walking cane
with a white metal, decorative pommel.
And again, interest on the pad.
I shall start these at £65.
-Here we go.
Five, 90. Five, 100.
-They're walking out.
-100 is bid in the room.
110 from anybody else?
I have £100, two good sticks here.
At £120, then...
All finished at 120.
£120. Well done, Len!
Will you reinvest that in some boot fairs
and some antique markets and some antiques shops?
-I don't think so.
-Probably go towards a holiday.
Oh, good. OK. Well, all right. Look after yourself, then.
Yeah, thank you very much.
No doubt, you'll be back out at the car boots.
Oh, definitely, yeah.
When the weather picks up.
A spot-on valuation by our expert.
Let's hope we have a good result with that Chinese collection.
Richard and Gail, it's great to see you again.
Fingers crossed, OK? It's a mixed lot, this one.
It really is. I mean, you've got something for everybody,
Chinese collectors, cos we've got spectacle cases, we've got little watches, as well...
-But everything's Chinese, and we've got a really nice selection, so...
Yeah, and I'm pleased you didn't decide to split them up,
-and I think the auction room's agreed with you, because otherwise they would've done it anyway.
And we're looking at 80 to £120.
-Good luck, both of you.
-Going under the hammer now.
Let's find out what the bidders think.
This collection of Chinese curios,
which are mainly silk embroidered shoes for bound feet.
Nice little mixed lot for you there.
And we shall start this straight on at £48.
48, 48 and 50 now.
50 is online.
-55, 60 now. 65.
Looking for 70.
£70 is on the screen.
75 now. 80 is bid now.
£80 - and five from anywhere else?
85. 90, all online at the moment.
-That's what we need.
95. I'll take 100.
-And 100 is bid. 100...
-Ooh, it's going up!
-130, 140 now.
140. Anybody else?
-Internet's in on it.
I'll take 170. At £160...
-It's a steady climb, but it's going in the right direction.
Anybody in the room? All done at 160. Online, then.
Well over the top there. Well done, Catherine.
That's a hard one to put a value on.
-It was a hard one.
-Yes, cos it's such a...
-But I'm pleased for you. I think that was a good result.
-And thank you for bringing such gems in, as well.
-Yeah, they really were good.
All done at 170.
Well, there you are.
That's our first four items under the hammer, done and dusted.
We're coming back here later on in the show, so do not go away.
Before we return to the valuation day to find some more treasures,
I want to find out more about one of Britain's biggest comedians,
who was a Morecambe boy in every sense of the word.
This modest house in Morecambe
was the birthplace of John Eric Bartholomew. He was born in 1926
and he went on to form the greatest comedy duo on British television.
He was also regarded as the funniest Brit of the 20th century.
You may know him better by his stage name, Eric Morecambe.
He took his surname from his beloved hometown
and he went on to become the funny bloke of Morecambe and Wise.
How you teamed up first, whose idea was it?
-Shall I answer that?
-His mother, actually.
-His mother, Eric's mother.
-Could take a long time, this.
Tell him the story. And let me interrupt and get a few laughs.
Like so many people,
I grew up laughing at the antics of Eric Morecambe.
The Morecambe and Wise Show
became one of the most watched programmes on British television.
But how did the boy from such humble beginnings in Morecambe
go on to be one of the biggest names in comedy?
Morecambe was a thriving resort,
attracting millions of holiday-makers,
who flocked to the theatres dotted around the town,
the largest of which was the Winter Gardens.
It was the ideal place for Eric's talent to be spotted
at a very early age.
Eric's eldest son Gary
has documented his father with several books
dedicated to his life and career,
including how Eric's mother played a pivotal role in shaping his future.
She'd seen her husband work for the council all his life
and it was literally down the mines, or digging roads,
and she wanted more than just that for her son.
And noticing that he had some kind of talent, it was worth pushing.
That's how she felt.
