Two Of A Kind
Article from the Look-In TV Comedy Annual - 1974
Eric and Ern flying high
Morecambe & Wise rank alongside bacon and eggs, cheese and pickles and bubble and squeak as one of the great partnerships of our time. Which is, as they say, food for thought!
As an act, they’re like Siamese twins. “We have,” says Eric Morecambe, who rarely takes anything seriously, “and emotional Thai!”
They decided to form a partnership in 1940 – and the true storey of how they got together has rarely been told.
“We were travelling on a train from Birmingham to Coventry during the blitz when Eric’s mother, Mrs Sarah Bartholomew*, who was accompanying us, suggested that we should try to become a double act,” says Ernie Wise, renowned for his short, fat hairy legs.
“It seemed to be an idea along the right lines,” rejoins Eric.
The pair had been appearing together in a show called Youth Takes A Bow. They got together, and the result has been a million laughs. They’ve only been separated twice.
Once when Ernie went into the Merchant Navy and Eric went down the mines. “Our service years can be summed up very simply,” says Eric, “I was a coal porter and Ernie, who found an Eskimo girlfriend during his travels over the seven seas, became a Pole courter. We’ve always had a lot in common.”
The only other separation came when Eric had his much ballyhooed heart attack and was out of the spotlight for several months.
Then Ernie Wise was described as “wearing the bravely puzzled air of a man trying to scratch a newly amputated leg.”
“The only reason he’d have a leg amputated is so that he wouldn’t have to foot the bill.” says Eric.
“He’s been that way ever since he worked for NATO.” Says Ernie, in a Scottish accent.
It’s difficult to stay serious with them for a moment.
Since they’ve been together, they’ve had more duo success than Batman and Robin – with a string of stage, screen and film hits; they are indeed, beyond compare.
They are now firmly established as Britain’s favourite laughter makers, but claim equal fame as, in Eric’s case, a director of Luton Town FC, and, as a partnership, Britain’s best-known collectors of beer mats.
The hobby, officially, is called Tegestology, and, true to form, Eric and Ern, have an explanation for the word.
“‘Teges’ comes from the Latin for mat.” Says Eric. “For example, Julius Caesar, when attacking Britain, always reckoned his advance guard had a mat finish. They were called advan-teges. Ology originated because we’ve always liked beef and pickle ology sandwiches. What’s a pickled ology? We’re not really sure, but we’re always getting served with them when we’re doing the dance of the seven Army Blankets at W.I. meetings!”
That’s Morecambe. That’s Wise. Normal service is never resumed, even if it’s possible…
*This article names Eric's mother as Sarah. Although this was her real name, she was more commonly known as Sadie.
© Look-In TV Comedy Annual 1974