History Main / MorecambeAndWise

19th Mar '14 5:01:49 PM MarkLungo
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[[quoteright:280:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/600full-the-morecambe--wise-show-photo_4555.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:280:[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZedhoqYdfTM "Bring me sunshine, in your smile, bring me laughter, all the while..."]]]]

->''The play what I wrote''
-->--'''Ernie Wise'''

->''I'm playing all the right notes -- but not necessarily in the right order.''
-->--'''Eric Morecambe'''

A legendary British comic double act, both of whom got [=OBEs=]. Consisted of Eric Morecambe (John Eric Bartholomew, 14 May 1926 28 May 1984), (the dark-haired "funny man") and Ernie Wise (Ernest Wiseman, 27 November 1925 21 March 1999) (the blond-haired "StraightMan"). They met as teenagers and learned their skills as a {{Vaudeville}} double-act during the 1940s and 50s, so by the time they got to be on TV, they were primed for success -- but didn't get it. Their first TV show ''[[StarDerailingRole Running Wild]]'' (1954) suffered from what in hindsight was EarlyInstallmentWeirdness, and an early newspaper gag went "[[TakeThat Definition of TV: the box in which they buried Morecambe & Wise]]". Morecambe, the more anxiety-ridden of the two, carried the cutting in his wallet for the rest of his life, as a sort of portable MotivationalLie.

The duo went back to live performance for seven years, before landing a second TV show on the British commercial network ATV, ''[[StarMakingRole Two of a Kind]]'' (1961-1968). This was better-written and made them famous, including a memorable episode where they rubbed up against Music/TheBeatles, but there was more to come. In 1968 the writers of ''Two of a Kind'', Dick Hills and Sid Green, quit the show and it was widely felt within British TV that Morecambe and Wise were finished. However, a [[TheBBC BBC]] executive hooked them up with a gifted scriptwriter named Eddie Braben who understood them better than any previous writer, and ''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' (1968-1977) was the result.

Full of classic sketches and celebrity guests, and with the central dynamic between the duo brilliantly retooled by Braben, it made them more popular than ever before. A running gag was that Ernie considered himself a talented playwright and would ask the guests to take roles in the latest "play what I wrote". This allowed them to do spoofs of famous plays and films, playing Eric and/or Ernie's LargeHam tendencies for maximum funny. [[ChristmasSpecial Christmas editions]] of the show earned the highest viewing figures in British TV history up to that point: ''20 million'' people are estimated to have watched their 1977 Christmas special, making it in turn an integral part of AVeryBritishChristmas. The story goes that the National Grid had to prepare in advance for almost everyone in Britain [[SpotOfTea putting on the kettle]] at the same time after it finished. The show's success made the duo into national treasures.

''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' had a ChannelHop to commercial TV in 1978, but Braben was left behind, and while the later version of the show contained many classic moments, the duo's final work was in general less brilliant than their 1970s peak.

Morecambe died in 1984, from a fatal heart attack after a public performance. Wise died in 1999. Both of their deaths were front-page news.

YMMV tropes are [[YMMV/MorecambeAndWise here]].

