Little and Large: It was a joy to work with them both
Syd Little was the straight man of then two great entertainers, while Eddie Large was generally the funny guy.
They had a TV series and appeared in theatres and pantomimes for many years before their partnership ended when Eddie had serious health problems.
Eddie, who was born Edward Hugh McGinnis, died aged 78 in April 2020.
He had been suffering with heart failure and contracted coronavirus in hospital.
Here is his column in full:
Little and large were appearing in summer season at the Princess Theatre in Torquay when I went backstage to visit them with a sketch I’d written.
It was the early 80s and I was breaking into television.
They had a prime-time show on Saturday evenings at that time, that used guest artistes and as I’d done a few one-nighters with them, I thought I’d pitch an idea to them.
I knew from experience that you had a much better chance of getting your material accepted if you let the stars of the show get as many laughs as you did.
So I hit on this idea to do a sketch based on me teaching Eddie to be an Irish comedian.
Eddie was a brilliant mimic and I figured if we could do a couple of routines, we could split the jokes between us.
I also figured if the wardrobe lady could tog him out in the same garb as my comedy character It would be even better.
Here’s the jist of the sketch:
Jimmy: Ladies and gentlemen, come ‘ere, I’ve been for a haircut.
He said: Do you want your hair cut round the back; I said, is there no room in the shop?
Eddie: And there’s more…
He said: You know it needs cutting badly; I said: I don’t want it cutting badly, I want it cut properly.
And so on…. the sketch finished with Eddie’s long-suffering on-stage partner Syd,
(they were the best of friends off stage), coming on to try and keep order but of course we both give him his come comeuppance and do a little jig off set.
When I knocked on the boys’ dressing room at the Princess Theatre in Torquay that evening, Eddie was there on his own and he warmly welcomed me in.
When I handed him the script, he sat down and perused it attentively, (comedy’s a serious business folks), but gradually a smile appeared as he visualised the comic potential of it and a huge feeling of relief came over me.
Happy summer season
He said he would show it to Syd and the two of them would show it to their producer Bill Wilson.
I left the theatre that evening in a confident mood.
You’ll be happy to know, readers, the sketch did make it on to the show.
From the moment we came to the set, in identical hat, wellies and tailcoat the studio audience lapped it up and I’m sure that was replicated with the viewers at home.
Many years later, I did a very happy summer season at the Britannia Theatre in Great Yarmouth with them.
Syd and Eddie never had a hang-up about other comedians on the bill getting laughs.
Another 15 years
To them it was the success of the overall show that mattered and the louder people laughed the more likely they would be to spread the word around the resort.
Not long after that season, Eddie’s heart condition deteriorated, but miraculously he was given a heart transplant at the Papworth Hospital in Cambridge which gave him another 15 years.
I made him laugh once when I sent him an email and jokingly suggested that the reason his new heart was in such good nick was that it came from a theatrical agent and had hardly been used!
It was while Eddie was having treatment for his heart at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, that he succumbed to the coronavirus and sadly died on the 2nd of April 2020.
A light went out in the UK entertainment industry.
All the happy memories of working with Eddie and Syd have been rekindled these last few weeks, because Eddie’s wife Patsy, and son Ryan, have passed on to me the happy news that a portrait of Eddie is to be unveiled at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Given the fact that Little and Large broke all box office records during their summer seasons in Blackpool, this is a fitting and lasting tribute from our premier seaside resort to one half of one of the best-loved comedy acts to ever play there.