Two of a Kind (UK TV series)

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The Morecambe and Wise Show
(Two of a Kind)
GenreSketch show
StarringEric Morecambe
Ernie Wise
Theme music composerBobby Darin and Johnny Mercer
Ending themeTwo of a Kind
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series6
No. of episodes69 (list of episodes)
Production
Running time30 minutes (Series 1-3)
35 minutes (Series 4-5)
60 minutes (Series 6)
Production company(s)ATV
Release
Original networkITV
Picture format405-line B&W (Series 1-5)
405-line B&W/525-line colour (Series 6)[a]
Original release12 October 1961 (1961-10-12) – 1 October 1968 (1968-10-01)
Chronology
Preceded byRunning Wild
Followed byThe Morecambe & Wise Show

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

History[edit]

In 1954, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise had starred in their first television series, Running Wild on the BBC. This had proven to be a failure, which saw the duo initially return to the variety circuit, before slowly making a return to television, with guest spots on The Winifred Atwell Show and Double Six.[2] Their increasing success eventually led to an offer from Lew Grade, the managing director of ATV, for a second attempt at a television series of their own.[3]

With memories of their previous attempt still in their mind, the duo said that they would accept the offer from Grade if they could obtain the services of the writing team of Dick Hills and Sid Green, as well as producer Colin Clews.[4] Once these were in situ, work could begin in earnest on the new show.

Initially, there were problems in the working relationship between the two duos; the first scripts were, to Morecambe and Wise, too crowded with people for they, as the stars of the piece, to stand out. The reception for the first shows was described by Eric Morecambe as "lukewarm to say the least".[5] In spite of this, more of the same came, until a strike by Equity saw the television schedules decimated. However, Morecambe and Wise were members of the Variety Artistes Federation, and therefore unaffected by the strike.[5] As a consequence, Hills and Green were forced to write sketches that were more along the lines that Morecambe and Wise were looking for. Additionally, the writers were occasionally added to the situations as "Sid and Dick", the new, general-purpose stooges.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[1] 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.[8]

In 1968, Lew Grade began negotiations for a new deal to retain Morecambe and Wise at ATV for another three years. However, at that time, the duo were anxious to take advantage of the technological advancements that were coming through in television, most notably the advent of colour. ATV at the time were not in a position to offer this and so, in spite of the financial package offered, Morecambe and Wise instead accepted an offer to return to the BBC.[6]

List of episodes[edit]

Archive status[edit]

The first series was billed as Sir Bernard Delfont Presents Morecambe & Wise, with the Two of a Kind title not used until the second series. This first series is completely missing, but all episodes broadcast under the Two of a Kind title (Series 2-5) exist. Only two of the episodes recorded in colour for Series 6 (The Piccadilly Palace) are extant, as black & white telerecordings.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominee Category Result Reference
1964 BAFTA TV Awards Eric Morecambe
Ernie Wise
Best Light Entertainment Personality Won [10]
Colin Clews Best Light Entertainment Programme Won

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 is unknown.

Network released a DVD in 2016 of The Complete Series of the Two of a Kind canon containing 48 episodes from the first 4 series. The last series is mostly lost but two of the episodes, that were originally transmitted in colour, exist but in black and white and are featured on the 8th disk of this 8 DVD set which is full of extra appearances of the boys on various variety shows in the 50s and 60s.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Series 6 was recorded using cameras from both ATV and ABC; although both recorded the show in colour, at the time ITV had not begun colour transmissions, and so it was broadcast in black & white.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Piccadilly Palace". morecambeandwise.com. 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  2. ^ "The Morecambe and Wise Story (Part 2)". morecambeandwise.com. 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ McCann, p. 134
  4. ^ McCann, p. 136
  5. ^ a b c McCann, p. 139
  6. ^ a b Marcus, Laurence (January 2005). "Biography: Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise - 2". Television Heaven. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Television: The Morecambe And Wise Show". The Beatles Bible. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  8. ^ McCann, p. 159-161
  9. ^ "Two Of A Kind - Complete Series". morecambeandwise.com. 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  10. ^ "BAFTA Awards Search - Morecambe and Wise". BAFTA Awards. Retrieved 13 March 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • McCann, Graham (1999). Morecambe & Wise. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 9781857029116.
  • Morecambe, Gary; Sterling, Martin (2001). Morecambe & Wise: Behind the Sunshine. London: Robson Books. ISBN 9781861054623.

External links[edit]