‘Morecambe and Wise the Whole Story’

Ernie Wise died in 1999; Eric Morecambe in 1984, but those of a certain vintage will watch this two part documentary with affection.

The second part will be screened by BBC2 on December 1. There is probably little if anything new here, but although the story of Britain’s most successful comedy duo of Twentieth Century television is well known, and although their memory is kept very much alive, this is a documentary for die-hard fans as much as for those not old enough or otherwise alien to their particular brand of humour.

This first programme traces their origins from child star Ernie Wise to their teaming up in the days of variety through radio and their beginnings in television, their initial foray with Running Wild being a total disaster. Fortunately, this was not prophetic.

Included are interviews with the widows of both men, and the son and daughter of Eric Morecambe as well as contemporaries like Barry Cryer. It covers their career up until their “defection” to the BBC, which means the best of them is to come.

Two points to note, one is that they never made it in America because Eric had no ambitions to work at much less conquer the American market, although they did appear on The Ed Sullivan Show more than once. The other is that their films beginning with The Intelligence Men are a lot better than the programme makers seem to believe, even if they did not entirely make the transition to the big screen.

[The above article was published originally November 25, 2013. The photograph here was replaced with another for some reason.]

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