Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

The Morecambe and Wise Story

Feature from 2007

Ernie aged 11

Eric aged 14

A young double act
Comic genius’s who, in a career spanning 40 years, managed to capture the hearts and minds of a nation like no other. In this feature will give you a basic run down of the key points in their careers. There are many many publications available that go into more detail, most of which have been reviewed in the book section.

How it all started…

In a small area within Leeds called Bramley, Ernest Wiseman was born on 27th November 1925. The eldest of five children born to Harry and Connie Wiseman. Ern began his showbusiness career with his dad in act called “Carson and the Kid”

A year later on the 14th May, John Eric Bartholomew born in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire. The only child of Sadie and George Bartholomew.

Eric took his first steps on the entertainment ladder by joining his cousin Peggy at Miss Hunter’s Dance class. Legend has it that Eric’s mother, Sadie, sent him to the dance class in an attempt to give the lively young boy an outlet for his energy. Shortly after, Eric starts a song and dance act with a local girl called Molly Bunting.

Entering talent shows in the hope of becoming famous and urged on by his mother, Eric finally won a contest in 1939, the prize was an audition for Jack Hylton. The audition was in Manchester and watching it, alongside Hylton was a certain Ernest Wiseman. It is at this audition that they first met. Hylton was suitably impressed by the young Eric, telling his mother; “Mrs Bartholomew, your boy has talent. Maybe we can use him”.

“Mrs Bartholomew, your boy has talent. Maybe we can use him”

As the two toured the music halls, Ernie, on his own by this time, was taken in by Sadie and soon became best friends with Eric. Around 1941 Sadie suggested that Eric and Ern put their energies together and form a double act, and so Bartholomew And Wise took shape. They appeared for the very first time as a double act at the Liverpool Empire in 1941. Later this year Eric changed his name to Morecambe, creating the now famous Morecambe & Wise.

The act was broken up in 1943, as Ernie got the call to war and Eric was sent down the mines as a Bevin boy in Accrington.

Bad health and mild heart problems caused Eric to be invalided out, and a chance meeting on Regent Street, London with Ernie in 1946, got them together again as an act.

During their many tours, Eric met a dance girl called Joan Bartlett, and announced that she was the girl he would marry. Although not immediately taken with Eric, the attraction grew and less than a year later on the 11th December 1952, she became Mrs. Joan Morecambe.

Not one to be outdone, Ernie had also been courting a young lady, and after a 5 year romance, he finally married Doreen Blythe on 18th January 1953.

Fame found Eric and Ern, or rather they chased fame, and eventually got their own radio show in the same year, “You’re Only Young Once”, or YOYO as it was affectionately known.

As popular radio stars, they were offered their first television series in 1954, and quickly grasped the idea to produce “Running Wild”. The critics slated it, and from that moment on, Eric always carried with him one of the reviews to remind him of how bad things could be.

“What's the definition of a television? - the box they buried Morecambe & Wise in."

© 2007
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