Eric Morecambe. Ernie Wise. You may or may not know the names, but there’s no question you indirectly know their work as there isn’t a British comedy star today that doesn’t reference Morecambe & Wise when talking about their influences growing up. From variety to radio to film to television, the comedy partnership of Morecambe and Wise began in 1941 and lasted until Eric Morecambe’s death in 1984. In many cases, their wildly successful sketch comedy program provided a number of current and former British comedy stars their start with guest shots on their show.
Fortunately, for British comedy fans across the globe, Ernie Wise never threw anything away. Seems as though Ernie’s widow, Doreen, was doing a bit of spring-cleaning in the garage. In the boxes designated for therapeutic destruction were dozens of reel-to-reel tapes and over 45 hours of original show recordings thought destroyed years earlier, many unheard for almost 50 years.
Several historians liken the find as being the comedy equivalent of finding long lost Beatles recordings from a rehearsal before a performance at The Cavern. The tapes aired recently on BBC Radio 4 as Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes.
So you may or may not know their names and you might still be unfamiliar with their comedy genius. If so, find some DVD’s and catch up. It’s classic British comedy. One of the comedy duo’s most famous sketches was this exact recreation of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. Only thing they forgot was….the rain. Enjoy.