And that began with talent competitions, locally,
and he went from there.
By the time he was 13,
Eric was regularly performing in theatres around Morecambe,
like this one. In fact, he performed on this stage many times.
He won so many times that he actually was barred from taking part
for a short while to give the holiday-makers a chance of winning.
His natural comic genius soon caught the eye of scouts and agents
and he was booked on a big show to tour the country,
and that's where he met, in 1940, Ernest Wiseman,
who we know as Ernie Wise, another comic genius,
a child prodigy.
Both men were conscripted into military service
during World War II,
but joined forces soon after
and started performing as a double act,
touring the country and becoming known as Morecambe and Wise.
Thank you, thank you. Who's come on?
-Oh, it's us.
-All right, darling? Working?
Oh, you're up there, are you?
Oh, where have I gone? That's the wife.
Eric and Ernie weren't just talented comedians,
they were bright young men with vision, and forward-thinking.
They realised variety theatre was on its way out
and television was the future,
and that's where they wanted to be.
Eventually, in 1954, they got their big break -
their very own TV series, Running Wild, on the BBC.
Sadly, it was broadcast live, so no footage survives.
Unfortunately, it didn't go down very well.
I remember all the write-ups, all of them...
"How dare they put such mediocre talent on television?"
First man, "Is that a television in the corner?"
Second man, "No, that's the box
"they buried Morecambe and Wise in last night."
-Did you feel very depressed afterwards?
We said, "That's it, we're not going on television again."
Our career, we said, is in ruins. We didn't even have a career then.
But they weren't deterred.
They went back to the stage
and carried on doing what they knew best,
biding their time, honing their skills, refining their act,
and rebuilding their reputation.
Within weeks, they were billed to appear at Manchester,
and they went down a storm there,
and that sort of gave them their confidence back.
And they realised for the very first time
that TV always plays into your favour.
You can't go wrong with TV.
Because they were billed as these great comics of television,
type of thing. So it was wonderful, yeah.
The hard work and talent shone through.
Eventually, they got another shot at television, and this time,
they grabbed hold of it and didn't let go.
From then on, Eric and Ernie really took off.
And with success and fame came wealth,
and Eric splashed out on the car he always dreamed of, a Rolls-Royce,
and this is the model, a 1971 Silver Shadow.
Mike, pleased to meet you. You were his chauffeur.
-I certainly was.
-Mike drove Eric around in this very car,
still in pristine condition today.
So, how did you get to be Eric's chauffeur?
I got to be Eric's chauffeur when he was at the BBC,
and when the contract was finished,
Eric came to me and asked me to be his full-time chauffeur.
-And you just jumped at the chance?
After about two or three seconds, I said, "Yes, please."
And then I was Eric Morecambe's chauffeur.
-Can we go for a spin?
-Along the seafront? Come on, then.
-Let me do it, sir.
-Oh, thank you very much.
-There we are.
Oh, it smells good, doesn't it?
-Oh, the leather.
-You can smell... still smell the leather.
Ah, this is fantastic.
What does it feel like, driving the car now? I know Eric's not here,
but do you sometimes think Eric's in the back still,
whenever you're in this car?
Yeah. When you drive it, all those memories come back from years ago.
Sure. Every time I saw Eric on TV, especially in interviews,
he was really jolly and happy and he always had a smile on his face.
But you must have known the real Eric. What was he like?
He always worried about how it was going to come out
when it came out on television.
That was the first thing he asked me and asked everybody else was,
"Is it OK? Was it better than last time?"
And that was the pressure, really, of being on TV.
-Yeah, forever the perfectionist.
Oh, yeah, he was his own critic, as I say.
Everything had to be absolutely right.
Eric and Ernie worked incredibly hard
to make their comedy seem effortless and natural.
And the hard work and the stress of it all, staying at the top,
took its toll on Eric.
In 1968, aged just 42, he suffered his first heart attack.
