Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Morecambe and Wise

Morecambe and Wise were very popular British humorists in the 1950s up to the 1980s.
Ernest Wiseman - his stage name being Ernie Wise - was born in Yorkshire, England, in November 1925. Since he was a child, he sang with his father, a semi-professional singer. As a teenager, Ernie was already an actor and a singer in music halls. In 1939, he took part in an audition with Jack Hylton and had the opportunity to meet Eric Morecambe.

John Eric Bartholomew was born in Lancashire, England, in 1926. He is best-known under the name of Eric Morecambe, Morecambe being the name of his home town. He won a lot of talent contests. One of them enabled him to take part in the same audition as Wiseman. It was the first time they met. Only two years later, they decided to create a comedy duo. However, they had to split up because of World War II. Afterwards, Morecambe and Wise came in contact again to appear regularly first in music halls, then on the radio. In 1954, they made their first television series which was a real failure. After several years of hard work, the public and the different television channels recognised their talent. They became one of the most famous British comic double acts. Over the years, Morecambe had several heart attacks, due to stress, pressure, cigarettes and finally died in 1984. Eric outlived him, but died in 1999.

They first wrote their scenes on their own, but towards the end of their career, Eddie Braben, a script writer, joined them. They were called “The Golden Triangle”. In their sketches, Morecambe played the funny guy, making blunders and being child-like, whereas Wise was the straight man, selfish and naïve. What made people laugh was the fact that they made fun of themselves and also humiliated celebrities (such as Elton John, The Beatles,…) who took part in their shows. The comedy duo revisited the famous Singin’ in the rain as well. Their most popular sketches are The Stripper and Grieg’s piano concerto. During the Chirstmas period (usually, on Christmas day), they performed a special Christmas Show which was as popular as the Queen’s traditional speech. The duo is also known for its films, for instance The Intelligence Men (1965), That Riviera Touch (1966) or Night Train To Murder (1983).

In spite of their death, Morecambe and Wise’s success hasn’t disappeared. Indeed, the UK’s general public has elected them 2nd TV Greatest Stars in 2006.

Anne-Sophie Dessouroux
Aurélie Lhoas

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