BAFTA joy for ‘our Eric’

Daniel Rigby with the Leading Actor award at the Philips British Academy Television Awards.
Daniel Rigby with the Leading Actor award at the Philips British Academy Television Awards.

THE actor who won a BAFTA for playing our own Eric Morecambe is still on Cloud 9 days after his surprise win.

Daniel Rigby told The Visitor “it still feels like a weird dream” after he beat more fancied rivals Matt Smith (Dr Who), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Jim Broadbent (Any Human Heart) to win the Leading Actor award at Sunday’s televised ceremony.

“I feel like I’ve been run over!” said Daniel.

“When Eric and Ernie was on TV it was enough for me that people received it positively and thought I hadn’t done a bad job, but this is out of this world.

“There were so many people (at the BAFTAs) that I’m used to seeing on the telly.

“Everyone who was in my category came up to me and offered congratulations. Matt Smith was on my table and he’s a top bloke.”

Eric and Ernie, shown on BBC2 on New Year’s Day, looked at the early life of Morecambe and Wise and also starred Bryan Dick as Ernie Wise, and Victoria Wood and Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) as Eric’s mum and dad.

Daniel visited Morecambe last September to film scenes for the programme at locations including Seawell Avenue in Heysham and the Winter Gardens, and was particularly taken with our statue to the great man.

“I’ve never seen such a testament to a comedian,” he said.

“A bronze statue like that with all the quotes (carved into the surround) and opposite Eric’s cafe, a shop named after him. To see the love in which he is held by his home town was very humbling.”

Prior to his role as Eric Morecambe, Daniel was a relatively unknown actor and budding standup comedian whose biggest claim to fame was playing the world famous Edinburgh Fringe.

And even after Eric and Ernie hit the TV screens, he enjoyed relative anonymity.

“Nobody recognises me at all,” he said happily.

“They dyed my hair for Eric and Ernie so in real life I look nothing like him.

“If I’m in conversation with people and it comes up that I played Eric Morecambe on the TV, people don’t actually believe me!”

But now he’s a BAFTA winner, Daniel Rigby may have to get used to fame.

He is currently appearing at the National Theatre in London in the farce One Man Two Guvnors alongside comedian James Corden, and surely further meaty roles will follow.

But down to earth Daniel isn’t looking too far ahead, saying: “Working the National Theatre and winning a BAFTA? That’s enough for me!”