It was obviously a massive blow,
but Eric wasn't going to let it affect him.
Eric and Ernie were now established stars on television,
and after Eric's health was back on track,
they recorded some of the greatest comedy ever,
with the stars of the day queueing up to be guests on their show.
Now I'd like to introduce to you the greatest star
we've ever had on the show. The one and only Sir Laurence...
-He can't come.
# Yeah, yeah, yeah... #
I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.
At the height of their success in the 1970s,
the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show
was about the biggest thing on TV.
An incredible 28 million people, including me, tuned in to watch it.
That's about half the population of the UK.
It was no longer a TV show, it was a cultural event
that certainly proved the critics wrong.
When you're getting in the 20 millions of viewers,
you know, it's a big thing.
People were literally defining their Christmas Day
on the quality of the show,
and when you do a great Christmas show, next year, what do you do?
It has to be at least another great show, if not better.
That was a lot of stress,
particularly on my father, because he was the renowned funny man,
the glue for the show, and he was carrying that burden,
and that was a real strain on his health.
In 1979, Eric suffered another heart attack
and needed a seven-hour bypass operation.
-Seriously, how are you feeling?
-What's the doctor's verdict, though, you've got to...?
Very good. I'm not really here at the moment, I am a recording.
-He's going to rest.
-I've got to rest.
-For several weeks.
-For a couple of weeks, is it?
You've obviously got to take it easy for a bit, though, presumably?
Well, if I can get a bit, I'll take it easy, yes.
-Intensive care unit, please.
See you. Bye-bye.
Eric and Ernie continued to make their TV series
for the next few years,
but obviously at a much reduced rate.
Eric finally slowed down
and took time out to write a couple of novels,
but sadly, in 1984,
Eric Morecambe passed away after suffering another heart attack.
He was only 58.
His funeral was attended by the biggest names of the day.
Ernie Wise, Eric's partner for 43 years,
described his death as the final curtain.
And I can remember that day well.
It was a terrible loss to the nation.
There was a real sombre mood in our house.
My mum and dad were really upset. They never missed an episode.
It was like losing a relative, really,
because he was always on our TV sets.
This statue of Eric was unveiled by Her Majesty The Queen
as a mark of respect to a comic genius.
People from all over the country come here
to have their photograph taken with Eric in the classic pose.
There's his binoculars, cos he was a keen twitcher,
looking at all the birdlife out there in Morecambe Bay.
And for me, Eric Morecambe was very much like his comedy.
He was clean, he was innocent, he was intelligent.
He never upset anybody.
He just wanted to make people laugh.
Time now to get back on with our valuations at the Platform.
There's still plenty of bags and boxes full of treasures,
and hoping to bring some laughter and sunshine to one lucky owner
is Catherine Southon.
John, good to meet you.
-You've brought along a rather nice diamond cluster ring.
Can you tell me a little bit about it, please?
I got it from a shop, it was about 30 years ago.
And I bought it for my wife.
And was it for an important time in your marriage?
Not really. It was close to 25 years,
-but I was working away and she wanted a pressie...
..so I took her out to the diamond shop.
And this is what she chose.
-Was it the biggest, shiniest ring in the shop?
-I think it was, yes.
-So, where did you meet your wife?
-Gosh, so you've been together all that time?
-So, 30-odd years ago,
this is sort of early '90s, about that sort of time?
Diamond cluster rings were very fashionable.
Cluster rings today aren't so fashionable, but nevertheless,
this is still a jolly nice example.
Do you know how many diamonds you've got there?
Not the number of, but I know I've got 2.19 total carats.
Right, OK. And do you remember what you paid for it,
-if you don't mind me asking? Back then?
Right, so that was a significant investment, then.
-That was a lot of money.
-A lot of money, then.
Let's just have a look at this ring. I'll take it off the little cushion.
-The diamonds are still sparkling...
-..and still look good.
And you've got here an 18-carat gold shank.