----
!!They contained examples of the following:
* AccidentalMisnaming:
** The "Andrew Preview" sketch, origin of Eric's page quote.
** Penelope Keith also did it to Eric, referring to him as "Derek Moron".
* ActorAllusion: In the Anthony and Cleopatra sketch alone, Eric sat on Glenda Jackson's Oscar ([[spoiler: and then stole them at the end]]) and after Eric enters holding a sign reading "SPQR", it flips and changes to "Luton FC" (which he owned at the time).
** In the 1977 Christmas Special, set on an old Navy ship, they had a cameo from Arthur Lowe and most of the ''Series/DadsArmy'' cast. As Lowe's character leaves (after suffering a mutiny), he looks at Eric and says he'll see him hang.
---> '''John Le Mesurier:''' [[CatchPhrase Do you think that's wise, sir?]]
---> '''Arthur Lowe:''' No, that's Eric Morecambe. (points to Ernie Wise) That's Mr Wise.
---> '''John Le Mesurier:''' Oh. (they both leave)
** When they came back to TV after Morecambe's recovery from his first heart attack, they smiled, said hello to the audience and then Eric pulled open the lapel of his jacket and said to his chest "Keep going, you fool!"
* AffectionateParody: All of their parodies really, but particularly the musical numbers.
* AnachronismStew: Often PlayedForLaughs, such as having modern technology and pop culture references in the sketches set in the past. For example, one sketch has Lady Hamilton ring up Admiral Nelson on the phone during the Battle of Trafalgar.
* AsideGlance: Eric played this straight, as you'd expect from an old-school variety performer, but once the duo were on TV he also devised a way to turn it UpToEleven: while someone else was talking, he would sometimes glance into another camera, turn to face it, and then just beam foolishly at it without saying anything. After a while Ernie would join him, beaming over his shoulder, and if there was anyone else on stage at the time they would eventually join in too, for as long as RuleOfFunny permitted, until they would all go back to the dialogue.
* BananaRepublic: The setting of their early film ''The Magnificent 2''.
* BerserkButton: Don't ever suggest that Eric is playing all the wrong notes.
* ButtMonkey: Des O'Connor in any of his appearances.
** In the Hills & Green era, Eric tended to be the Butt Monkey of the duo but Braben cleverly reinvented the duo's dynamic, removing Ernie's MeanBoss tendency and turning him into a [[TheDitz Ditzy]] LargeHam; Eric, in turn, acquired [[TheJester jester]] and StoicWoobie tendencies, the latter exemplified in the "Singin' in the Rain" sketch (actually not written by Braben) in which Ernie dances happily while Eric gets wetter and wetter. The role of Butt Monkey was given to their guests, who put up with endless humiliation in the [[RuleOfFunny name of funny]].
* CallBack: Creator/PeterCushing worked on one of their shows in 1969 which led to a running joke that he was never paid. All told he appeared on the show about six times, but didn't actually get "paid" until 1980. This is also something of a BrickJoke as when he finally does receive payment, he just shouts, "Paid! At last!" without any reference to having been on the show before.
* TheCastShowoff: Wise's dancing. Morecambe could dance too, but Wise was a professional, to the point that Creator/GeneKelly once said that his version of "Singing in the Rain" was the closest to the original he'd ever seen.
* CatchPhrase: Ernie had "the play what I wrote", Eric had "This boy's a fool!"; "What do you think of it so far? Rubbish!" [with the last word being spoken by an improvised ventriliquist's dummy], and more.
** One of the most famous derived from a sketch. Ernie pointed out that Eric was going bald and suggested he got a wig, telling him, "Some of your best friends have wigs and you'd never know it." Eric immediately assumed Ernie meant himself and tried to pull his hair off. For the next twenty years, Eric would interrupt whatever they were doing to stare at Ern's hair and comment, "You can't see the join!"
** Whenever somebody spoke outside of Eric's vision and he was looking at somebody else he'd say: "You said that without moving your lips!"
* {{Corpsing}}: Many contemporary critics noted how Eric essentially seemed exempt from the usual rules on this--he would regularly laugh at his own jokes and smile when he or Ernie messed up a line. The reason seems to be the 'domestic' dynamic Eddie Braben gave the pair with his flat sketches, letting their real friendship shine through--so the audience accepted Eric laughing at his own jokes the way a witty friend would in a RealLife conversation.
** On the other hand, in the "Grieg Piano Concerto" sketch, while Eric, Ernie and André Previn all play their parts completely seriously, in the background you can see the orchestra's musicians struggling and failing to keep a straight face.
* CreditsGag: A common feature when introducing a parody sketch (such as the Neopolean sketch and ''Anthony and Cleopatra'') was to play with the names, saying Actor A was actually played by a second actor and saying that actor was played by a cat who was played by a completely different actor. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtHNrRk3lQM Example.]]
* CurseCutShort: During [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HgFLJLY-2o "I'm Wishing"]].
-->'''Ernie/Prince:''' "Tell me wishing well."
-->'''Eric/Well:''' "Ask and I will tell."
-->'''Ernie:''' "Will my wish come true?"
-->'''Eric:''' "It's entirely up to you."
-->'''Ernie:''' "With your magic spell."
-->'''Eric:''' "Why don't you go to he-"
-->'''Ernie:''' "Will you tell my love one what to do?"
* DeadpanSnarker: Morecambe was one of these, although as their comedy became more subtle it tended to come out as more of a StealthInsult. He remains one of the few people ever to outsnark JohnLennon, during the Beatles' appearance on ''Two Of A Kind'' in 1963:
-->'''Eric''': What's it like being famous?
-->'''John''': Well, it's not like in your day, you know.
-->'''Eric''': Ha! That was an insult, that is! ''[to Ernie]]'' You didn't expect that, did you? ''[to John]'' What do you mean, "not like in my day?"
-->'''John''': Well, me dad used to tell me about you, you know. ''[John holds his hand down below his waist, to indicate how small he was at the time. Eric looks at it.]''
-->'''Eric''': [[ComicallyMissingThePoint You've only got a little dad, have you?]]
** As time went on, Ernie & Eric's idiot/bigger-idiot relationship became so strong that the role of DeadpanSnarker was actually handed to their guests; in the Grieg Piano Concerto sketch, Andre Previn is very much the OnlySaneMan, complete with DeathGlare as Eric's behaviour drives him higher and higher up the wall.
* DuelingShows: With ''TheTwoRonnies'', although both partnerships were quite friendly with each other.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: There is a very significant shift in tone and format from the Hills and Green-written to the Eddie Braben-written series.
** Initially Eric and Ernie were confused by the presence of the Lady Who Comes Down At The End, only later smiling and nodding as though her interruption is completely expected.
** Arthur Tolcher did an actual segment on the show playing progressively smaller harmonicas before accidentally swallowing the last one, prior to the RunningGag of him randomly appearing and starting to play only to be brushed off with 'Not now, Arthur'.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Eric was always claiming that the "Des" in Des O'Connor was short for "Desperate", "Desert", etc.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: To the point of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFgWonKx3U8 sharing a bed]]. Morecambe was initially dubious about the bed-sharing but agreed to do it on condition that he could [[DistinguishedGentlemansPipe have his pipe]].
* MickeyMousing: The aforementioned Breakfast Sketch, in which Eric and Ernie making breakfast is synched to "The Stripper".
* NewscasterCameo: TropeCodifier. Prior to Morecambe and Wise, newscasters had generally been considered dignified and distant figures in British television. Their number with Angela Rippon started to change this, but it really took off when almost every British newscaster at the time starred with them in "There Ain't Nothing Like A Dame". This started a tradition, which still survives today, of the newscasters indulging in a massive cross-channel crossover musical number, usually for UsefulNotes/ComicRelief.
* NoFourthWall: Obviously, because show was mostly them on stage facing an audience. During the "Singin' in the Rain" sketch, a very wet Eric is being ignored by Ernie so turns to the camera and says, "I'm wet through, folks!"
* ObfuscatingStupidity: There are a number of hints that Eric is in fact the more intelligent member of the partnership but he acts dumb in order not to disappoint Ernie's intellectual pretensions.
-->'''Ernie''': ''[reading from his latest play]''' "Rocky felt a tingle of excitement as his executive jet touched down in Amsterdam. [[CriticalResearchFailure It was his first visit to Italy.]]"
