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Welcome to our 'MORECAMBE AND WISE' page, as you can see we offer a nice range of merchandise produced from my Artwork.

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Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, usually referred to as Morecambe and Wise, or Eric and Ernie, were a British comic double act, working in variety, radio, film and most successfully in television. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984. They have been described as "the most illustrious, and the best-loved, double-act that Britain has ever produced".[1] In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, The Morecambe and Wise Show was placed 14th. In September 2006, they were voted by the general public as number 2 in a poll of TV's Greatest Stars and in 2011 their early career was the subject of the television biopic

Morecambe and Wise's partnership began in 1941 when they were each booked separately to appear in Jack Hylton's revue, Youth Takes a Bow at the Nottingham Empire Theatre. War service broke up the act but they reunited by chance at the Swansea Empire Theatre in 1946 when they joined forces again. They made their name in variety, appearing in a variety circus, the Windmill Theatre, the Glasgow Empire and many venues around Britain.[2] After this they also made their name in radio, transferring to television in 1954. Their show, Running Wild, was not well received and led to a damning newspaper review: "Definition of the week: TV set – the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise." Eric apparently carried this review around with him ever after and from then on Eric and Ernie kept a tight control over their material. In 1956 they were offered a spot in the Winifred Atwell show with material written by Johnny Speight and this was a success.

They had a series of shows that spanned over twenty years, during which time they developed and honed their act, most notably after moving to the BBC in 1968, where they were to be teamed with their long-term writer Eddie Braben. It is this period of their careers that is widely regarded as their "glory days". Their shows were:

Running Wild (BBC, 1954. Writer Leonard Fincham, Lawrie Wyman).

Two of a Kind (ATV, 1961–1968. Writers: Dick Hills and Sid Green).

The Morecambe & Wise Show (BBC, 1968–1977. Writers: Hills and Green for one series and thereafter Eddie Braben).

The Morecambe & Wise Show (Thames Television, 1978 until their final show together at Christmas 1983. Writers: themselves, Barry Cryer, John Junkin, and from 1980, Eddie Braben).

In the later and most successful part of their career, which spanned the 1970s, they were joined behind the scenes by Eddie Braben, a script writer who generated almost all their material (Morecambe and Wise were also sometimes credited as supplying "additional material") and defined what is now thought of as typical Morecambe and Wise humour. Together Morecambe, Wise and Braben were known as "The Golden Triangle". Morecambe and Wise are considered by many to be one of the UK's all-time favourite comedy acts.

John Ammonds was also central to the duo's most successful period in the 1970s. As the producer of the BBC TV shows, it was his idea to involve celebrity guests. He also perfected the duo's familiar dance, which was based on a dance performed by Groucho Marx in the film Horse Feathers[3]

Ernest Maxin started choreographing the musical numbers in 1970, and succeeded John Ammonds as producer of the BBC TV shows in 1974. Maxin, who won a BAFTA for the Best Light Entertainment Show for the Morecambe and Wise 1977 Christmas Show, was also responsible for devising and choreographing many of their great musical comedy routines including "The Breakfast Sketch", "Singin' in the Rain", and the homage to South Pacific, "There is nothing like a dame" featuring BBC newsreaders in an acrobatic dance routine.

The other writers were Barry Cryer, John Junkin, Dick Hills and Sid Green during Two of a Kind, Mike Craig and Lawrie Kinsley

A typical Morecambe and Wise show was effectively a sketch show crossed with a sitcom, although shows could also include the duo appearing "as themselves" on a mock stage in front of curtains emblazoned with an M and W logo (this was usually to open the show). Morecambe and Wise's comic style varied subtly throughout their career, depending on their writers. Their original writers Dick Hills and Sid Green took a relatively straightforward approach, depicting "Eric" as an aggressive, knockabout comedian and "Ernie" as an essentially conventional and somewhat disapproving straight man. When Eddie Braben took over as writer, he made the relationship considerably deeper and more complex. The critic Kenneth Tynan noted that, with Braben as writer, Morecambe and Wise had a unique dynamic—Ernie was a comedian who wasn’t funny, while Eric was a straight man who was funny The Ernie persona became simultaneously more egotistical and more naïve. Morecambe pointed out that Braben wrote him as "tougher, less gormless, harder towards Ern. Wise's contribution to the humour is a subject of an ongoing debate. To the end of his life he would always reject interviewers' suggestions that he was 'the straight man', preferring to call himself 'the song-and-dance man'. However, Wise's skill and dedication as the duo's manager was essential to their joint success, and Tynan praised Wise's performance as "unselfish, ebullient and indispensable

A central concept was that the duo lived together as close, long-term friends (there were many references to a childhood friendship) who shared not merely a flat but also a bed—although their relationship was purely platonic and merely continued a tradition of comic partners sleeping in the same bed that started with Laurel and Hardy. Morecambe was initially uncomfortable with the bed-sharing sketches, but changed his mind upon being reminded of the Laurel-and-Hardy precedent; however, he still insisted on smoking his pipe in the bed scenes "for the masculinity". The front room of the flat and also the bedroom were used frequently throughout the show episodes, although Braben would also transplant the duo into various external situations, such as a health-food shop or a bank. Many references were made to Ernie's supposed meanness with money and drink.

