Morecambe & Wise Show (1978) Episodes

Morecambe & Wise Show (1978) Episodes

The Morecambe & Wise Show (1978) is generally considered as the output of Morecambe & Wise after they parted company with the BBC following their record-breaking 1977 Christmas Show.

pecial 1978

No series was made in 1978 in an effort to make the Christmas Show stronger, but there was one hour-long offering (the same length as the BBC shows had been, but with adverts. This opened with an amusing sequence whereby a lorry with a BBC logo emblazoned on its side, appears at Thames Television's studios, the back doors are flung open, and Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise are thrown out, in a direct nod to the bad feeling that was present at the time the partnership had departed their previous employers. The format remained reasonably faithful to that used previously although Eddie Braben did not join them immediately. There's the familiar end-of-show play "What Ern Wrote", this time it is a pastiche of "Dr Jekyll & Mrs Hyde": however, there is a more cinematic feel to the parody and it moves beyond the confines of being a single set stage piece. There is also a brilliant pet shop sketch with the memorable "will he come out for a bit of kit kat?" line, itself a nod to the fact the duo were now on commercial television. Overall, this is a pretty strong performance and is now available on DVD as part of a Thames TV set released in March 2008.

Broadcast: 18th October 1978

Guests: Donald Sinden, Judi Dench, Leonard Sachs, Peter Cushing, Derek Griffiths, Syd Lawrence, Ann Hamilton

"Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show" 1978

The eyes of nation were waiting for their favourite double-act to deliver the goods having defected from the BBC and they were not disappointed. With a strong line-up of guest stars, notably Leonard Rossiter fresh from success in The Fall & Rise Of Reginald Perrin who provided the third Andrews Sister (!) in a "Fabulous Forties" segment and a spoof "This Is Your Life"' with the Royal Family opening the show the only let down was the fact that the press had leaked the fact that recently-resigned Prime Minister Harold Wilson was to appear. The show was a success nonetheless but would have been more so if the appearance of the ex-premier had been kept quiet. There is one particularly amusing incident when Wilson manages to upset Morecambe who disappears to the back of the flat, returning with a "Maggie Rules O.K." banner, a reference to Margaret Thatcher who would soon become Prime Minister the following year. Broadcast: 25th December 1978

Guests: Leonard Rossiter, Frank Finlay, Sir Harold Wilson, Eamonn Andrews

"Christmas With Eric & Ernie" 1979

This was the only television programme the duo made in this year, with Morecambe's heart attack ensuing a lull in their activities. To a certain extent, the duo's output was seen to be "playing it safe" by bringing back safe and established guest stars and this edition saw the return of actress Glenda Jackson and the inevitable Des O'Connor as well as newcomer to the show, David Frost who interviewed the duo about their long career. The show was more of an interview on the whole, but there was some newly-made material, the stand-out section being a mimed version of the novelty song "I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat" with Morecambe as the mischievous Sylvester the cat and Wise as Tweety Pie. Harking back to the duo's previous incarnation at the BBC the programme also featured Arthur Tolcher (not now, Arthur!) and Janet Webb who had appeared at the end of their show ten years previously as "the lady who comes down at the end. The show played heavily on the pair's previous success with their festive programmes, and further cemented their relationship with the viewing public by appearing despite Morecambe's poor health. As a joke on his recent heart by-pass operation, Morecambe was not permitted to descend the staircase in the studio and this duty was performed by Garfield Morgan. However, when Morecambe did appear, he ran up and down the same staircase several times to prove his fitness. When united with Wise the pair embraced and stated how good it was to be back together again. They returned to form the following year with another full series, their first since 1976.