-->'''Eric''': ''[briefly looks away, grimaces, turns back; encouragingly]'' That's knockout, that, Ern.
* OopNorth: They were from there and proud of it.
* ThePerfectionist: Both of them, but Morecambe was notorious for it, especially at the peak of their popularity in the 70s. All those supposed ad-libs, {{aside glance}}s, even the corpsing? All meticulously rehearsed. Morecambe himself was not the only one to think that his obsession with perfection had something to do with his heart trouble.
** Producer John Ammonds was also like this. As Eddie Braben put it, "if you sent him a Christmas card, he'd send it back with a note asking for a rewrite".
* RightBehindMe
* {{Running Gag}}s: Many.
** Repeated {{Take That}}s at Des O'Connor.
** Morecambe pretending to throw an invisible object in the air and "catching" it in a paper bag.
** Celebrities shown working in menial jobs with the line "I worked with Morecambe and Wise, and look what happened to me."
** There were two semi-regular OnceAnEpisode [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment Big Lipped Alligator Moments]]: harmonica player Arthur Tolcher would randomly rush on and start to play, only for Eric or Ernie to kindly brush him off with 'Not now, Arthur'; and at the end of many episodes, the "[[NoNameGiven Lady who comes down at the end]]" (played by Janet Webb) appears to deliver a monologue about ''her'' little show, while Eric and Ernie smile and nod along.
** Ernie's terrible plays.
** Ernie's height ("he's only got little legs"). Eric would often tell Ernie to stand up when he was already standing.
** Eric's {{Cloudcuckoolander}} tendency to [[ViewerGenderConfusion refer to guests as though they were the other gender]]: e.g. addressing the young and rather {{Bifauxnen}} Glenda Jackson as "young sir".
** Eric would often look at one person when a second person behind him said a line and he would say "You said that without moving your lips!" to the first person. He would turn to face the second as the first spoke and say "You can do it as well!"
** [[SelfDeprecation "What do you think of it so far?" "Rubbish!"]]
* SceneryPorn: Parodied, specifically the glitzy sets of 70s variety shows.
** In one sketch, Eric, Ernie and guest star [[ProperLady Penelope Keith]], smiling in immaculate evening wear, elegantly descended a huge flight of stairs as the orchestra played, only to find that it ended with a long drop still to go, so that they had to climb awkwardly down to ground level. This was a ShoutOut to an earlier sketch, in which the three of them had gone to the top of the stairs, only for Keith to [[SlapstickKnowsNoGender fall off the back]].
** ShirleyBassey began a musical number on a revolving stage with rotated her into view, and then out of view again because Eric & Ernie as the stagehands had [[NiceJobBreakingItHero forgotten to stop cranking the revolve]]; they looked up, saw the cameras, and furiously cranked in the opposite direction to bring her back again. Bassey then descended the steps to the studio floor, still singing, only for the heel of her shoe to break the bottom step and get caught in it. Eric & Ernie crawled out to investigate, and fixed the problem by [[TookALevelInDumbass removing Bassey's foot from her shoe and giving her one of Eric's boots]].
* TheScrooge: Ernie's other major characteristic besides being a bad playwright.
** EarlyInstallmentWeirdness / CharacterisationMarchesOn: In one early Hills and Green-penned routine it's Eric who's the mean one (recycling last year's Christmas cards and sending them to people this year) and Ernie who complains about it.
* SmallNameBigEgo: Ernie.
--> '''Ernie:''' I'll be doing ''Singin' in the Rain''.
--> '''Eric:''' Oh, Creator/GeneKelly did that very well...
--> '''Ernie:''' Yes, well, I'll do it that little bit better, won't I?
** Again, when Ernie was welcoming Lulu onto the show in effusive tones:
---> '''Ernie:''' Oh, Lulu, you're one of my biggest fans.
* SpecialGuest: One every episode, several in the Christmas specials--not counting the more numerous music spot guest singers/bands.
** Producer John Ammonds was famous for being able to get ''anyone'' as a guest star, no matter how big a star they were or how 'refined' their usual work was; writer Eddie Braben was half convinced he had a collection of blackmail photographs on the entire membership of Equity. His only failure was when he couldn't get Prince Charles, and even then apparently Charles was willing but the Palace vetoed it as too risky.
** After a while, the show was so big and beloved that the biggest stars were queuing up to do it.
* [[SpiritualSuccessor Spiritual Successors]]: To Creator/LaurelAndHardy, of whom they were fans.
* StraightManAndWiseGuy: They started out playing this straight, with Ernie as a bossy straight man and Eric as a [[TheDitz ditzy]] wise guy, but although it made them famous they didn't [[GrowingTheBeard really hit their stride]] until writer Eddie Braben inverted the trope, making Ernie a [[StylisticSuck pompous would-be all-round entertainer]] and Eric his [[JerkassWithAHeartOfGold affectionately snarky]] but [[TheFool idiotic straight man]]. The result, as critic Kenneth Tynan observed, was that 'Ernie' was a comedian who ''wasn't'' funny, while 'Eric' was a straight man who ''was'' funny.
* {{Stylistic Suck}}: Ernie's plays. Ernie in-universe was absurdly prolific, described as writing dozens of plays every day, which both explains and fails to explain why they were rubbish: he [[TheyJustDidntCare didn't spend enough time on each one]], but on the other hand he [[TaughtByExperience wrote so many that you'd have thought he'd get better at it]].
* SurrealHumour: Not a major focus of their work but glimpses of it often showed up. For example, one episode began with Ernie asking for his violin, being handed a saxophone, nodding thanks and then being about to 'play' it with a violin-bow before being interrupted by Eric.
** This part of their humour was a major influence on [[TheSmellOfReevesAndMortimer Reeves and Mortimer]].
* TakeThat: Most often at Des O'Connor as noted above, but occasionally aimed at other comedians such as Max Bygraves and Jimmy Tarbuck
-->'''Eric''': Why don't you send that joke to Jimmy Tarbuck?
-->'''Ernie''': Do you think he'd use my material?
-->'''Eric''': Why not? He uses everyone else's.
** Earlier in their career they were often compared to rival comedy duo Mike & Bernie Winters. Morecambe & Wise were friendly with them, but it didn't stop Morecambe coming out with a lethal snark at their expense:
--->'''Interviewer''': Who do you think you'd be if you weren't comedians?
--->'''Morecambe''': Mike and Bernie Winters.
* TalkingInBed
* ThatsWhatSheSaid: On hearing anything that could be misconstrued as an UnusualEuphemism, Eric did a lot of this:
-->'''Ernie''': I've extended my repertoire.
-->'''Eric''': It doesn't show from back there.
* ThrowItIn: In spite of what people thought at the time, largely averted. Much of their charm derived from the fact that they seemed to be making it up as they went along, but in fact they rehearsed ''a lot'' and expected their guests to as well.
** A rare exception was in the Piano Concerto sketch: André Previn hadn't had much rehearsal time and Morecambe in particular went into the sketch very nervous. When Previn delivered his line "I'll go get my baton ... it's in Chicago" with perfect comic timing, Morecambe can be seen to punch the air and ad lib the line "''Pow''! He's in! I ''like'' him! I like him!". For the rest of the sketch, Morecambe is visibly more confident.
* UnusualEuphemism: A favourite trope of writer Eddie Braben:
-->'''Ernie''': My auntie's got a Whistler.
-->'''Eric''': There's a novelty.
* {{Ventriloquism}}:
** Eric and the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV3q3f1v8UI giant dummy]] he couldn't operate properly. He also messed around with muppets a fair bit as well. Such as the skull during his {{Hamlet}} soliloquy. Neither times did he really bother to try to not move his lips (which was half of the joke).
--> '''Eric:''' "What do you think of it so far?"
--> '''Skull:''' "Rubbish!".
* VitriolicBestBuds: Only in the show; outside, they were TrueCompanions, and you did ''not'' [[BerserkButton want to try to break them apart]].
** As noted above, although Eric Morecambe aimed a number of barbs at Des O'Connor, in real life they were good friends.
* YoungFutureFamousPeople: In a segment on one Christmas show Eric and Ernie play naive soldiers sent on a suicide mission through German lines in WorldWarOne, during the course of which they run a motorbike and sidecar over a young AdolfHitler and his comrades sitting around a campfire.
* ZanyScheme: Sometimes there was one running through a whole show, usually about how Eric and Ernie would force a supposedly unwilling guest into a role in one of Ernie's plays or a musical number. On one occasion this was inverted, with ArchEnemy Des O'Connor turning up as a guest and Eric and Ernie repeatedly managing to get out of doing a number with him by schemes such as making part of the stairs a lift that lowers itself with him still on it.
----