Now, the price that you paid, which was over £1,000,
you were buying retail...
-So you are spending, sort of quite high value, really.
And buying from a diamond shop, so you were really paying top dollar.
We are now talking about sending this off to auction
and you've got to think that the price will be reflected in that.
So you wouldn't be looking at £1,000,
you'd be looking at lower than that.
Also, thinking about the fact that, as I said before,
cluster rings aren't as fashionable as they once were,
I think value on this, you're looking at about 600 to £800.
-How does that sound to you?
-Are you happy to sell at 600 to 800?
-Yes, that's fine.
We can put a £600 reserve on.
-That would be ideal.
-You'd be happy with that?
-That would be ideal, yeah.
-But this has been with you,
or with your wife, for such a long time.
Why is it now the time to sell it?
Well, it's time for myself...
I've got two sons, but that's...
It gives me a problem, maybe, what son will get the ring.
-And so on, so I'd rather move on now
-rather than after I've passed away.
Your wife is no longer with us.
-No, she's passed away, almost six years ago.
Right, OK. So let's try and sell this ring
and perhaps, you know, enjoy the time with your sons, as well.
And hope that it does very well at auction.
Thank you so much for coming along.
-Thank you. Thank you very much.
We're still finding some great items.
It looks like Charles has found some Eric Morecambe memorabilia.
Ann, I was hoping today
-to come across something which would bring me sunshine...
And to come across this 1963 season Show Time pamphlet
signed by the great men themselves, Morecambe and Wise.
Tell me how you acquired it.
I was on holiday with my parents in Blackpool,
we were staying at my auntie's, and we always went to the pier show.
And that year, it was Morecambe and Wise.
-How famous were they back in '63?
-Not as famous as they became.
I suppose for me, when the great Mr Morecambe died in '84,
I was only eight.
-So I never got a chance to really see...
-..him and his great wingman.
-How good were they?
-Oh, they were brilliant.
Because they had the ability to make you laugh
without having to tell a joke.
They were funny.
-It was the way...
-..they just interacted, I suppose.
-So, this was Blackpool.
What I can see straightaway is here we've got the autograph
of Eric Morecambe just here - there he is, looking very youthful.
-And beside him, the great Mr Wise.
-Show Time, a show of the stars.
-It's just wonderful. And is it complete?
What do you remember about the show?
I remember standing outside, waiting for them to come out.
It was so thrilling that we could actually speak to them.
-A bit like yourself, you know.
-Get out of here. I'm a humble man.
And do you feel it's now time to say au revoir to this little...?
-Because it was in my autograph book in a dark trunk
and I know there are collectors that will appreciate it.
There really are. What's this autograph here?
It's Matt Monro's. He was also on the programme.
He was really well known.
-He was a really well-known ballader. Yes.
-And that's him here?
-Matt Monro. Wow.
-But did Morecambe and Wise really stand out for you?
-As a talent?
-And of course, what's lovely,
we've also got here the running order of that programme,
on that evening.
Oh, it's tremendous. I think it's wonderful condition.
-Apart from the back...
-..which obviously was stuck down.
That will affect value somewhat.
But the autographs, particularly, are nice and clear.
-And the fact that you were there on that very night...
-And pedigree is so important to say, Ann, as a 14-year-old,
saw the hands that signed the pamphlet.
What's it worth? Well, its auction market value today
is between 60 and £90.
-So, it will be a real pleasure...
-..to give it a send-off.
-And with your blessing, we can put a reserve on, maybe at £50...
-Yes, that's fine.
-If that meets your approval?
-On that note, thanks a lot.
-Thank you. Pleasure.
And finally, it's time now to tick off
Catherine's last find of the day.
Michael, welcome to "Flog It!"
-And what have you brought with you today?
What I've brought is this Rolex watch,
which I've had since the 1950s.
So you bought this back in the '50s.
Where did you buy it from in the '50s?
