The famous partnership of Morecambe and Wise, began in 1941, when they were each booked separately to appear in Jack Hylton’s revue, Youth Takes a Bow at the Nottingham Empire Theatre. With the outbreak of World War 2, the pair did their bit, which effectively broke up the act.
It was in 1946, at the Swansea Empire Theatre, that by chance the pair were reunited. Morecambe and Wise would go on to make their name in variety, appearing in a variety circus, the Windmill Theatre, the Glasgow Empire and many venues around Britain.
By 1953 Morecambe and Wise were on the radio in their first radio series YOYO, You’re Only Young Once. this ran for three series until 1954. In 1954 they made their television debut in Running Wild. This was not a great success and generally panned by the critics. This lead to Eric Morecambe insisting that in future they kept a close grip on their material. They re-appeared on television in 1956, when they were offered a regular spot on the Winifred Atwell show with material written by Johnny Speight, this proved to be a success.
In 1961 they were back on our screens with their own show Two Of A Kind, with material written by Dick Hills and Sid Green. Again the first series was not the success they might of hoped for, with many critics siting the rough knock about humour as unsuitable for the duo. By series 2, in 1962, the problem was fixed and it is this second series that was more in line with their successful stage shows that would set the pattern for the future.
By 1968, colour television was arriving and Eric Morecambe was keen to do shows in the new medium. ATV who produced Two Of A Kind, were not so keen, so when the BBC came calling in 1968 with the offer of colour, The Morecambe And Wise Show was born.
For the first series existing writers Hills and Green provided the material. From the second BBC series the material came from Eddie Braben, who would continue to write for the duo until 1978. It is this period that many regard as the best of their career, with classic sketches such as the stripper and Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Andre Previn.
A desire to make another feature film (they had made three during the sixties with limited success: The Intelligence Men (1965), That Riviera Touch (1966), and The Magnificent Two (1967), lead them back to ITV, Thames Television in 1978. This time Morecambe And Wise wrote for themselves as part of a team that included: Barry Cryer, John Junkin, and from 1980, Eddie Braben.
The duo remained with Thames until their final show together at Christmas 1983. The move to Thames enabled them to make another feature film Night Train To Murder was released in 1984, shortly after the sad death of Eric Morecambe. Filmed in 1983 it was the duo’s final work together.