to:

[[quoteright:280:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/600full-the-morecambe--wise-show-photo_4555.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:280:[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZedhoqYdfTM "Bring me sunshine, in your smile, bring me laughter, all the while..."]]]]

->''The play what I wrote''
-->--'''Ernie Wise'''

->''I'm playing all the right notes -- but not necessarily in the right order.''
-->--'''Eric Morecambe'''

A legendary British comic double act, both of whom got [=OBEs=]. Consisted of Eric Morecambe (John Eric Bartholomew, 14 May 1926 28 May 1984), (the dark-haired "funny man") and Ernie Wise (Ernest Wiseman, 27 November 1925 21 March 1999) (the blond-haired "StraightMan"). They met as teenagers and learned their skills as a {{Vaudeville}} double-act during the 1940s and 50s, so by the time they got to be on TV, they were primed for success -- but didn't get it. Their first TV show ''[[StarDerailingRole Running Wild]]'' (1954) suffered from what in hindsight was EarlyInstallmentWeirdness, and an early newspaper gag went "[[TakeThat Definition of TV: the box in which they buried Morecambe & Wise]]". Morecambe, the more anxiety-ridden of the two, carried the cutting in his wallet for the rest of his life, as a sort of portable MotivationalLie.

The duo went back to live performance for seven years, before landing a second TV show on the British commercial network ATV, ''[[StarMakingRole Two of a Kind]]'' (1961-1968). This was better-written and made them famous, including a memorable episode where they rubbed up against Music/TheBeatles, but there was more to come. In 1968 the writers of ''Two of a Kind'', Dick Hills and Sid Green, quit the show and it was widely felt within British TV that Morecambe and Wise were finished. However, a [[TheBBC BBC]] executive hooked them up with a gifted scriptwriter named Eddie Braben who understood them better than any previous writer, and ''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' (1968-1977) was the result.

Full of classic sketches and celebrity guests, and with the central dynamic between the duo brilliantly retooled by Braben, it made them more popular than ever before. A running gag was that Ernie considered himself a talented playwright and would ask the guests to take roles in the latest "play what I wrote". This allowed them to do spoofs of famous plays and films, playing Eric and/or Ernie's LargeHam tendencies for maximum funny. [[ChristmasSpecial Christmas editions]] of the show earned the highest viewing figures in British TV history up to that point: ''20 million'' people are estimated to have watched their 1977 Christmas special, making it in turn an integral part of AVeryBritishChristmas. The story goes that the National Grid had to prepare in advance for almost everyone in Britain [[SpotOfTea putting on the kettle]] at the same time after it finished. The show's success made the duo into national treasures.

