Eric's education & training
Eric recalled that when he heard that his father was coming down to see them at Ifield, where they were staying with his aunt Mary, he thought it was to say that their mother was better, which he told some of the servants; he then had to go round to tell them all that she had died. The family moved to Epsom immediately after her death and Eric liked the house 'Summerhill'. He recalled Uncle Os’s (Oswald Owen) visits when he read the children stories from mythology.
When he was about nine years old, he and his father wanted him to go to public school and they chose Ardingly in Sussex largely because it was the one the boys next door attended. Eric was bullied as junior but on the whole was very happy there. The school encouraged him to act; the late comedian Terry Thomas was, about three years ahead of him.
Eric attended Watford Art School in the gap between his audition for the Old Vic and starting there. Ruth who had recently finished training at the Old Vic was playing the lead, Isabel Carlisle, in the play 'East Lynne' with the Group Theatre and, when a part in the play became available, at her suggestion Eric took it; his first professional acting roll, was at Leiston in Suffolk.
At the old Vic he studied mainly theatre design. He then went into rep in Bournemouth as scenic artist and actor, mainly a character actor, in a theatre under the Palace Court Hotel. After about a year he went touring, thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to explore different parts of the country. He then joined the Players’ Theatre Club in London, which had just been started by Leonard Sachs and his partner; plays started at about 11 p.m. so actors could go and see them after their own performances. Eric was then sharing a flat with Eric Cloons who had been at the Old Vic with him. (his son is the actor Martin Cloons). Mr. Cloons was something of a 'ladies' man' and there were many occasions when Eric had to temporarily vacate their flat!
It was while he was working at the Players’ Theatre Club that a note from the then Lord Longford who ran 'The Dublin Gate Theatre' was brought round to his dressing room. It read, "Come to Westminster Theatre tomorrow at 10.30 am - got job in Dublin". Eric went to Dublin and loved the place.