One part genius, one part show man and one part false fool. If the man was anymore the perfect package he wouldn’t have needed Ernie Wise but that is no slate on the other half of this comedy duo. Eric was a classic performer who strode out of the 1960’s variety showcase and made the leap from stage to television screen and even rocketed to the big screen in an unfortunately poorly received movie debut.
Born John Eric Bartholomew in Morecambe, Lancashire, Eric was shoved into the limelight by his mother who often took him to talent shows and contests up and down the country it wasn’t until meeting a young Ernest Wiseman that his talents began to flourish. Bouncing naturally of his straight faced comedy partner Eric’s sly foolishness brought him many a laugh and brought him all the way to appearing on television for the BBC. Notoriously it is reported that he was apprehensive of television at first much preferring the stage but his degree of talent allowed him to overcome the apprehension and allowed us all to share in his comic greatness. “How’s it going so far? Rubbish!”
If you go into any home in the UK and bring up the names Morecambe and Wise you will undoubtedly see a smile spread across the faces of anyone you speak too. Many of us only now get to experience The Morecambe and Wise show around Christmas but for older generations it was often the highlight of the week’s programming. The man’s comfortableness on stage and his knowing looks to camera and the audience broke down the barrier that he feared television created. If you watch a repeat of those classic shows you are almost dragged into the television set and it is as if you are seated there in the audience. His character on stage would often allow for his cheekiness to shine through especially with celebrity guests, who doesn’t remember the Andre Previn sketch, where the renowned classical composer was friendly slapped and put in his place during Greig’s Piano Concerto “Listen, I’m playing all the right notes just not in the right order”
Sadly no longer with us I believe Eric Morecambe brings us sunshine every time we see him on our screens, see him portrayed on stage by impersonators, see someone wiggle their glasses or we remember the brown paper bag trick and if you don’t remember that watch this:
Words: DB Mitchell.