All successful acts have a beginning and Eric and Ernie was the TV drama that told the early story of two of Britain’s best loved comics Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.
Produced by BBC Wales the drama completed production in 2010 and premiered on BBC Two on 1st January, 2011, reaching an audience of 6.65 million viewers.
Two big names better known for their comedy work Victoria Wood and Vic Reeves (credited under his resal name Jim Moir) are among the cast, this time they are playing straight roles.
The story begins several years before the second world war. Ernie Wiseman, a precocious and confident child performer, is signed up by influential impresario Jack Hylton. Meanwhile in Morecambe, pushy stage mother, Sadie Bartholomew, drags her slightly reluctant son Eric, an eccentric dancer, from one audition to the next until he too becomes a client of Hylton.
Iniitially it appears the boys do not get on, but Sadie, not prepared to give up sees a way to use their cross-talk and they form a bantering double act as Morecambe and Wise.
After war service Morecambe and Wise become successful on stage and on radio. However their attempt to crack the new medium of television is a disaster, as they are forced to accept a script which will make their Northernness acceptable to Southern viewers. As a consequence of the disasteress atempt to break into TV the duo go their own ways and split up.
Once again determined not to give up Sadie knows the formula that once worked and pushes Eric, now married to dancer Joan, into contacting Ernie, who is married to dancer Doreen. They decide to reform, on their own terms, it was this act that would go onto them becoming one of the most successful performing duos ever in British comedy.
Victoria Wood – Sadie Bartholomew, Eric’s mother
Daniel Rigby – Eric Morecambe
Bryan Dick – Ernie Wise
Jim Moir (Vic Reeves) – George Bartholomew, Eric’s father
Reece Shearsmith – Harry Wiseman, Ernie’s father
Emer Kenny – Joan Bartlett, later Eric’s wife
Hannah Steele – Doreen Blythe, later Ernie’s wife
Written By: Peter Bowker
Produced By: Tim Bricknell
Directed By: Jonny Campbell
Original Transmission Date: 1st January, 2011