I bought it from a shop in Kuala Lumpur.
And what were you doing in Kuala Lumpur, may I ask, in the '50s?
I was in the RAF.
And I was posted to Kuala Lumpur and I ended up being an instructor
at Malayan Auxiliary Air Force.
How old were you, if you don't mind me asking, in the '50s?
Well, in 1956, I'd be 20.
So this then was a bit of a special thing to then go out and buy.
Yes, I mean, Rolex watches have always been a status symbol.
-So, erm, that's why I bought it.
You're clutching something there. What's in the envelope, sir?
That's the receipt from the watch dealers,
which tells you that I paid 200 Malayan dollars.
Do you know how much that was then?
-Was that a lot of money for you back then?
It was when you were on RAF pay, yes.
-It took a bit of saving up, yes.
A bit of saving up. Can I hand that back to you for one second?
-And what's the other piece of paper
-that you've got there?
-This is the Rolex guarantee,
which has the number of the watch on it.
Now, that's quite crucial, to have the number on the watch
because as soon as we see Rolex watches,
alarm bells start ringing straightaway and we think,
it's going to be a fake.
But the main sort of period that they started faking Rolex watches
was in the '70s and the '80s.
But looking at this, and looking at it quite closely,
I can see that there's numbers between the lugs here.
-And these numbers here equate to the numbers that you've got...
-On the watch...
-Written, not only on the guarantee there but also...
-Also on the receipt.
-On the receipt there, so that all does match up,
which is a nice sign.
The fact that you bought it in the '50s and looking at it,
the fact that you've got the numerals here,
and it all seems to match up, is good enough for me.
So, why are you thinking of selling it
because this is so important to you? It's got a lot of history behind it.
Well, yes, it has, but as I said,
I eventually bought another watch and it hasn't worked
since about, erm... 1965 or something like that.
-Gosh, right, so quite a long time.
-So it's 50 years since it worked.
If you are willing to sell it, my feeling is
put a reasonable estimate on of £200 to £300, with a £200 reserve.
I hope it will do very well indeed because it's got Rolex on the watch,
it's got Rolex on the guarantee, it's got Rolex on the receipt,
and even on the envelope.
-So I'm thinking this will probably do well.
We've just got to get it to work again.
-Michael, are you happy with that?
Yes, I'm very happy with that.
Well, it's been a pleasure to meet you
and sharing your stories and let's hope we do well
with this little gem. Thank you very much indeed.
Thanks very much indeed.
A "Flog It!" valuation day is a great experience,
so why not come along and find out what your items are worth?
It looks like an interesting collection has just parked
on Charles's table.
-What a wonderful collection.
Yes, it's been collected for a while,
but mainly it was my husband's collection and I just found
a few tucked away and so I thought it would be a good opportunity.
-You don't, Marlene, look an oily mechanic type.
-But your husband was?
You know, anything unusual.
-Your husband's name was?
Peter put a wonderful collection of car badges together.
There's 13 here.
At home, have you still got the fleet of classic cars?
-Look at me, Marlene, right? That's a shame.
It's amazing how in the last 20 years the sector of interest
in vintage, classic cars really has revved up into fifth gear.
-The market now for accessories of this sort of vintage,
yesteryear car badge is now so popular.
When was your husband collecting these?
Well, we both collected in an old car boot
-or an indoor thing on a Saturday.
So we collected things from when the kids were little,
-you know what I mean?
-Have you a favourite here of car badge?
I don't know if it's my favourite,
but I'm intrigued with that one because of the crown.
The Crown Coronet? Yes.
Yeah, and because Peter's been out and gone...
I think he used to sneak out to auctions when I was...
-Did you allow him to go out?
-Did you allow him to go?
Oh, he would... Yeah, he'd definitely go.
But these are wonderful. Credit to his passion for collecting.
I think when we look at them, what I look for is colour and vigour
of the badges which almost reflects certain decades in style.