''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' had a ChannelHop to commercial TV in 1978, but Braben was left behind, and while the later version of the show contained many classic moments, the duo's final work was in general less brilliant than their 1970s peak.

Morecambe died in 1984, from a fatal heart attack after a public performance. Wise died in 1999. Both of their deaths were front-page news.

YMMV tropes are [[YMMV/MorecambeAndWise here]].

----
!!They contained examples of the following:
* AccidentalMisnaming:
** The "Andrew Preview" sketch, origin of Eric's page quote.
** Penelope Keith also did it to Eric, referring to him as "Derek Moron".
* ActorAllusion: In the Anthony and Cleopatra sketch alone, Eric sat on Glenda Jackson's Oscar ([[spoiler: and then stole them at the end]]) and after Eric enters holding a sign reading "SPQR", it flips and changes to "Luton FC" (which he owned at the time).
** In the 1977 Christmas Special, set on an old Navy ship, they had a cameo from Arthur Lowe and most of the ''Series/DadsArmy'' cast. As Lowe's character leaves (after suffering a mutiny), he looks at Eric and says he'll see him hang.
---> '''John Le Mesurier:''' [[CatchPhrase Do you think that's wise, sir?]]
---> '''Arthur Lowe:''' No, that's Eric Morecambe. (points to Ernie Wise) That's Mr Wise.
---> '''John Le Mesurier:''' Oh. (they both leave)
** When they came back to TV after Morecambe's recovery from his first heart attack, they smiled, said hello to the audience and then Eric pulled open the lapel of his jacket and said to his chest "Keep going, you fool!"
* AffectionateParody: All of their parodies really, but particularly the musical numbers.
* AnachronismStew: Often PlayedForLaughs, such as having modern technology and pop culture references in the sketches set in the past. For example, one sketch has Lady Hamilton ring up Admiral Nelson on the phone during the Battle of Trafalgar.
* AsideGlance: Eric played this straight, as you'd expect from an old-school variety performer, but once the duo were on TV he also devised a way to turn it UpToEleven: while someone else was talking, he would sometimes glance into another camera, turn to face it, and then just beam foolishly at it without saying anything. After a while Ernie would join him, beaming over his shoulder, and if there was anyone else on stage at the time they would eventually join in too, for as long as RuleOfFunny permitted, until they would all go back to the dialogue.
* BananaRepublic: The setting of their early film ''The Magnificent 2''.
* BerserkButton: Don't ever suggest that Eric is playing all the wrong notes.
* ButtMonkey: Des O'Connor in any of his appearances.
** In the Hills & Green era, Eric tended to be the Butt Monkey of the duo but Braben cleverly reinvented the duo's dynamic, removing Ernie's MeanBoss tendency and turning him into a [[TheDitz Ditzy]] LargeHam; Eric, in turn, acquired [[TheJester jester]] and StoicWoobie tendencies, the latter exemplified in the "Singin' in the Rain" sketch (actually not written by Braben) in which Ernie dances happily while Eric gets wetter and wetter. The role of Butt Monkey was given to their guests, who put up with endless humiliation in the [[RuleOfFunny name of funny]].
* CallBack: Creator/PeterCushing worked on one of their shows in 1969 which led to a running joke that he was never paid. All told he appeared on the show about six times, but didn't actually get "paid" until 1980. This is also something of a BrickJoke as when he finally does receive payment, he just shouts, "Paid! At last!" without any reference to having been on the show before.
* TheCastShowoff: Wise's dancing. Morecambe could dance too, but Wise was a professional, to the point that Creator/GeneKelly once said that his version of "Singing in the Rain" was the closest to the original he'd ever seen.
* CatchPhrase: Ernie had "the play what I wrote", Eric had "This boy's a fool!"; "What do you think of it so far? Rubbish!" [with the last word being spoken by an improvised ventriliquist's dummy], and more.
** One of the most famous derived from a sketch. Ernie pointed out that Eric was going bald and suggested he got a wig, telling him, "Some of your best friends have wigs and you'd never know it." Eric immediately assumed Ernie meant himself and tried to pull his hair off. For the next twenty years, Eric would interrupt whatever they were doing to stare at Ern's hair and comment, "You can't see the join!"
** Whenever somebody spoke outside of Eric's vision and he was looking at somebody else he'd say: "You said that without moving your lips!"
* {{Corpsing}}: Many contemporary critics noted how Eric essentially seemed exempt from the usual rules on this--he would regularly laugh at his own jokes and smile when he or Ernie messed up a line. The reason seems to be the 'domestic' dynamic Eddie Braben gave the pair with his flat sketches, letting their real friendship shine through--so the audience accepted Eric laughing at his own jokes the way a witty friend would in a RealLife conversation.
** On the other hand, in the "Grieg Piano Concerto" sketch, while Eric, Ernie and André Previn all play their parts completely seriously, in the background you can see the orchestra's musicians struggling and failing to keep a straight face.
* CreditsGag: A common feature when introducing a parody sketch (such as the Neopolean sketch and ''Anthony and Cleopatra'') was to play with the names, saying Actor A was actually played by a second actor and saying that actor was played by a cat who was played by a completely different actor. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtHNrRk3lQM Example.]]
* CurseCutShort: During [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HgFLJLY-2o "I'm Wishing"]].
-->'''Ernie/Prince:''' "Tell me wishing well."
-->'''Eric/Well:''' "Ask and I will tell."
-->'''Ernie:''' "Will my wish come true?"
-->'''Eric:''' "It's entirely up to you."
-->'''Ernie:''' "With your magic spell."
-->'''Eric:''' "Why don't you go to he-"
-->'''Ernie:''' "Will you tell my love one what to do?"
* DeadpanSnarker: Morecambe was one of these, although as their comedy became more subtle it tended to come out as more of a StealthInsult. He remains one of the few people ever to outsnark JohnLennon, during the Beatles' appearance on ''Two Of A Kind'' in 1963:
