- List of The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968) episodes
The nine series of 50 minute programmes produced between 1968 and 1976 by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise are generally considered to be their best output; all penned by Eddie Braben (save for the 1976 Christmas Show which was penned by John Junkin and Barry Cryer) these programmes used a familiar format of opening spot with the duo in front of their familiar "tabs", followed by a musical guest, sketches, another musical guest followed by a scene in the fictional flat, either in bed or in the lounge greeting star guests, usually a play "What Ern Wrote" and the closing song and credits. This format was occasionally not used but was considered the "norm" during the pair's BBC years. Until 1973, unlike other shows episodes were broadcast every fortnight rather than weekly.
Series One (1968)
The first series was penned by the duo's previous writing partnership of Sid Green and Dick Hills who also appeared in the show, sometimes in flat scenes, embryonic of what was to follow in later seasons. As part of the BBC's policy to wipe and re-use videotape in this era, most of the programme content was lost but a remaining fragment exists and was released on DVD together with the complete second series in 2007. The footage that remains is taken from episode seven and features Edmund Hockridge and the shadow puppets sketch, unseen for nearly forty years.
Broadcast: 2 September 1968
Broadcast: 9 September 1968
Broadcast: 16 September 1968
Guests: Dick Hills and Sid Green, Trio Athenee, Paper Dolls
Broadcast: 23 September 1968
Broadcast: 30 September 1968
Guests: Dick Hills and Sid Green, Ronnie Carroll, Kenny Ball
Broadcast:87 September 1968
Broadcast: 7 October 1968
Guests: Dick Hills and Sid Green, Edmund Hockridge, Kenny Ball
Broadcast: 14 October 1968
Guests: Dick Hills and Sid Green, Michael Aspel, Chris Langford, Kenny Ball
Broadcast: 21 October 1968
Guests: Dick Hills and Sid Green, Matt Monro, Kenny Ball
Series Two (1969)
The second series was shown on BBC2 and was one of the first to be screened in colour; the opening credits see the duo in a projection room attempting to reproduce the opening credits onto a screen with little success. It was the first series written by Eddie Braben who honed the individual personas of Eric ("the buffoon") and Ernie ("the playwright"). This series also saw the introduction of Janet Webb as "the lady who comes down at the end" and the first performance of Bring Me Sunshine which was to become their signature tune.
Broadcast: 27 July 1969
Broadcast: 10 August 1969
Guests: Janet Webb, Trio Athenee, Malcolm Roberts, Kenny Ball
Broadcast: 24 August 1969
Broadcast: 7 September 1969
Christmas Show 1969
This was the first of several highly successful festive editions made by the BBC and is available in its entirety in the archives but strangely was not included on the DVD release of the complete second series, although this did feature the remaining footage from the first series. This edition is less frequently repeated than the later shows, a fact that has been attributed to its lack of "big" guest stars. Although all the guests were high profile at the time, they have since become less prominent in the public eye.
Broadcast: 25 December 1969
Series Three (1970)
The third season saw the characters settle into place even more, with regular appearances from Kenny Ball and, of course, Janet Webb as well as the expansion of plays to close each show. Also of note is the guest appearance of Eddie Braben himself in episode five and the special edition which was screened as episode six but was, in fact, the BBC's entry into the Golden Rose Of Montreaux competition that year and was specially made for this purpose. The production values on this particular show are notably high. This complete season was released on DVD in 2007.
Broadcast: 14 January 1970
Broadcast: 28 January 1970
Guests: Ian Carmichael, Nina, The Pattersons, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, Ann Hamilton, Janet Webb
Broadcast: 11 February 1970
Broadcast: 11 March 1970
Broadcast: 25 March 1970
Broadcast: 8 April 1970 "Montreux Edition"
Broadcast: 22 April 1970
Series Four (1970)
Owing to their ever-growing popularity, this was the second series to be produced in 1970 and was in production as the previous series was on air. Whilst still featuring Janet Webb as "the lady who comes down at the end" (now an expanded speaking role), this series was notable for the introduction of the largely silent "Monk Sketches" that became a weekly feature. By this time, long-term collaborator Ann Hamilton who would go on to provide her services for the remainder of the boys careers, was fully on board and featured in many of their sketches. Series four was released on DVD in April 2008 but only features the first five episodes of this series - the sixth episode, made to herald a repeat run on BBC1, no longer exists.