Broadcast: 25th December 1979

Guests: David Frost, Glenda Jackson, Des O'Connor, Garfield Morgan, Janet Webb, Arthur Tolcher

eries One (1980)

Sources conflict as to the structure of the output of the double-act during their time at Thames Television, one of the reasons they had chosen to part company with the BBC has been the stress of multiple shows, and the offer of making films via Euston Films, Thames film-making branch had been another factor. No series had been made in 1978 or 1979 (Eric's heart problems were also a contributing factor to this however) but in 1980 work began on a further series. Often listed as "occasional specials" in a similar vein to the work by their contemporary Benny Hill (Hill generally made four hour-long specials a year) these shows were shown in a generally consistent order and can therefore be considered as series rather than specials. However, whereas the BBC shows were a continuous fifty minutes of entertainment, these shows were half-hour format with advert breaks making them easily under half the length of the previous shows. Some elements were retained from their time with the BBC, notably the in-joke of Peter Cushing not being paid for over a decade, and some good material was used, such as Hannah Gordon's rendition of the "Banana Boat Song" and the flat sketch with Ernie's supposed au-pair and appearances by Alec Guinness and Peter Barkworth. There were, however still re-hashes of BBC material such as the visit of the fellow writer to the flat (this time Hugh Paddick does the honours), the legionnaires sketch and another "This Is Your Life Parody". This series, together with the first four specials, were released on DVD in March 2008. This has given fans a chance to reappraise the beginning of the Thames era; indeed, most of these programmes have fine moments and the production values are just as high as those of the BBC, and the duo appear to have been unfairly treated for their later output. This can possibly be attributed to the lack of repeat showings of these programmes, and heavy edits of any repeated shows.

Episode One

Broadcast: 3rd September 1980

Content: the sketch featuring Terry Wogan is largely a re-hash of a routine done with Cliff Richard some years earlier although there are updates, and the production number at the end is different. However, Morecambe appears to be in good health and he is clearly relishing the opportunity to be performing again. A good start to a fine series.

Episode Two

Broadcast: 10th September 1980

Content: the sequence that features Hannah Gordon re-uses material from her previous appearance on a BBC show, only the song at the end changes, and the sketch with Hugh Paddick as the "fellow writer" is directly copied from a previous BBC incarnation too. Only the nature of the comedy in this sketch have dated it somewhat, with stereotypical allusions to homosexuality - although Morecambe's jibes are good natured and largely inoffensive. Frank Coda also features.

Episode Three

Broadcast: 17the September 1980

Contents: the opening scene sees Dave Prowse as Ernie's bodyguard "Cosmo" fresh from his fame as Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, and also features a new sketch set in a Chinese Restaurant which is something of a return to form; Anthony Chinn, Raymond Mason and Fiesta Mei Ling also star.

Episode Four

Broadcast: 24th September 1980

Contents: Deryck Guyler appears in a flat scene as a local vicar who turns out to be a champion spoon and washboard champion; one suspects this routine was re-worked and written especially for Guyler who was himself a keen washboard player and percussionist. Gerald Case also stars and, in line with other programmes in this series, Guyler performs the signature tune "Bring Me Sunshine" with Wise, whilst Morecambe "goes and waits for the bus" only to disturb the song.

Episode Five

Broadcast: 1st October 1980

Contents: With further reworkings from the BBC era Suzanne Danielle appears as a budding writer (the BBC routine featured a character that Morecambe refers to as "Miss Flanagan & Allen", and there's also a travel agent sketch featuring Valerie Minfie as Morecambe's largely mute wife. The pay-off to the flat-based sketch sees sit-com star Tessa Wyatt appear and she also performs the final song with Wise, whilst Morecambe again disappears only to re-appear and disrupt the proceedings.

Episode Six

Broadcast: 8th October 1980

Contents: In another re-working of a popular BBC routine, Morecambe appears as a "Hell's Grandad" complete with three-wheeled bike. This had previously been a feature showing him as "Spick Sparkle" (the new singing sensation) and is re-used here to good effect. Harking back to the glory days of the BBC, Gemma Craven joins Little Ern in another Gene Kelly recreation, this time to a clever arrangement of "Bring Me Sunshine" whilst Morecambe interrupts the proceedings in usual riotous style.

