Swinging Doors On Their Minds
In the rehearsal room not more than a lion’s roar from the London zoo, “Sick and Did” are trying to open the door without actually doing so. And they are deadly serious about it, for there’s nothing funny about trying to make people laugh.
Eric and Ern in 1962
They are Dick Hills and Sid Green, scriptwriters behind the new Bernard Delfont series, The Morecambe and Wise Show, starting next Saturday.
Sid, who wears glasses and is the thinner of the pair, suggests: “how would it be if we had a door so small that Morecambe and Wise could not possibly pass through?”
Dick thinks about this and takes up the idea: “we could make them drink a magic potion which shrinks them….”
They arrive at the “pay-off” together: “then that they shrink so much that when they return to the door they are too small to reach the handle.”
And that is one more “door” routine out of the way and some more laughs guaranteed when Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe face the TV millions.
Sid and Dick - it was Morecambe and Wise who change that to “Sick and Did” – are, as it were, the two lunatics behind the two lunatics.
They have over 300 to TV comedy scripts to their credit. In various guises they appear in each of the coming M and W shows.
Devising a different “door” gag each week for Morecambe and Wise has been one of their headaches. As the series runs to nine shows the problem at first looked pretty difficult.
They introduced a weekly “door“ joke in the first M and W series and these became so popular that they were asked to dream up the nine variations.
But there is much more to the series than “door” routines. Guest artists include the Beverley sisters, The Kaye Sisters, Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr, and leading jazz bands led by Kenny Ball, Chris Barber, Acker Bilk and Terry Lightfoot.
When you Can stop them dreaming up fresh gags, ideas and situations and get them relaxing over a cup of tea, “Sick and Did” admit that they have each been captain of Harberdashers’ Aske’s school in South London. Their partnership started seven years ago.
“We hate being described as funny men,” says Sid, a former Army captain who, like his partner, now earns around £8,000 a year from comedy. “We prefer to be thought serious. That way, when we make people laugh it comes as a surprise.”
“It wasn’t easy to get started.” says Dick. “For some six months we tried to get someone to look at our work.”
He had been to Cambridge, served as a naval officer, and for six years had been teaching English at his old school before he became a script writer.
How do you write for a chap like Eric Morecambe who is liable to put one hand under Ernie Wise’s throat and say “Get out of that”?
“Our system,” says Sid, “is that we don’t attempt to write a script. All our writing is done on the backs of envelopes or scraps of paper. We explain to the artists that TV is visual, so instead of presenting a formal script we act out ideas.”
© TV Times 1962