Yeah, some of them have a nice finish with them.
Yes, and, of course, they would shimmer on the grill of your car
and historically they're interesting.
We know the AA established in 1905.
They began to issue badges in this chrome plate,
in this metallic finish.
Some, of course, have oxidised, corroded.
We have some enamel losses on this one here.
-Would that be enamel at the back of that, do you think?
-Oh, no, the enamel on the top, yeah.
-It's what we call Champleve enamel.
It's been filtered in, into like a pool or a reservoir
and when it's been knocked, that pool of enamel has fallen out.
-Oh, I see. So it makes a channel. I hadn't realised that.
But the really early ones would date to 1906.
None of these are really pre-1906 because by 1911,
-we had the winged car badges come in.
-Yeah, on the top.
So these are after 1911, as are these down here.
What are they worth?
I... I'm asking you that.
Are you feeling revved up?
Oh, yeah, raring to go.
Hold tight, OK, there's a bend coming up on my estimate.
I would say we'll put a reserve on
in case we don't get what we feel they're worth.
They must be worth plus £10 each, times by 13 is...?
-I'm not going there because it's 13...
So I propose fixed reserve 120 with a guide between 120 and 150.
-Is that steering you in the right direction?
-Yeah. Oh, yes.
-I'm sorry. Shall we go?
-To auction we go. Thanks, Marlene. Can't wait.
-Thank you very much.
That's a lovely little collection.
Well, you've just seen our experts have now found their final items
to take off to auction, which means sadly we have to say goodbye
from the Platform here in Morecambe. It's time to say goodbye, everybody.
Give that camera a big wave.
We have some unfinished business to do in the auction room.
That's where we're going right now,
to put those valuations to the test
and here's a quick recap of what's going under the hammer.
We're hoping the bidders simply fall in love
with all the diamonds in that wonderful ring.
Will the comedy duo of Morecambe and Wise's signatures
raise some serious money at auction?
We're hoping that Marlene's car badges
are getting everyone revved up and bump up the prices in the saleroom.
And surely the time is right to be selling that Rolex.
Keep watching and you'll find out soon.
Back at Silverwoods saleroom,
Wilf Mould is in full flow on the rostrum.
And it's show time, as Ann's musical programme
is about to go under the hammer.
Now, since the valuation day, you've decided to cancel the £50 reserve.
-So there's no reserve, it's going. It's definitely going.
-Good on you, because we wanted Morecambe and Wise memorabilia,
we really did. It sums up the whole area, doesn't it?
-And you were 14 years old when you met them.
Well, look, fingers crossed, these go to a good home
and they're going under the hammer right now.
We have the North Pier Pavilion programme, signed, more importantly,
by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.
Now, who will start me at £80 for this one?
-80 from any of you?
-50, then. 30, if you like.
22, anybody else?
With the two autographs on it.
At 22 and 25 from anybody else then?
-At 22 and 25.
It's got that local pedigree.
£22 now, I'm going to sell.
-Make no mistake at £22...
Well done for reducing the reserve.
-That means we got it away.
Quite right. It is the right place, Paul, to sell it.
-It definitely is.
-But the market didn't call it.
Thank you for bringing that in because it made our show.
We needed something like that, Morecambe and Wise memorabilia.
It didn't make as much as we'd hoped but it was the memories of meeting
Morecambe and Wise that were priceless for Ann.
I tell you, there's a lot of badges here,
-but you do need a chrome bumper for them.
-Ah, you've got to have a chrome bumper.
-Oh, have you?
Well, they wouldn't look right on a modern bumper, would they,
some of those badges? They're just so gorgeous.
I think he had a good eye and this type of thing is well sought after
-at auto sort of sales.
-They do, Paul.
-They have a nostalgia to sort of...
-Yes, they do.
-..happy driving over the years.
Put them on the old classic cars and off you go.
