As comedy duos in the world of British comedy go, historically, most U.S. viewers are only familiar with the more recent juggernauts of Fry and Laurie or French and Saunders. As is particularly the case in the UK, comedy duos are not unfamiliar to U.S. audiences given the success of Martin & Lewis, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello and, more recently, The Smothers Brothers.
In the UK, however, comedy duos have long been a part of daily life with the likes of The Two Ronnies, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and the greatness of Eric Morcambe and Ernie Wise. In the case of Morcambe and Wise, their ‘partnership’ began in the early 40’s and spanned over 40 years, including variety, radio, film and television, until Eric Morcambe died in 1984. Long considered the best double act that Britain has ever produced, The Morcambe and Wise Show placed 14th in a poll naming the 100 Greatest British Television Programs of all-time as presented by the British Film Institute (#5 in the comedy category).
The immense popularity of Eric Morcambe and Ernie Wise is evidenced by a December 1963 appearance by The Beatles (broadcast in April 1964) where they performed This Boy, All My Loving and I Want to Hold Your Hand ending with a classic performance of Moonlight Bay joined by Eric and Ernie.
Classic Morcambe and Wise from 1976 Christmas Show
To this day, I will never forget a chance meeting with Ernie Wise at a mid-90’s BBC Showcase in Brighton. It was definitely a brush with comedy greatness. All I could do was thank him for a lifetime of smiles that he had brought to the world of comedy.