-->'''Eric''': What's it like being famous?
-->'''John''': Well, it's not like in your day, you know.
-->'''Eric''': Ha! That was an insult, that is! ''[to Ernie]]'' You didn't expect that, did you? ''[to John]'' What do you mean, "not like in my day?"
-->'''John''': Well, me dad used to tell me about you, you know. ''[John holds his hand down below his waist, to indicate how small he was at the time. Eric looks at it.]''
-->'''Eric''': [[ComicallyMissingThePoint You've only got a little dad, have you?]]
** As time went on, Ernie & Eric's idiot/bigger-idiot relationship became so strong that the role of DeadpanSnarker was actually handed to their guests; in the Grieg Piano Concerto sketch, Andre Previn is very much the OnlySaneMan, complete with DeathGlare as Eric's behaviour drives him higher and higher up the wall.
* DuelingShows: With ''TheTwoRonnies'', although both partnerships were quite friendly with each other.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: There is a very significant shift in tone and format from the Hills and Green-written to the Eddie Braben-written series.
** Initially Eric and Ernie were confused by the presence of the Lady Who Comes Down At The End, only later smiling and nodding as though her interruption is completely expected.
** Arthur Tolcher did an actual segment on the show playing progressively smaller harmonicas before accidentally swallowing the last one, prior to the RunningGag of him randomly appearing and starting to play only to be brushed off with 'Not now, Arthur'.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Eric was always claiming that the "Des" in Des O'Connor was short for "Desperate", "Desert", etc.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: To the point of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFgWonKx3U8 sharing a bed]]. Morecambe was initially dubious about the bed-sharing but agreed to do it on condition that he could [[DistinguishedGentlemansPipe have his pipe]].
* MickeyMousing: The aforementioned Breakfast Sketch, in which Eric and Ernie making breakfast is synched to "The Stripper".
* NewscasterCameo: TropeCodifier. Prior to Morecambe and Wise, newscasters had generally been considered dignified and distant figures in British television. Their number with Angela Rippon started to change this, but it really took off when almost every British newscaster at the time starred with them in "There Ain't Nothing Like A Dame". This started a tradition, which still survives today, of the newscasters indulging in a massive cross-channel crossover musical number, usually for UsefulNotes/ComicRelief.
* NoFourthWall: Obviously, because show was mostly them on stage facing an audience. During the "Singin' in the Rain" sketch, a very wet Eric is being ignored by Ernie so turns to the camera and says, "I'm wet through, folks!"
* ObfuscatingStupidity: There are a number of hints that Eric is in fact the more intelligent member of the partnership but he acts dumb in order not to disappoint Ernie's intellectual pretensions.
-->'''Ernie''': ''[reading from his latest play]''' "Rocky felt a tingle of excitement as his executive jet touched down in Amsterdam. [[CriticalResearchFailure It was his first visit to Italy.]]"
-->'''Eric''': ''[briefly looks away, grimaces, turns back; encouragingly]'' That's knockout, that, Ern.
* OopNorth: They were from there and proud of it.
* ThePerfectionist: Both of them, but Morecambe was notorious for it, especially at the peak of their popularity in the 70s. All those supposed ad-libs, {{aside glance}}s, even the corpsing? All meticulously rehearsed. Morecambe himself was not the only one to think that his obsession with perfection had something to do with his heart trouble.
** Producer John Ammonds was also like this. As Eddie Braben put it, "if you sent him a Christmas card, he'd send it back with a note asking for a rewrite".
* RightBehindMe
* {{Running Gag}}s: Many.
** Repeated {{Take That}}s at Des O'Connor.
** Morecambe pretending to throw an invisible object in the air and "catching" it in a paper bag.
** Celebrities shown working in menial jobs with the line "I worked with Morecambe and Wise, and look what happened to me."
** There were two semi-regular OnceAnEpisode [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment Big Lipped Alligator Moments]]: harmonica player Arthur Tolcher would randomly rush on and start to play, only for Eric or Ernie to kindly brush him off with 'Not now, Arthur'; and at the end of many episodes, the "[[NoNameGiven Lady who comes down at the end]]" (played by Janet Webb) appears to deliver a monologue about ''her'' little show, while Eric and Ernie smile and nod along.
** Ernie's terrible plays.
** Ernie's height ("he's only got little legs"). Eric would often tell Ernie to stand up when he was already standing.
** Eric's {{Cloudcuckoolander}} tendency to [[ViewerGenderConfusion refer to guests as though they were the other gender]]: e.g. addressing the young and rather {{Bifauxnen}} Glenda Jackson as "young sir".
** Eric would often look at one person when a second person behind him said a line and he would say "You said that without moving your lips!" to the first person. He would turn to face the second as the first spoke and say "You can do it as well!"
** [[SelfDeprecation "What do you think of it so far?" "Rubbish!"]]
* SceneryPorn: Parodied, specifically the glitzy sets of 70s variety shows.
** In one sketch, Eric, Ernie and guest star [[ProperLady Penelope Keith]], smiling in immaculate evening wear, elegantly descended a huge flight of stairs as the orchestra played, only to find that it ended with a long drop still to go, so that they had to climb awkwardly down to ground level. This was a ShoutOut to an earlier sketch, in which the three of them had gone to the top of the stairs, only for Keith to [[SlapstickKnowsNoGender fall off the back]].
** ShirleyBassey began a musical number on a revolving stage with rotated her into view, and then out of view again because Eric & Ernie as the stagehands had [[NiceJobBreakingItHero forgotten to stop cranking the revolve]]; they looked up, saw the cameras, and furiously cranked in the opposite direction to bring her back again. Bassey then descended the steps to the studio floor, still singing, only for the heel of her shoe to break the bottom step and get caught in it. Eric & Ernie crawled out to investigate, and fixed the problem by [[TookALevelInDumbass removing Bassey's foot from her shoe and giving her one of Eric's boots]].
* TheScrooge: Ernie's other major characteristic besides being a bad playwright.