Let's find out what the bidders think.
Good luck, everyone. This is it.
A collection of 13 vintage car badges
and we have interest on phones and on the book at £75 with me.
75 and 80 now.
We're in top gear now, look at that. We've shifted up.
130 on the phone. 130. 140 from anybody else?
At £130. I'm looking for... 140's online now.
At 150 on my left here.
-180 this time.
At £170 and 180 anybody else?
All done at 170?
Yes, hammer's gone down.
£170. Good stuff.
-Peter did a good job there.
-You'd be proud of him, yeah?
-Yeah, I am.
-That's really nice.
And they'll go to a great home, another collector.
And hopefully those badges will be on a chrome bumper somewhere...
-..who's got the right classic for it.
An auction is a fantastic experience.
You never know what's going to happen.
John, good luck. Let's hope this next item
sparkles in the saleroom and lights it up.
It's that diamond cluster ring.
I know you bought it in the '80s,
you paid the proper retail price for it. Just over £1,000.
The problem that we have today is they're just not fashionable.
But would this be bought and split up, then?
-For earrings and...
-It could possibly be bought and split up.
-That's the thing.
-Yeah. We need top money.
Let's hope it sparkles. Here we go.
Lady's 18-carat gold and diamond cluster ring.
Who will start me at, what, £700 for this ring?
-700 would be nice.
600 quickly. Five.
400. 400. 420 now.
At £400. 420 from any of you?
At £400 and 420, I'd take, 420
for this ring.
-Where's 420 for it?
It is really struggling.
-Yeah, yeah. It is.
-Are you all quite sure at 400?
Well, I'm very sorry, folks, but...
We are not selling it. I'm very sorry, John.
You're right, it is the fashion.
Fair enough. What would you advise?
I would suggest just keeping hold of it and probably not doing anything
with it for a while because the thing is, you never know,
something like that may well come back into fashion
but there's a lot of diamonds there
and you shouldn't just let it go for £400,
-which is what they were asking.
-It's a nice ring
and you paid a lot of money for it so I would keep hold of it.
It was a shame about John's diamond ring
but that's sage advice from Catherine.
And now, time for the final item -
will Michael's stopped Rolex make the auction tick?
Well, I'm a big fan of our next lot.
I like my watches.
-Why are you selling this one?
-Partly because it doesn't go.
But I got tired of it.
Look, it's a good watch. It is a man's watch,
but the fashion for women nowadays is to wear bigger watches.
So there's a big market,
so I think this is going to sell
and I think 200 to 300 is a great pitch.
The important thing is all the numbers matched up...
-And that's what people like.
So, fingers crossed we get the top end plus.
-Yes, that's what we want.
Time is definitely up now.
It's going under the hammer and this is it.
It's the Rolex Oyster perpetual gentlemen's wristwatch.
Has its original receipt.
It also has its original guarantee card.
And I shall start at £600.
£600, straight in.
-Oh, my goodness me.
1,000 on the internet.
£1,000. 1,200 now, jumping up.
1,400. 1,500, I'll take.
This is a come and buy me, isn't it?
It was a bit of one.
And they are on the phones and they are going up.
£1,500, on the telephone.
All done at £1,500...?
Yes! Hammer down. £1,500!
-Put it there, Michael.
Thank you so much for bringing that in.
That's cheered you up, hasn't it?
-We'll have to do this again.
You should have bought more of them at the time.
Look, it's a great way to end a show.
We needed a big surprise and we certainly got one today.
-200 to 300?
I hope you enjoyed that
and come back for many more surprises, but until then,
it's goodbye from all of us.
The programme comes from the Platform in Morecambe, Lancashire, which in its day was the main station bringing holidaymakers to the town. Antiques experts Charles Hanson and Catherine Southon find treasures to take to auction, including a vintage Rolex watch. Paul Martin discovers the rags-to-riches story of the town's most famous son - Eric Morecambe.