"The best-loved double act that Britain has ever produced"
We're talking, of course, about Eric Morecambe (born John Eric Bartholomew, 1926) and Ernie Wise (born Ernest Wiseman, 1925). Their career in theatre, radio, and (most successfully) TV spanned several decades in the mid-1900s and won them a lasting place in the hearts of the British public.
More than 20 years after their last performance, in 2006 the general public voted Morecambe and Wise number 2 in a poll of TV's 50 greatest stars. When you think about all of the incredible talent that the UK has produced, that's quite an achievement.
The partnership was conceived in 1941 when they worked together in a theatre production, but they were soon separated by war service. By chance, they came together again in 1946 and this is when they really started to make a name for themselves appearing in variety shows. They also worked for a spell in radio, and then transferred onto the nation's television sets in 1954 with the show "Running Wild".
This initial venture received terrible reviews, one of which read: "Definition of the week: TV set—the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise." It was a setback for the pair, but within a few years they had bounced back and were part of a more successful show – Two of a Kind.
But it was later in their career that they teamed with writer Eddie Braben and embarked on what would become regarded as their glory years.
The Morecambe & Wise Show ran from 1968-1977 on the BBC and produced many of the sketches and catchphrases for which the comic pair is still known to this day.
A cross between a sketch show and a sitcom, the show saw the duo star as long-term friends who shared a flat, and notably featured many of Ernie's "plays wot I wrote" which opened the way for the couple to perform in spoof historical dramas, often alongside a celebrity of the time. Perhaps the most famous of these was a version of Antony and Cleopatra starring Glenda Jackson.
But reading a description of their shows really doesn't do them justice. If you've never have the pleasure of watching Morecambe and Wise perform, head straight over to YouTube to view this collection of some of their best sketches.
The pair's career sadly came to an end when Eric Morecambe suffered his third, and this time fatal, heart attack at the end of a lively stage performance.
Their legacy has lived on in the form of several plays and a film released in 2011 called Eric & Ernie.
So exactly what was it that made Morecambe and Wise so memorable and has kept them in people's minds and hearts so many years after their last performance?
Perhaps it was their irreverent treatment of the celebrities that appeared on their show – they would often address them by the wrong name, calling Elton John 'Elephant John' and André Previn 'Andrew Preview'.
It could have been their trademark blunders – such as Eric being unable to find his way onstage through the curtain – which could have got tired when repeated show after show but instead made the audience feel like they were part of an 'in' joke.
Or maybe it was a magic combination of their personalities, writing skills, and comic timing that will never again be replicated in quite the same way.
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