Christmas With Morecambe & Wise 1980

Another outing sees further material re-used; the opening spot on-stage is however largely new and sees Eric presenting Ernie with a life-sized monogrammed wallet which he is at times. duly trapped inside; following this Mick McManus replaces Henry Cooper in a re-worked sketch, Jill Gascoigne visits the duo for dinner (previously Ann Hamilton had appeared in this sketch), a new Rolf Harris sketch also features, Alec Guinness is the doctor who sees two as one, and Peter Barkworth provides the butt for jokes in the "Ernie Wise's Hamlet" skit at the end. The Show closed with the signature tune Bring Me Sunshine. Overall, this Xmas show had some excellent moments but suffered from being a bit flat

Broadcast: 25th December 1980

Guests: Peter Barkworth, Glenda Jackson, Jill Gascoigne, Hannah Gordon, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Peter Vaughan, Gemma Craven

eries Two (1981)

Following the seasonal special a further series (or "occasional specials") were produced and these still featured re-used ideas from the BBC era; one thing to be said in defence of this action was that some of the re-used material was over ten years old and this was before the age of home-recording so many of the routines would be possibly forgotten. Highlights from this series include the return of "The Connoisseurs" who discuss British Rail's catering expertise, the pet shop sketch, miracle hair restore and Ern's bath time. Peter Bowles appeared in a re-done doctor's sketch and Suzanne Danielle joined the duo in their own interpretation of "All That Jazz", the final episode featured Ern's production of "The Barretts Of Wimpole Street" starring Joanna Lumley.

Episode One

Broadcast: 1st September 1981

Guests: Gemma Craven

Episode Two

Broadcast: 8th September 1981 Guests: Richard Vernon, Max Bygraves

Episode Three

Broadcast: 15th September 1981

Guests: Diane Keen

Episode Four

Broadcast: 22nd September 1981

Guests: Hannah Gordon, George Chisholm, Richard Vernon

Episode Five

Broadcast: 29th September 1981

Guests: Peter Bowles, Suzanne Danielle

Episode Six

Broadcast: 6th October 1981

Guests: Robert Hardy, Ian Ogilvy, Kay Korda

Episode Seven

Broadcast: 13th October 1981

Guests: Joanna Lumley, Richard Vernon

Christmas Show 1981

This show marked in some ways the fact the Morecambe & Wise were no longer a bankable asset; it was the first time in their television careers that their festive offering had not been broadcast on Christmas Night, the schedulers opting instead for 23rd December. This was also because Thames Television only operated from Monday at 9.25am until Friday at 5.15pm; as Christmas Day fell on a Friday, London Weekend Television (LWT) held the franchise to broadcast that evening. The guest list was nonetheless impressive with Ralph Richardson heading up a stellar list, Suzanne Danielle doing a "Razzle Dazzle" routine with the boys, a re-hash of the BBC health food shop routine, now featuring Valerie Minfie, and the obligatory play, which was "Julius Caesar", a thinly covered remake of the popular BBC sketch "Antony & Cleopatra" from ten years earlier. This show saw M&W use technology more to gain laughs with blue screen techniques being used in some sketches. This show had more energy than the previous Xmas special and was something of a return to form. However, the re-using of old material was again evident and Morecambe, in particular, was unhappy at this. Indeed, he does respond better to the new material and these provide the real gems in this special.

Broadcast: 23rd December 1981 Guests: Ralph Richardson, Robert Hardy, Ian Ogilvy, Susannah York, Alvin Stardust, Suzanne Danielle

eries Three (1982)

By the time the third series was made Eddie Braben had returned to the fold since 1980, but the productions still lacked the spark of the BBC shows, due in part to Morecambe's failing health; a reworking of the classic "claiming benefit for sixteen children" featured in the first show, and the play "Captain Blood" with Richard Briers concluded. The "Ten Years Hence" sketch was also redone, and fresh from her success with [Larry Grayson in The Generation Game was Isla St Clair. The final episode of the series contained a new play, being Sherlock Holmes with Nigel Hawthorne taking the part of Professor Moriarty and Patricia Brake as Bertha the maid. This Holmes sketch was a tour-de-force and is full of wonderful moments and is one of the Thames era highlights.