** EarlyInstallmentWeirdness / CharacterisationMarchesOn: In one early Hills and Green-penned routine it's Eric who's the mean one (recycling last year's Christmas cards and sending them to people this year) and Ernie who complains about it.
* SmallNameBigEgo: Ernie.
--> '''Ernie:''' I'll be doing ''Singin' in the Rain''.
--> '''Eric:''' Oh, Creator/GeneKelly did that very well...
--> '''Ernie:''' Yes, well, I'll do it that little bit better, won't I?
** Again, when Ernie was welcoming Lulu onto the show in effusive tones:
---> '''Ernie:''' Oh, Lulu, you're one of my biggest fans.
* SpecialGuest: One every episode, several in the Christmas specials--not counting the more numerous music spot guest singers/bands.
** Producer John Ammonds was famous for being able to get ''anyone'' as a guest star, no matter how big a star they were or how 'refined' their usual work was; writer Eddie Braben was half convinced he had a collection of blackmail photographs on the entire membership of Equity. His only failure was when he couldn't get Prince Charles, and even then apparently Charles was willing but the Palace vetoed it as too risky.
** After a while, the show was so big and beloved that the biggest stars were queuing up to do it.
* [[SpiritualSuccessor Spiritual Successors]]: To Creator/LaurelAndHardy, of whom they were fans.
* StraightManAndWiseGuy: They started out playing this straight, with Ernie as a bossy straight man and Eric as a [[TheDitz ditzy]] wise guy, but although it made them famous they didn't [[GrowingTheBeard really hit their stride]] until writer Eddie Braben inverted the trope, making Ernie a [[StylisticSuck pompous would-be all-round entertainer]] and Eric his [[JerkassWithAHeartOfGold affectionately snarky]] but [[TheFool idiotic straight man]]. The result, as critic Kenneth Tynan observed, was that 'Ernie' was a comedian who ''wasn't'' funny, while 'Eric' was a straight man who ''was'' funny.
* {{Stylistic Suck}}: Ernie's plays. Ernie in-universe was absurdly prolific, described as writing dozens of plays every day, which both explains and fails to explain why they were rubbish: he [[TheyJustDidntCare didn't spend enough time on each one]], but on the other hand he [[TaughtByExperience wrote so many that you'd have thought he'd get better at it]].
* SurrealHumour: Not a major focus of their work but glimpses of it often showed up. For example, one episode began with Ernie asking for his violin, being handed a saxophone, nodding thanks and then being about to 'play' it with a violin-bow before being interrupted by Eric.
** This part of their humour was a major influence on [[TheSmellOfReevesAndMortimer Reeves and Mortimer]].
* TakeThat: Most often at Des O'Connor as noted above, but occasionally aimed at other comedians such as Max Bygraves and Jimmy Tarbuck
-->'''Eric''': Why don't you send that joke to Jimmy Tarbuck?
-->'''Ernie''': Do you think he'd use my material?
-->'''Eric''': Why not? He uses everyone else's.
** Earlier in their career they were often compared to rival comedy duo Mike & Bernie Winters. Morecambe & Wise were friendly with them, but it didn't stop Morecambe coming out with a lethal snark at their expense:
--->'''Interviewer''': Who do you think you'd be if you weren't comedians?
--->'''Morecambe''': Mike and Bernie Winters.
* TalkingInBed
* ThatsWhatSheSaid: On hearing anything that could be misconstrued as an UnusualEuphemism, Eric did a lot of this:
-->'''Ernie''': I've extended my repertoire.
-->'''Eric''': It doesn't show from back there.
* ThrowItIn: In spite of what people thought at the time, largely averted. Much of their charm derived from the fact that they seemed to be making it up as they went along, but in fact they rehearsed ''a lot'' and expected their guests to as well.
** A rare exception was in the Piano Concerto sketch: André Previn hadn't had much rehearsal time and Morecambe in particular went into the sketch very nervous. When Previn delivered his line "I'll go get my baton ... it's in Chicago" with perfect comic timing, Morecambe can be seen to punch the air and ad lib the line "''Pow''! He's in! I ''like'' him! I like him!". For the rest of the sketch, Morecambe is visibly more confident.
* UnusualEuphemism: A favourite trope of writer Eddie Braben:
-->'''Ernie''': My auntie's got a Whistler.
-->'''Eric''': There's a novelty.
* {{Ventriloquism}}:
** Eric and the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV3q3f1v8UI giant dummy]] he couldn't operate properly. He also messed around with muppets a fair bit as well. Such as the skull during his {{Hamlet}} soliloquy. Neither times did he really bother to try to not move his lips (which was half of the joke).
--> '''Eric:''' "What do you think of it so far?"
--> '''Skull:''' "Rubbish!".
* VitriolicBestBuds: Only in the show; outside, they were TrueCompanions, and you did ''not'' [[BerserkButton want to try to break them apart]].
** As noted above, although Eric Morecambe aimed a number of barbs at Des O'Connor, in real life they were good friends.
* YoungFutureFamousPeople: In a segment on one Christmas show Eric and Ernie play naive soldiers sent on a suicide mission through German lines in WorldWarOne, during the course of which they run a motorbike and sidecar over a young AdolfHitler and his comrades sitting around a campfire.
* ZanyScheme: Sometimes there was one running through a whole show, usually about how Eric and Ernie would force a supposedly unwilling guest into a role in one of Ernie's plays or a musical number. On one occasion this was inverted, with ArchEnemy Des O'Connor turning up as a guest and Eric and Ernie repeatedly managing to get out of doing a number with him by schemes such as making part of the stairs a lift that lowers itself with him still on it.
----
[[redirect:Creator/MorecambeAndWise]]
26th Jan '14 10:32:02 AM nombretomado
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* TheCastShowoff: Wise's dancing. Morecambe could dance too, but Wise was a professional, to the point that GeneKelly once said that his version of "Singing in the Rain" was the closest to the original he'd ever seen.

