Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

Morecambe and Wisecracking

1962 Article

Eric and Ern

Eric and Ern enjoying themselves
Two nuts – nice nuts, though – in a madhouse. Only they call it a dressing room. And we call them Morecambe and Wise. And I have just left, thankfully, wondering just what it was I went to see them about.

I come to a conclusion. There are three good reasons why you should not ask Morecambe and Wise questions – even about their regular Saturday show.

The first reason is Morecambe. The second is Wise. And the third that you not only don’t get them answered, you don’t even get the original question back.

Now it is getting clear again. I went to find out what they will be up to in the four extra shows that they have been asked to provide for the series – the first of which goes out on September 1st.

How about this for the death of a question? I just say to Eric: “Four more shows, eh? That means four more doors not to go through.”

Reply: “I’m Eric Morecambe, the big one. You can tell me because I wear the glasses.”

The last word brings out the host in Ernie. “Would you like a drink?”

You would, but the moment has passed. You are fascinated by Eric. Ernie put the brandy down to watch, and that’s the last you ever hear of it.

For his partner abruptly paces across the room, changes direction like a tango dancer lost in a hurricane. Stops – suddenly. Purses his lips. Lifts an eyebrow. Likes the effect and watches himself in the mirror while he lifts the other.

Then he lifts his specs to prove his point about the glasses and gropes wildly for his nose. Big sigh of relief when he gets them back. Followed by.. “Ha-haaaaaaaaaa so there you are, I thought you’d left. Short interview.”

Ernie Wise beams and explains: “He could do without his glasses. He only uses them to see with.”

Eric hares off on another mad constitutional around the room, swivels abruptly half left and stops. Something is worrying him. “What shows?”

I explain.

“More weekends lost.” he works it out. “I’ve lost so many I’m beginning to feel like Ray Milland.”

That starts the cross-talk.

Ernie says: “We won’t be able to spend much time with our families.”

“I’ve got to have time off and play golf. A man is entitled to some time off.” Says Eric.

“If you don’t like conditions here, why don’t you live somewhere else?”

“They don’t understand our humour.”

“You mean they do here?”

“No – but they’re more tolerant in England.” They are. I’m not. Another attempt to find out what happened when they were told more shows were needed.

“Needed some very quick thinking.” Says Ernie.

“So that left us out.” remembers Eric.

“We rang up Mike and Bernie Winters.”

“They were out too.”

So then what did they think of? I quote verbatim:

Ernie thought “…………..”

Eric thought “…………..”

But four more shows have their bright spots. Like more money. “More work for Ernie. He looks after the business end. He banks our money.”

“What? I thought you were doing that.”

“No. You are.”

“I’m not.”

“You mean we’ve got nothing?”

Ernie props up the door and watches as Eric finally stops pacing and flops in a chair. His head drops sharply as he follows the descent, stops sharply as his partner and pal reaches seat level.

“I don’t know why we ever became comedians.” He says. More to himself that to anyone else.

“We didn’t like work, remember?”

“I think,” Ernie presses on deciding on ‘complete ignorance’ tactics, “it was because we were over-sensitive, trying to compensate for a feeling of inadequacy. There’s something missing in out natures.”

“With me it’s intelligence.” Eric is back in the conversation again.

I look to Ernie, waiting for the follow up line. It doesn’t come. He looks like he can’t follow the conversation.

Morecambe monopolises the conversation. Wise sometimes comes in with a suspicious “What do you mean?” Follows it up with. “Are you taking the mickey?” Always at times when you aren’t.

“I’m glad we’re here for more shows. Everyone at Wood Green is so helpful,” says Eric apropos of nothing you’ve asked.

“They’ve built a special after-the-show escape hatch for us. It’s called a shoot. They take us out and shoot us.”

A tap on the door. A voice warning that they will be needed on the set. Eric perks up.

“There’s an idea. We could close by trying to go through a door and never making it.”

“We’ve done it umpteen times.”

“We have? Why can’t we get through it? What’s difficult about going through a door? It’s perfectly easy. Look.”

He marches to the door, yanks it open, walks through – straight into the broom cupboard.

“Very funny,” says Ernie, “but it’s not sophisticated enough for the extra shows.”

“What extra shows?” comes a voice from the broom cupboard. The wheel has turned full circle. Maybe it will be easier just to watch television and find out.

© TV Times 1962

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