Episode One

Broadcast: 27th October 1982)

Guests: Richard Briers, Diana Dors

Episode Two

Broadcast: 3rd November 1982

Guests: Trevor Eve, Wayne Sleep, Jimmy Young

Episode Three

Broadcast: 10th November 1982

Guests: Roy Castle

Episode Four

Broadcast: 17th November 1982

Guests: Colin Welland, Isla St Clair

Episode Five

Broadcast: 24th November 1982

Guests: Patricia Brake, Royce Mills

Episode Six

Broadcast: 1st December 1982

Guests: Alan Dobie, Marian Montgomery

Episode Seven

Broadcast: 8th December 1982

Guests: Nigel Hawthorne, Patricia Brake

Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show 1982

Returning from the previous seasonal show was All Creatures Great & Small star Robert Hardy, joined by both Rula Lenska, Richard Vernon [ who had appeared in previous shows; the opening routine perhaps prophetically discussed the retiring of the double act but this in itself was a further reworking of BBC material but somehow the pace of the dialogue was becoming lost. In an update of several older sketches, the "Video Shop" was offered as well as a "Lingere Shop" and a Chatanooga Choo Choo routine. Notable of this and many other shows was the absence of the favourite signature tune over the end credits. It was a very small omission but one that did not go unnoticed by the viewing public. Again, this show was not broadcast on Christmas Night but two evenings later.

Broadcast 27th December 1982 Guests: Robert Hardy, Rula Lenska, Richard Vernon, Wall Street Crash

eries Four (1983)

The fourth and what was to be final series on "the other side" had some strong material attributed largely to the return of Eddie Braben but the pace of the act was not as it had been ten years previously, or even five. The comedy was still good, but in a way the public had come to expect the very best from Eric and Ernie, so if they delivered a "good" "solid" show it was still seen as average. That said there are some nuggets in the series, including "Ghandi Morecambe", the "Swiss Slapping Dance" (resurrected from their live stage show), and a feature which is almost self-parodying called "No Time For..." which would be suffixed with a title each week, i.e. "No Time For Robin Hood" or Elvis, Long John Silver, etc., meaning that the show had over-run and the popular Ern masterpiece could not be performed as planned.

Episode One

Broadcast: 7th September 1983

Guests: Margaret Courtenay, Ann Dawson

Episode Two

Broadcast: 14th September 1983

Guests: David Kernan

Episode Three

Broadcast: 21st September 1983

Guests: Stutz Bear Cats

Episode Four

Broadcast: 5th October 1983

Guests: Cherry Gillespie

Episode Five

Broadcast: 12th October 1983 Guests: Margaret Courtenay, Stutz Bear Cats, Peter & Jackie Firmani

Episode Six

Broadcast: 19th October 1983

Guests: Harry Fowler

Eric & Ernies's Xmas Show 1983

What was to be the duo's final festive offering was billed once again as "Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show" and some re-hashed material from earlier BBC shows despite Eddie Braben's continued input. The most notable re-used ideas was the "Harpenden Hot-Shots" and the final play "What Ern Wrote" was entitled "The Planter's Wife" and featured Nanette Newman in the titular role. This sketch set in Malaysia has some good moments but the musical ending is done by some poorly realised puppets, perhaps a sign that Morecambe was no longer fit enough for an extended dance routine. The sketch that had aired originally in the 1976 seasonal show with Elton John ("sounds like an exit on the motorway...") was thinly re-worked here with Peter Skellern in the same role - although the timing here is off and Morecambe looks to be going through the motions. A song-and-dance number of 'Swinging Down The Lane' closes the proceedings but there's no signature tune to be heard.

Broadcast: 26th December 1983

Guests: Gemma Craven, Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Jacobi, Fulton Mackay, Nanette Newman, Peter Skellern, Patrick Mower, Burt Kwok, Tony Monopoly

ee also

* Eric Morecambe
* Ernie Wise
* Morecambe & Wise
* Eddie Braben
* Two Of A Kind (1961)
* The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968)
* Morecambe & Wise Show (1968) Episodes
* The Passionate Pilgrim (1983)
* Night Train To Murder
* The Complete Morecambe & Wise


External links

* [ Tribute to Morecambe & Wise website]
* [ Morecambe & Wise website]

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