Broadcast: 1 July 1970
Broadcast: 15 July 1970
Broadcast: 29 July 1970
Broadcast: 12 August 1970
Broadcast: 26 August 1970
Guests: Barbara Murray, Dusty Springfield, Michael Redgrave, Flora Robson, Felix Aylmer, Robin Day, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, Bruce & Peter Davis, Ann Hamilton, Alan Curtis, Janet Webb, Penelope Beeching
Broadcast: 8 October 1970
Guests: Janet Webb, Kenny Ball, Paul Anka, Patricia Lambert
The programme was screened some three months after the first five episodes of the series, as a new production to introduce a run of repeats. This episode no longer exists, as information provided by the BBC to website www.lostshows.com proved.
Christmas Show 1970
The second seasonal offering saw the return of recurring guest star Peter Cushing who still hadn't been paid (a joke that was to continue well into their Thames Television days); also starring was William Franklyn who, at the time, fronted an advertising campaign for Schweppes lemonade with his "Shhh, You Know Who..." tagline. Much comedy was drawn from this, especially in light of the fact that the BBC was forbidden to advertise products. He appears in one of the duo's legendary plays at the end of the show in which the Three Musketeers are parodied. Well-known actor Edward Woodward also sang The Way You Look Tonight rather than appearing within a sketch has he had done in previous appearances.
Broadcast: 25 December 1970
Series Five (1971)
The plays what Ern wrote were now well into their stride and from series five were given their own spoof opening credits, recalled by many fans and regularly parodied to this day; the monk sketches continued and guest stars such as Flora Robson, Arthur Lowe and Ian Carmichael lined up to appear in the plays that closed many of the shows. In common with the previous year, 1971 saw two series of the show being produced, with the second being made at the time the first was screened. Series 5 was released on DVD in May 2009.
Broadcast: 8 April 1971
Broadcast: 22 April 1971
Broadcast: 6 May 1971
Broadcast: 20 May 1971
Guests: Jack Jones, Sheila Southern, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, Ann Hamilton, Gordon Clyde, Rex Rashley, Grazina Frame, Frank Tregar, Lillian Padmore, Michael Mulcaster, Stanley Mason, Janet Webb
Broadcast: 3 June 1971
Broadcast: 17 June 1971
Broadcast: 15 July 1971
Guests: Trio Athenee, Design, Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, Ann Hamilton, Rex Rashley, Gerald Case, Janet Webb
Series Six (1971)
The second of the 1971 series was to feature further classic sketches such as Tom Jones's rendition of Exactly Like You with Eric and Ernie as backing singers; respected actor John Mills in the prisoner of war play, with Eric advising him "and we've got your Mother on too" referring to the popular pianist of the period Mrs. Mills who also appeared that week; Keith Michell in the French Foreign Legion sketch; and Francis Matthews appearing in the House of Terror. This series also marked the last regular appearances of Janet Webb; although she would make return appearances later, she ceased to close the show. Series 6 was released on DVD in August 2009.
Broadcast: 19 September 1971
Broadcast: 26 September 1971
Broadcast: 3 October 1971
Broadcast: 10 October 1971
Broadcast: 17 October 1971
Broadcast: 31 October 1971
Christmas Show 1971
Considered by many to be their finest hour, the festive edition for 1971 contains several all-time classics such as Shirley Bassey singing Smoke Gets in Your Eyes whilst the boys re-arrange the scenery, with Bassey memorably ending with Eric's boots on, the Hollywood Melody with Glenda Jackson and the BBC newsreaders and, of course, André Previn conducting Eric's rendition of Greig's Piano Concerto (by Grieg!). The BBC's other headlining star Dick Emery also makes a brief but memorable cameo appearance in the opening spot of the show. Bassey also sang Diamonds Are Forever which of course had been the titular song to the James Bond film of the same years' release.
Broadcast: 25 December 1971
Christmas Show 1972
No series was produced in 1972 with the duo concentrating on a high-quality spectacular for Christmas Night, by this time their show had become a staple part of festive viewing and the pressure was on to deliver the goods. Braben had suffered a breakdown and was not producing material for some time, but they bounced back with another successful show. This show is a curious mix, showing that the by now established formula worked. For instance, the ridiculing of a guest singer by providing backing vocals and/or dancers is featured twice here, once with Vera Lynn and once with Jack Jones in what are basically similar routines. Also, there are two "plays", one with Pete Murray in the Great War epic Dawn Patrol and of course, the Prince Albert spoof at the conclusion of the show. Several guests from previous shows returned, as well as Vera Lynn singing Pass Me By with Eric and Ernie as backing, and Kenny Ball joining in the fun with the Cabaret finale to the Victoria & Albert play with Glenda Jackson.
