List of The Morecambe & Wise Show (1978–1983) episodes
- This article covers the episodes made by Thames Television for ITV. For the earlier BBC shows, see The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968–1977) and List of The Morecambe & Wise Show (1968–1977) episodes.
Following English comedy double-act Morecambe & Wise's move from the BBC to Thames Television in the late-1970s, Thames continued using The Morecambe & Wise Show title (from their BBC show) for the television series and specials the duo made for ITV between 1978 and 1983.
Having previously worked for ITV associate ATV in the 1960s making the series Two of a Kind, Morecambe and Wise had then spent nine years at the BBC making the original Morecambe & Wise Show; their record-breaking 1977 Christmas special on BBC 1 was their last episode before their return to ITV.
At Thames, the duo made four series of The Morecambe & Wise show, and several specials including Christmas shows. Their last episode was broadcast at Christmas 1983.
- 1 Special 1978
- 2 "Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show" 1978
- 3 "Christmas With Eric & Ernie" 1979
- 4 Series One (1980)
- 5 Christmas With Morecambe & Wise 1980
- 6 Series Two (1981)
- 7 Christmas Show 1981
- 8 Series Three (1982)
- 9 Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show 1982
- 10 Series Four (1983)
- 11 Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show 1983
- 12 References
- 13 External links
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 a 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 pet shop sketch with the "Will he come out for a bit of Kit Kat?" line, itself a nod to the fact the duo were now on commercial television. The episode is available on DVD as part of a Thames TV set released in March 2008.
Broadcast: 18 October 1978
"Eric & Ernie's Xmas Show" 1978
The line-up for the first Thames Christmas Show featured several guest stars. Leonard Rossiter provided the third Andrews Sister in a Fabulous Forties segment; and a spoof This Is Your Life' with the Royal Family opening the show. Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson made an appearance, though this was leaked in the press in advance. In one sequence, 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: 25 December 1978
"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 Tawt 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: 25 December 1979
Series 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. This is at odds with a statement made by Bill Cotton, who had agreed with Morecambe & Wise that if they remained at the BBC, they could make as many or as few shows as they chose, for the same payment. 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 Three 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 a 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.
Broadcast: 3 September 1980
Broadcast: 10 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. Frank Coda also features.
Broadcast: 17 September 1980
Contents: the opening scene sees David Prowse as Ernie's bodyguard "Cosmo" fresh from his appearance as Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, and also features a new sketch set in a Chinese Restaurant; Anthony Chinn, Raymond Mason and Fiesta Mei Ling also feature.
Broadcast: 24 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. 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.
Broadcast: 1 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.
Broadcast: 8 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.) Gemma Craven joins Little Ern in another Gene Kelly recreation, this time to an 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.
Broadcast: 25 December 1980
Series 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. 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.
Broadcast: 1 September 1981
Guests: Gemma Craven
Broadcast: 8 September 1981
Broadcast: 15 September 1981
Guests: Diane Keen
Broadcast: 22 September 1981
Broadcast: 29 September 1981
Broadcast: 6 October 1981
Broadcast: 13 October 1981
Christmas Show 1981
This show marked in some ways the fact that Morecambe & Wise were no longer a prime 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 23 December. This was also because, until 1982, Thames Television only operated from Monday at 9.25am until Friday at 7pm; 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 (and including future assistant on The Generation Game - Rosemary Ford - in the dance troupe), 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.
Broadcast: 23 December 1981
Series Three (1982)
By the time the third series was made Eddie Braben had returned to the fold for the first time since 1980, but the productions came at a time when Morecambe's health was failing; 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.
Broadcast: 27 October 1982)
Broadcast: 3 November 1982
Broadcast: 10 November 1982
Guests: Roy Castle (performing Copacabana)
Broadcast: 17 November 1982
Broadcast: 24 November 1982
Broadcast: 1 December 1982
Broadcast: 8 December 1982
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 and 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 Chattanooga Choo Choo routine. Notable of this and many other shows was the absence of the favourite signature tune over the end credits. Again, this show was not broadcast on Christmas Night but two evenings later.
Broadcast: 27 December 1982
Series Four (1983)
The fourth and what was to be final series on "the other side." Sketches included Gandhi 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 overrun and the popular Ern masterpiece could not be performed as planned.
Broadcast: 7 September 1983
Broadcast: 14 September 1983
Guests: David Kernan
Broadcast: 21 September 1983
Guests: Stutz Bear Cats
Broadcast: 5 October 1983
Guests: Cherry Gillespie
Broadcast: 12 October 1983
Broadcast: 19 October 1983
Guests: Harry Fowler
Eric & Ernie'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 were 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 was set in Malaysia with the musical ending performed by puppets. 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. A song-and-dance number of 'Swinging Down The Lane' closes the proceedings but there's no signature tune to be heard.
Broadcast: 26 December 1983
- Morecambe & Wise website
- Eric And Ern – Keeping The Magic Alive **Book, Film, TV Reviews, Interviews**