Eric, Ernie and Me (2017)
Morecambe and Wise were a hit variety double act who, after a disastrous start, translated their stage success onto the small screen with ATV’s ‘Two of a Kind’. The show teamed the comedy duo with writers Dick Hills and Sid Green, who also wrote the screenplays for team’s three 1960’s films The Intelligence Men, That Riviera Touch and The Magnificent Two. When Morecambe suffered a heart attack shortly after their move to the BBC, Hills and Green returned to ATV, leaving the duo in need of another comedy writer, the ME in this film's title, Eddie Braben.
It's at this juncture that the biopic begins, though the comedians and writer don’t quite gel at first. After spending some time together away from the studios, Braben recognizes a dynamic between the two that has been missing from their act. Keen to exploit the duo’s obvious friendship, Braben determines to move them away from the traditional straight man and comic, transforming Morecambe and Wise into Eric and Ernie. It’s a masterstroke, resulting in the comedy team signing Braben up as their sole writer. However the pressure of supplying all the material for a hit television show, coupled with the demands of delivering the annual Christmas Special, pushes Braben to the edge.
Based on Braben’s autobiography ‘The Book Wot I Wrote’, Eric, Ernie and Me's primary focus is on the strain he feels when faced with a blank page. Juggling family life, Morecambe and Wise’s perfectionism and audience expectations, Braben’s struggle is aptly conveyed by the writer staring at a television set etched on his study wall. As ideas tumble upon one another, he pictures the comedy duo acting out his thoughts, waiting for divine inspiration to finally appear.
Though they share the biopic’s title with Braben, Morecambe and Wise are basically supporting characters here. In these roles, Mark Bonnar and Neil Maskell provide a passable impression but fail to rekindle fond memories of the team in the way that Daniel Rigby and Bryan Dick did so eloquently in Eric and Ernie.
as Eric Morecambe
as Ernie Wise
as Eddie Braben
as Glenda Jackson
"The one very important thing to remember when trying to separate fact from fiction, is that Eric and Ernie only saw Eddie on rare occasions. Eddie certainly didn`t come marching in with bundles of scripts under his arm as in the biopic! He posted them! He preferred to stay in Liverpool and, later, his home in Wales. Also, any changes made to those scripts - and Eddie himself said 'They took a good script and made it brilliant...' - was M&W doing what their screen credit endorsed; supplying additional material. It wasn`t a case of their producer ringing up and apologising for suggested changes and/or additions. Eric, Ernie and Eddie were a team! All of this was teamwork."
Gary Morecambe (Eric’s son)