Broadcast: 25 December 1972
Series Seven (1973)
The opening credits heralded a colourful rainbow of entertainment for the pair's return to regular shows, and 1973 saw a bumper twelve episode series with many memorable plays such as The Curse Of Tutankhamen with Robert Morley, The Mighty Kong with Susan Hampshire and the riotous health food shop sketch with Frank Williams, best known as the Reverend Timothy Farthing on Dad's Army. The series opened with Cliff Richard joining in for The Fleets' In Town after some persuasion! Series 7 was released in May 2010.
Broadcast: 5 January 1973
Guests: Cliff Richard, Vicki Carr
The series opened with a visit from pop star Cliff Richard to the pair's fictional flat, interrupting Eric's painting of his model Spitfire; whilst Ernie tries valiantly to be "hip" and "with it" sporting a terrible purple-flared trouser suit and red kaftan, the scene concludes with the three appearing as sailors for one of their most memorable routines based on The Fleet's In Town ending with Morecambe stepping off the ship and notable for the Playschool parody mid-way through.
Broadcast: 12 January 1973
Respected thespian Robert Morley appears in The Curse Of Tutankhamen in which it is discovered that the mighty king took some unusual items to his grave including a fan belt and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps! It is also revealed that his had a sister (Tutantesi, a parody on Two-Ton Tessie) who is revealed to still be alive and played by none other than Janet Webb otherwise known as the lady who comes down at the end.
Broadcast: 19 January 1973
Broadcast: 26 January 1973
This show featured The Mighty Kong as the closing play and featured the actress Susan Hampshire as the love interest; the comedically crude special effects including a chimpanzee wreaking havoc on a terrible scale model city (complete with biplane on string!) is a memorable moment, and the blue-screened apes at the back of the set are also one of their most fondly-recalled scenes. Fame & Price sang You Are My Sunshine and the show closed in the familiar way, with Bring Me Sunshine and an appearance from the amply-proportioned lady who comes down at the end.
Broadcast: 2 February 1973
Fresh from his appearance in the BBC's own adaptation of Casanova in which he played the title role, Frank Finlay appears in the play Lust Of London which centres around the main characters of Casanova and (of course!) Moveova with long-time collaborator Ann Hamilton providing the love interest. With music from Design and Wilma Reading who sang I Don't Know How to Love Him the show concluded with the usual appearance by the guest stars and Janet Webb.
Broadcast: 9 February 1973
Not all the shows concluded with a play What Ern Wrote and this is one notable case; instead there is a riotous scenario with Ernie deciding to get healthy, appearing at the flat with a large box of supposed health foods which were in vogue at the time. Eric fishes out a tin of "Sugar-Raspa" which of course turns out to be an asparagus tin upside down (!) before they both visit the associated shop, run by Frank Williams, at the time famous for playing the vicar in Dad's Army.
Broadcast: 16 February 1973
This programme was the subject of a documentary made by the BBC's Omnibus team entitled Fools Rush In which traced the production of a Morecambe & Wise show from its inception at the script read-through stage, through to the filming of the final product. It featured a scene set in 10 Downing Street which was closely followed in the documentary, with music from Anita Harris. The show was written by Eddie Braben, as was the majority of their output, and he is featured on the accompanying documentary being interviewed, as is producer John Ammonds among others.
Broadcast: 23 February 1973
Guests: Wilma Reading, Springfield Revival, Allan Cuthbertson, Ann Hamilton, Jan Rossini
Broadcast: 2 March 1973
Broadcast: 9 March 1973
Broadcast: 16 March 1973
Broadcast: 23 March 1973
Christmas Show 1973
By this time, an established running gag was the fact that our intrepid duo could not get stars to work with them, and this show features four cameo appearances from Yehudi Menuhin, Rudolf Nureyev, Laurence Olivier and André Previn all making excuses not to appear. Perhaps the most memorable is Lord Olivier who pretends to be a Chinese Laundry attendant over the telephone! Vanessa Redgrave joins in the Latin American Extravaganza, and the Napoleon & Josephine play, with music (suitably interrupted!) by John Hanson. The other memorable scene from this show is Hannah Gordon's effort to sing the song The Windmills of Your Mind used in the film The Thomas Crown Affair against a wind generator with "help"...
