Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

Audition Mystery

Feature from 2011

Melody Maker
It has long been thought that Eric and Ernie’s first meeting was in 1939. Jack Hylton was holding auditions for his touring youth show ‘Youth Takes A Bow’ with Ernie, already an established act within it, watching on. Eric had recently won a talent contest and the prise was the chance to audition for the show.

All previous accounts point to this talent contest and the Hylton audition being in 1939 as part of the Melody Maker ‘Find a Star’ project. Several newspaper cuttings in the possession of Joan Morecambe (and published in the book Eric Morecambe Unseen) have dates of 1939 written in pen next to them, but then again there are two identical ones, the other having 1940 written against it.

A recently obtained copy of the Melody Maker now throws this date out by several months, taking the actual date into 1940. The article mentions the finalists and winners, including a certain Eric Bartholomew, along with pictures of the young hopefuls. Below is the full article and images taken from the March 2nd 1940 Melody Maker. The date mentioned would indicate that the talent competition won by Eric was held on Saturday 24th February 1940 with the audition for Hylton being undated.

Also of interest, and contrary to previous suggestions is the prize itself, the audition for Hylton. All newspaper cuttings and the Melody Maker say the audition would be held in London and not as previously thought, in Manchester. This is still somewhat of a mystery as no one we have talked to can actually say what happened. It is documented (in various biographies and interviews) that the Hylton audition was at the Manchester Palace Theatre but all newspaper reports say London.

Where there two auditions - one in London and then a second in Manchester? Was one cancelled? What happened at the London audition, if it actually took place?

If anyone knows, please get in touch.

Read the Melody Maker article from 1940

© 2011

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Article from the Melody Maker with the news of the talent show winners including Eric Bartholomew.