Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

Morecambe and Wise - The Garage Tapes

2009 Article

Week: 52
Day: SATURDAY 26th December 2009
Time: 20.00
Producer : David Prest and Stewart Henderson

* Programme re-scheduled for spring 2010*
Synopsis :
Jon Culshaw uncovers an extraordinary audio archive of early Morecambe and Wise material, including a number of long lost tapes.

This is a genuine archive find of real importance. A few months ago, Doreen Wise, widow of Ernie, cleared the old family garage of piles of tapes and 78 recordings.

Independent radio company Whistledown were contacted by Eric and Ernie’s agents, and offered the material.

The most important finds are five long-lost episodes of Eric and Ernie’s first radio show, “You’re Only Young Once” which was made for the BBC between November 1953 and June 1954.

These feature songs, sketches, their trade mark banter and guest cameo appearances from other well-known performers including Bob Monkhouse.

The tapes in Ernie’s garage are believed to be “run off” copies recorded at 3 ¾ ips by studio engineers immediately after the recordings, and probably never played since.

Much of the value of the material is in what it shows about their comedy development. The early radio series are very naturalistic, and feature historical sketches and songs which precede the 1970’s BBC TV shows by almost 15 years.

Other treats include: Andre Previn’s speech to Eric and Ernie at a Variety Club lunch in 1974, rare recordings of their Great Yarmouth and Blackpool shows from the mid-late sixties. Also included are many original master tapes of songs, written for the duo, which show their skill in the recording studio.

This archive hour, presented by fan Jon Culshaw will allow this material to be heard for the first time in over fifty years, and will coincide with the 25th anniversary of Eric’s death and the 10th or Ernie’s.

Also included are interviews with Joan Morecambe and son Gary, Doreen Wise as well as Michael Grade, and the writer Peter Bowker.

© Whistledown 2009

You may also like:

What’s it like being married to a comedy man?
An interview from March 1967 with the wives of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise from Photoplay Magazine

The Woman Behind Morecambe and Wise
Behind every great man is a great woman; Sadie Bartholomew

Garage Tapes In-Depth
We head to London to meet the man who was responsible for the restoration of the garage tapes.