Broadcast: 25 December 1973
Series Eight (1974)
Having been devoid of "the lady who comes down at the end" for some time, this series saw the introduction of Arthur Tolcher as the harmonica player who would interrupt sketches and routines at the most critical moment only to be told "Not Now, Arthur" inevitably by Morecambe who would then sidle off stage grinning. There was no Christmas show this year but a compilation show was presented by the BBC on Christmas Night instead. The stand-out moment of the series is David Dimbleby's interview with the Salvation Army.
Broadcast: 27 September 1974
Guests: André Previn in a sketch that sees him lured back to perform with the duo after the memorable performance in 1971 of Grieg's Piano Concerto, Magnús Magnússon who referees the duo in an episode of Mastermind, Wilma Reading, Mrs Mills, who appears as the "queen of the ivories" as part of the musical number, and Arthur Tolcher
Broadcast: 7 October 1974
Broadcast: 11 October 1974
Guests: The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Wilma Reading, Jo Rowbottom, Aimee Delamain, Grazina Frame, Roy Sampson, Arthur Tolcher. This episode has a fault on the master recording resulting in the film freezing whilst the sound remains; it was released on DVD in July 2010 in this format.
Broadcast: 18 October 1974
Broadcast: 25 October 1974
Broadcast: 1 November 1974
Parkinson Takes A Christmas Look At Morecambe & Wise 1974
This was the only year that the duo were with the BBC that no festive programme was made and there was a decrease in their output after this time. Instead of a brand new show the pair were instead interviewed by Michael Parkinson who also introduced some of their most memorable clips from previous shows. Again, the programme was broadcast on the evening on 25 December but, other than the interview, there was no new footage available. Their slot was filled by the Mike Yarwood Show and the interview shown at 11.20pm.
Christmas Show 1975
After no regular shows at all in 1975 and no Christmas Show in 1974 the pair made a welcome return with a memorable festive offering penned by Eddie Braben; the opening routine which features the much maligned Des O'Connor is the most repeated piece of material still today, aside from Grieg's Piano Concerto from 1971. The show concludes with the historical romp Nell Gwynne which is a brilliant finale to the show and features the first location shots used for an end-of-show play with Diana Rigg in the title role and Gordon Jackson parodying his own character from Upstairs, Downstairs effectively. The show is interspersed with Robin Day who, over the course of the programme has his "friendly" discussion turned into a brawl, at the end of the programme, as Morecambe and Wise close with the song Positive Thinking, he is seen to stagger past with the aid of a walking stick. The show also features a parody of Big Spender with the two as dancers.
Broadcast: 25 December 1975
Series Nine (1976)
What was to be the last series of shows for the BBC had some stand-out moments, including the supposed appearance of Frank Sinatra which of course turned out to be part of the joke. This series also saw the making breakfast routine to the music of The Stripper which stands out as some of their finest work, and a trio with Lena Zavaroni. The Ernest Wise Players also present The Handyman & M'Lady with Michele Dotrice's unforgettable drivable bed!
Broadcast: 7 January 1976
Broadcast: 14 January 1976
Broadcast: 11 January 1976
Broadcast: 10 March 1976
Guests: Jackie Darnell, Kenny Ball, Allan Cuthbertson, Ann Hamilton, The Geraldine Yates Dancers
Broadcast: 24 March 1976
Guests: The Karlins, Vincent Zarra, Ann Hamilton, Steven Payne, Norman Percival, The Geraldine Yates Dancers
Broadcast: 19 April 1976
Christmas Show 1976
The only BBC show that Eric and Ernie made (save for series one) that wasn't penned exclusively by Eddie Braben. Instead, established writers Barry Cryer and John Junkin (among others) were drafted in to create what became another iconic show, with The Sweeney stars John Thaw and Dennis Waterman in the play, Elton John in the Won't You Play A Simple Melody? routine and, Angela Rippon's legs! The opening credits were a comic strip presentation, whilst closing credits had baby photographs of all the stars.
Broadcast: 25 December 1976
Eric & Ernie's Christmas Show 1977
The final BBC Christmas Show attracted audience figures of 28.5 million, a record that has still to be broken; this was also the first time that Christian names were used in the opening titles, the "boys" having become something of a national institution by this stage. The following opening sequence features a parody of Starsky and Hutch, in which the comics star as 'Starkers' and 'Krutch', driving through the streets in a red Mini Clubman emblazoned with the same white vector stripe as seen on the TV crimefighters' Ford Torino.
