Two of a Kind (UK TV series)

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Two of a Kind was an early TV series for comedy duo Morecambe and Wise. It ran from 1961 to 1968 on ATV.

History[edit]

On the back of success on stage in their double act in 1961 the comic partnership of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were offered a series for ATV by impresario Lew Grade. Paired with writers Sid Green and Dick Hills, the series fared poorly to start with. Early episodes saw Hills and Green writing for the comedians as if Morecambe and Wise were alter egos of the writers. There was an argument between the writers and the talent which was ended by an Equity strike which left the autumn television schedules in tatters. Green commented to Morecambe "You're done for", to which Morecambe replied "Not at all, we belong to VAF". The Variety Artists' Federation was then a separate trade union since incorporated into Equity. The tables turned and Morecambe and Wise got their way. The sketches began to reflect their stage work and series became a success. Indeed, Hills and Green even appeared in the series as "Sid and Dick" - two all-purpose stooges.

The series introduced several catchphrases (such as "Get out of that!"; "That's not nice"; "I'll smash your face in"; and "Tea Ern?") which would stay with them throughout their careers - as well as Morecambe's famous paper bag trick - as well as an original opening segment which saw the pair parody other series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dixon of Dock Green and Take Your Pick. It also attracted special guests such as Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson and The Beatles; performances of "This Boy" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand", along with a comedy skit involving the group, were released on the Anthology 1 compilation album in 1995. The celebrities were generally humiliated by the pair, and especially by Morecambe's playful insults, undermining the status of the celebrities, joking that they were "rubbish" and pretending not to recognise them. Generally, the higher the status of the celebrities, the greater the humiliation.

The sixth Morecambe and Wise series for ATV was planned from the start to be aired in the United Kingdom as well as exported to the United States and Canada. It was taped in colour and starred international guests, often American. Prior to its British run, it was broadcast in North America by ABC network as a summer replacement for re-runs of The Hollywood Palace under the title The Piccadilly Palace from May 20 to September 9, 1967. The duo had appeared in the U.S. on The Ed Sullivan Show and hoped to become stars there, but negotiations for a longer run broke down when the show's ratings were strong in Canada but weak in the U.S. Lew Grade, who represented the comedians in the negotiations, said in his autobiography that the disappointing American ratings were a result of the comedians' refusal to slow down their fast-paced act.

In 1968, as a result of problems with contract negotiations with Lew Grade (they were not offered enough money or the chance to appear in colour), Morecambe and Wise left ITV to return to the BBC.

Archive status[edit]

The first series was billed as Sir Bernard Delfont Presents Morecambe & Wise and it wasn't until the second series appeared that it became known as Two Of A Kind. However, it is generally perceived that the first series is included under the banner heading, leading to the understanding that the first series of Two Of A Kind is missing from the archives. This is in fact not true; the first series of that title does exist in its entirety, but it is the second series to feature the duo. All other series remain intact, with the final series believed to exist with some episodes in full colour.

Home Media Releases[edit]

Beginning in 1993 a Best Of compilation of VHS videos totalling six volumes were released comprising material from all series, these omitted advertisement breaks and musical guest stars and did not always feature chronological sequences.

The first complete series titled Morecambe & Wise - Two Of A Kind : The Complete First Series on Region 2 was released on 18 August 2011 leading to some conjecture that it is in fact the second series (see above) but this is in fact the first series of Two Of A Kind.

The second complete series titled Morecambe & Wise - Two Of A Kind : The Complete Second Series is scheduled by Network DVD for official release on 31 December 2014 with further seasons to follow.

External links[edit]