The Morecambe And Wise Show, 1968
After contract negotiations with ATV failed and following Eric Morecambe’s desire to appear in colour for their next series it was off to the BBC. In 1968 the first of their new series was broadcast. This time round the series was in their own names, entitled the Morecambe And Wise Show it ran from 1969 and was was broadcast in colour. Morecambe and Wise produced nine series for the BBC and eight Christmas Shows.
The first series of the new show written by Dick Hills and Sid Green followed the same formula as Two Of A kind. Eric Morecambe felt under pressure with this formula, but before any changes could be considered, Morecambe suffered a heart attack in 1968. At the same time the writers Hills & Green felt the situation had exhausted itself and it was time to move on to pastures new. It wasn’t clear if the double act would ever perform again.
Series Two was written by Eddie Braben and the show began to take the shape of the show we all came to love so much.
In 1977 after a record breaking Christmas Special Eric and Ernie left the BBC for Thames. Part of the reason for the move was the duo’s desire to move away from the format that had been so successful for a decade back into one off films. Regretably, their 1983 effort Night Train To Murder was the only film they got to make.
For the first two years of their stint at Thames there was no regular show instead a Special episode was broadcast in 1978 followed by two Christmas Specials in 1978 and 1979, before a regular show in 1980. The 1983 Christmas Special was the duo’s last TV show appearence together.
Five months after the Christmas Special Eric Morecambe tragically died of a heart attack in 1984.
A typical Morecambe and Wise show would begin with the duo appearing “as themselves” on a mock stage in front of curtains emblazoned with an M and W logo (this was usually to open the show). There would be sketches often set in the duo’s fictional flat. Musical numbers with Star Guests, a play wot Ern wrote.
At the end of the show Eric and Ernie sang and danced. They were forced to abandon this practice when Morecambe’s heart condition prevented him from dancing. The solution was that Eric would walk across the stage with coat and bag, to ‘wait for his bus’, while Ernie danced by himself.
The Thames Years
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise
Channel: BBC 2 and ITV
Series One Dick Hills and Sid Green
Series Two – Nine (BBC) Eddie Braben
1978 – 1980 Morecambe and Wise, Barry Cryer, John Junkin
1980 – 1983: Eddie Braben
Original Transmission Dates:
2nd September 1968 – 25th December 1977 (BBC)
18th October 1978 (first special), 25th December 1978 & 1979 (Christmas Specials), 3rd September 1980 – 25th December 1983 (Thames)