Boasting the longest guest list of all their shows, the casts of both Dad's Army (which by that time had finished its run) and The Good Life all appeared, as did Elton John (eventually!), and the classic There Is Nothing Like A Dame routine featuring a host of BBC news presenters. Angela Rippon also reprised her high-kicking role from the previous Christmas show and Angharad Rees struggled against the blizzards to duet with Ernie. It was a fine finale to Morecambe and Wise's career that was never quite the same at Thames Television.
Broadcast: 25 December 1977
Guests: Penelope Keith, Elton John, Angharad Rees, Francis Matthews, Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, John Laurie, Richard Briers, Paul Eddington, James Hunt, Stella Starr, Michael Parkinson, Angela Rippon, Michael Aspel, Richard Baker, Frank Bough, Philip Jenkinson, Kenneth Kendall, Barry Norman, Eddie Waring, Richard Whitmore, Peter Woods, Sandra Dainty, Jenny Lee-Wright, Valerie Leon
Availability on DVD
The first series of the show was wiped from the BBC archives and only 25 minutes of one episode now survives in poor quality; this was however included on the DVD release of the complete second series in 2007; also in 2007 the complete third series was released including the Golden Rose Of Montreux episode.
The complete set of Christmas Shows was released as a three-disc set in November 2007 but it is worth noting that the cover art of the pair, in white dinner suits and top hats, is actually a publicity still from their later years with Thames Television and one of the photographs on the back cover featuring Cliff Richard is taken from a sketch that doesn't appear in any of their festive programmes.
The fourth series was released on DVD in April 2008 but does not include the sixth episode of the series which no longer exists. The fifth series was released on 4 May 2009. The sixth series has been released on 3 August 2009. The seventh series was released on 3 May 2010. The eighth series was released on 5 July 2010, and the ninth series was released on 23 August 2010.
A complete box-set containing all nine series and all Christmas specials has been released on 4th October 2010.
Stars AssociatesEddie Braben (writer) · Anne Hamilton (co-star) · Dick Hills (writer) · Sid Green (writer) · Barry Cryer (writer) · John Junkin (writer) · Arthur Tolcher (co-star) · John Ammonds (producer) · Ernest Maxin (choreographer) · Janet Webb (co-star) · Rex Rashley (co-star) · Joseph McGrath (director) · Bill Cotton (executive) · Lew Grade (manager) · Michael Grade (manager) · Billy Marsh (agent) · Bernard Delfont (executive) · Lew Grade (executive]] · Television Film Books by
Eric & Ernie : The Autobiography Of Morecambe & Wise(1973) · Eric Morecambe On Fishing (1982, Morecambe Only) · Over The Moon...Sick As A Parrot (1982, Morecambe Only) · Still On My Way To Hollywood (1990, Wise Only) · Morecambe & Wise : There's No Answer To That! (1982, Both) · The Reluctant Vampire (1981, Morecambe Only) · The Vampires Revenge (1983, Morecambe Only) · Mister Lonely (1980, Morecambe Only) · Stella (1984, Morecambe Only)
Behind The Sunshine (Gary Morecambe) · The Morecambe & Wise Joke Book (Compilation) · Morecambe & Wife (Joan Morecambe) · Morecambe & Wise: The Biography (Graham McCann) · Eric Morecambe Unseen (William Cook) · Memories Of Eric (Gary Morecambe) · Eric Morecambe: Funny Man (Gary Morecambe) · Morecambe & Wise: A Celebration · There's No Answer To That! (Jeremy Novak) Little Ern! (Robert Sellors)
Bring Me Sunshine:A Gala Evening (1984) · Bring Me Sunshine: Morecambe & Wise (1994) · I Worked With Morecambe & Wise...And Look What Happened To Me! (1995) · The Unforgettable Eric Morecambe (2001) · The Play What I Wrote(2001) · The Adventures Of Morecambe & Wise (1996) · Morecambe & Wise: Encore! (1995) · Morecambe & Wise: Greatest Moments (2008) · Morecambe (2009) · Eric & Ernie: Behind The Scenes (2010)
List of joint projects · "Bring Me Sunshine" (Song) · "Positive Thinking..." (Song) · "We Get Along So Easily, Don't You Agree?" (Song) · "Bingle Jells" (Song) The Importance Of Being Ernie (1990) · "Following You Around" (Song) · "The Sunshine Song" (Song, Wise Only) · Morecambe & Wise : In Their Own Words (2007) · Morecambe & Wise : The Show What Paul Merton Did (2008) · Eric & Ernie (2010)
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