#TBT: Morcambe and Wise are ‘Singing in the Rain’


Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise had a professional partnership that lasted for more than 4 decades, from 1941 until Eric Morcambe’s death in 1984. One of the most famous Morecambe and Wise routines from their annual Christmas show was their comic parody of Gene Kelly’s ‘Singing in the Rain’.

This week’s Tellyspotting #TBT happens to be a personal favorite of mine. This classic Morecambe & Wise sketch is from their 1976 Christmas Show and parodies the scene from the film Singin’ in the Rain, where Gene Kelly dances in the rain, and sings the title song, “Singin’ in the Rain”. This recreation featured Ernie exactly copying Gene Kelly’s dance routine, on a set which exactly copied the set used in the movie, with Eric performing the role of the policeman.

While there was only one difference between the original and the Morecambe and Wise version, it was a big one. In the M&W sketch, there is no water, except for a few carefully timed and placed downpours onto Eric’s head (through a drain, or dumped out of a window, etc.). This lack of water was initially due to practical considerations (the floor of the studio had many electrical cables on it, and such quantities of water would be dangerous). As you would guess, Morecambe and Wise found a way to turn the lack of water into comic gold.

Morcambe and Wise are 'Singing in the Rain'

Described as “the most illustrious, and the best-loved, double-act that Britain has ever produced”, the duo were voted by the general public as number 2 in a poll of TV’s 50 Greatest Stars. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, The Morecambe and Wise Show placed 14th overall.

This week’s Tellyspotting #TBT salutes The Morecambe and Wise Show.