Morecambe 'should ditch Wise'

What BBC thought before they made it big

BBC chiefs wanted Eric Morecambe to ditch Ernie Wise and go solo, according to a memo unearthed in the corporation archives.

Producer John Ammonds believed the double act would never make it - but thought Morecambe would stand a chance if he abandoned Wise, who he described as 'a big weakness'.

Yet just two years after the June 1959 memo, the duo found fame on commercial television - and would go on to be Britain's biggest comedy stars.

The Mail on Sunday reveals that he considered the duo - who were variety and radio stars at the time had become 'stuck in a rut and too reliant on outdated gags’.

Ammonds - who had worked with the pair on radio wrote: ‘After seeing Morecambe and Wise the other week in their show [in] Blackpool, I am not at all sure as to their strength on a TV programme.

‘They are still working to old gags and in my opinion, frequently working the wrong type of mat­erial. They are quite a dis­appointment to me because... I thought they had a great future.

‘I always thought Eric Morecambe was a funny man and still think that he could be very successful on vision but only if he could be detached from Ernie, who I think is a big weakness. I really cannot see them making the grade in a TV series.’

Morecambe and Wise were snapped up by commercial broadcaster ATV in 1961 to make their show, Two Of A Kind, which set them on the road to TV fame.

Published: 1 Dec 2012

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