to:

* TheCastShowoff: Wise's dancing. Morecambe could dance too, but Wise was a professional, to the point that GeneKelly Creator/GeneKelly once said that his version of "Singing in the Rain" was the closest to the original he'd ever seen.



--> '''Eric:''' Oh, GeneKelly did that very well...

to:

--> '''Eric:''' Oh, GeneKelly Creator/GeneKelly did that very well...
6th Jan '14 2:40:41 PM rthomas2
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---> '''Arthur Lowe:''' No, that's Eric Morecambe. (points to Eric Wise) That's Mr Wise.

to:

---> '''Arthur Lowe:''' No, that's Eric Morecambe. (points to Eric Ernie Wise) That's Mr Wise.
28th Oct '13 8:25:39 AM AckSed
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* ThePerfectionist: They were both this but Morecambe was notorious for it, especially at the peak of their popularity in the 70s. All those supposed ad libs, aside glances, even the corpsing? All meticulously rehearsed. Morecambe himself was not the only one to think that his obsession with perfection had something to do with his heart trouble.

to:

* ThePerfectionist: They were both this Both of them, but Morecambe was notorious for it, especially at the peak of their popularity in the 70s. All those supposed ad libs, aside glances, ad-libs, {{aside glance}}s, even the corpsing? All meticulously rehearsed. Morecambe himself was not the only one to think that his obsession with perfection had something to do with his heart trouble.


Added DiffLines:

*RightBehindMe
13th Sep '13 2:27:18 AM SeptimusHeap
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* AccidentalMisnaming:
** The "Andrew Preview" sketch, origin of Eric's page quote.
** Penelope Keith also did it to Eric, referring to him as "Derek Moron".



* MyNameIsNotDurwood: The "Andrew Preview" sketch, origin of Eric's page quote.
** Penelope Keith also did it to Eric, referring to him as "Derek Moron".
18th Jun '13 5:33:20 AM Thande
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Added DiffLines:

* ZanyScheme: Sometimes there was one running through a whole show, usually about how Eric and Ernie would force a supposedly unwilling guest into a role in one of Ernie's plays or a musical number. On one occasion this was inverted, with ArchEnemy Des O'Connor turning up as a guest and Eric and Ernie repeatedly managing to get out of doing a number with him by schemes such as making part of the stairs a lift that lowers itself with him still on it.
12th May '13 3:16:09 PM Vasha
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The duo went back to live performance for seven years, before landing a second TV show on the British commercial network ATV, ''[[StarMakingRole Two Of A Kind]]'' (1961-1968). This was better-written and made them famous, including a memorable episode where they rubbed up against Music/TheBeatles, but there was more to come. In 1968 the writers of ''Two of a Kind'', Dick Hills and Sid Green, quit the show and it was widely felt within British TV that Morecambe and Wise were finished. However, a [[TheBBC BBC]] executive hooked them up with a gifted scriptwriter named Eddie Braben who understood them better than any previous writer, and ''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' (1968-1977) was the result.

to:

The duo went back to live performance for seven years, before landing a second TV show on the British commercial network ATV, ''[[StarMakingRole Two Of A of a Kind]]'' (1961-1968). This was better-written and made them famous, including a memorable episode where they rubbed up against Music/TheBeatles, but there was more to come. In 1968 the writers of ''Two of a Kind'', Dick Hills and Sid Green, quit the show and it was widely felt within British TV that Morecambe and Wise were finished. However, a [[TheBBC BBC]] executive hooked them up with a gifted scriptwriter named Eddie Braben who understood them better than any previous writer, and ''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' (1968-1977) was the result.
12th May '13 3:15:52 PM Vasha
Is there an issue? Send a Message


The duo went back to live performance for seven years, before landing a second TV show on the British commercial network ATV, ''[[StarMakingRole Two Of A Kind]]'' (1961-1968). This was better-written and made them famous, including a memorable episode where they rubbed up against Music/TheBeatles, but there was more to come. In 1968 the writers of ''Two Of A Kind'', Dick Hills and Sid Green, quit the show and it was widely felt within British TV that Morecambe and Wise were finished. However, a [[TheBBC BBC]] executive hooked them up with a gifted scriptwriter named Eddie Braben who understood them better than any previous writer, and ''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' (1968-1977) was the result.

to:

The duo went back to live performance for seven years, before landing a second TV show on the British commercial network ATV, ''[[StarMakingRole Two Of A Kind]]'' (1961-1968). This was better-written and made them famous, including a memorable episode where they rubbed up against Music/TheBeatles, but there was more to come. In 1968 the writers of ''Two Of A of a Kind'', Dick Hills and Sid Green, quit the show and it was widely felt within British TV that Morecambe and Wise were finished. However, a [[TheBBC BBC]] executive hooked them up with a gifted scriptwriter named Eddie Braben who understood them better than any previous writer, and ''The Morecambe & Wise Show'' (1968-1977) was the result.
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.MorecambeAndWise