Another concept of the shows during the 'Braben era' was Ernie's utterly confident presentation of amateurishly inept plays. This allowed for another kind of sketch: the staged 'historical drama', which usually parodied genuine historical television plays or films (such as Stalag 17, Antony and Cleopatra, or Napoleon and Josephine). Wise's character would write a play, complete with cheap props, shaky scenery and appallingly clumsy writing ("the play what I wrote" became a catchphrase), which would then be acted out by Morecambe, Wise and the show's guest star. Guests who participated included many big names of the 1970s and 80s, such as Flora Robson, Penelope Keith, Laurence Olivier, John Mills, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Porter, Peter Cushing (who in a running gag would keep turning up to complain that he had not been paid for an earlier appearance) and Frank Finlay – as well as Glenda Jackson (as Cleopatra: "All men are fools. And what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got..."). Jackson had not previously been known as a comedienne and this appearance led to her Oscar winning role in A Touch of Class. Morecambe and Wise would often pretend not to have heard of their guest, or would appear to confuse them with someone else (former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson returned the favour, when appearing as a guest at the duo's 'flat', by referring to Morecambe as 'Mor-e-cam-by'). Also noteworthy was the occasion when the respected BBC newsreader Angela Rippon was induced to show her shapely legs in a dance-number (she had trained as a ballet dancer before she became a journalist and TV presenter). Braben later said that a large amount of the duo's humour was based on irreverence. A running gag in a number of shows was a short sequence showing a well-known artist in closeup saying "I appeared in an Ernie Wise play, and look what happened to me!". The camera would then pull back and show the artist doing some low-status job such as newspaper seller (Ian Carmichael), underground guard (Fenella Fielding), dustman (Eric Porter), bus conductor (Andre Previn), or some other ill-paid employment. However, celebrities felt they had received the highest accolade in showbusiness by being invited to appear in "an Ernest Wide play" as Ernie once mispronounced it during a show's introduction involving 'Vanilla' (Vanessa) Redgrave.

As a carry-over from their music hall days, Eric and Ernie sang and danced at the end of each show, although they were forced to abandon this practice when Morecambe's heart condition prevented him from dancing. The solution was that Eric would walk across the stage with coat and bag, ostensibly to 'wait for his bus', while Ernie danced by himself. Their peculiar skipping dance, devised by their BBC producer John Ammonds, was a modified form of a dance used by Groucho Marx. Their signature tune was Bring Me Sunshine. They either sang this at the end of each show or it was used as a theme tune during the credits (although in their BBC shows they used other songs as well, notably "Following You Around", "Positive Thinking" and "Don't You Agree"). A standard gag at the end of each show was for a large lady (Janet Webb) to appear behind the pair, walk to the front of the stage and push them out of her way. She would then recite:

I’d like to thank you for watching me and my little show here tonight. If you’ve enjoyed it then it's all been worthwhile. So until we meet again, goodnight, and I love you all!

Webb was never announced, and seldom appeared in their shows in any other role. Another running gag involved an old colleague from their music hall days, harmonica player Arthur Tolcher. Arthur would keep appearing on the stage in evening wear and would play a few bars of his mouth organ only to be told "Not now, Arthur!" At the very end of the show, following the final credit, Arthur would sneak on stage and begin to play, only for the screen to cut to black.

In June 2007, the BBC released a DVD of surviving material from their first series in 1968, and the complete second series from 1969. In November 2011 Network DVD released the complete, uncut 13 episodes of the first ATV series of Two of a Kind from 1962.

The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968–1977)

The Morecambe & Wise Show (1978–1983)

[edit] Christmas specials

With the exception of 1974, the show had end-of-year Christmas specials, which became some of the highest-rated TV programmes of the era. Braben would comment that people judged the quality of their Christmas experience on the quality of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special. From 1969 until 1980, except 1974, the shows were always on Christmas Day.

[edit] Audiences

The Morecambe and Wise's Christmas Show in 1977 scored one of the highest ever audiences in British television history with more than 28 million viewers ITV prefer to quote a different figure of 21 million, that which is now used by the BFI, despite the Guinness Book of Records quoting the former viewership

Morecambe and Wise remain among the most consistently high-rating performers of all time on British television, regularly topping the in-week charts during their heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Famous sketches

Singin' in the Rain

One of the famous Morecambe and Wise routines was their 1976 Christmas Show parody of the scene from the film Singin' in the Rain, where Gene Kelly dances in the rain, and sings the song "Singin' in the Rain". This recreation featured Ernie exactly copying Gene Kelly's dance routine, on a set which exactly copied the set used in the movie, and Eric performed the role of the policeman. The difference from the original was that in the Morecambe and Wise version, there is no water, except for some downpours onto Eric's head (through a drain, or dumped out of a window, etc.). This lack of water was initially because of practical considerations (the floor of the studio had many electrical cables on it, and such quantities of water would be dangerous) – but Morecambe and Wise found a way to turn the lack of water into a comic asset.

[edit] The Breakfast Sketch

This 1976 sketch has become one of the duo's most familiar and is a parody of a stripper routine where Eric and Ernie are seen listening to the radio at breakfast time. David Rose's tune "The Stripper" comes on and the duo perform a dance using various kitchen utensils and food items, including Ernie catching slices of toast as they popped out of the toaster, and finally opening the fridge door to be bathed in light, as if on stage, while they pull out strings of sausages which they whirl around to the music.

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