Eric & Ernie (2011)

In their heyday Morecambe and Wise bought sunshine into television viewer’s homes like a couple of favourite uncles. Still fondly remembered, what contributed to their popularity was the obvious friendship that existed between the two. It was a friendship borne of performing with each other since they were both just in their teens.

 

At odds with the act’s dynamic during its prime, it was the young Ernie Wise who was the headliner before the two met. Touted as Britain’s Mickey Rooney, he was performing in the West End when Eric Bartholomew won the chance to audition for a part in the same revue. Bunking down together during The Blitz, the two boys bonded as their bickering slowly gave way to banter. Recognising their potential as a duo, Eric’s mother Sadie became a driving force in their early career.

 

As portrayed by Victoria Wood, who initiated this biopic, Sadie’s ambition for Eric and Ernie is not the result of some thwarted dream, but rather a recognition of her son’s own talents and limitations. In this role, Daniel Rigby perfectly captures Morecambe’s mannerisms and cadence. His performance is matched by Bryan Dick who, despite having less to work with, still summons memories of Little Ern.

 

It’s easy to imagine that off-screen, Eric and Ernie were not too far removed from their on-screen personas. Not only does this enable the filmmakers to pepper the film with many of their familiar routines, it also rekindles the affection felt for Morecambe and Wise.

cast, Daniel Rigby, Eric Morecambe, Bryan Dick, Ernie Wise
Daniel Rigby and Bryan Dick
Daniel Rigby and Bryan Dick

as Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise

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Contradicting the scene that depicts Morecambe’s parents coming up with the act’s name, Eric gave this explanation in a 1973 interview with Woman Magazine.

 

"An early problem was my stage name. Nobody liked Bartholomew and Wise. One evening my mother was talking to Adelaide Hall, the coloured American singer on the bill, when her husband, Bert Hicks, came up. 

My mother said: 'We’re trying to think of a name for Eric.' 

Bert was a big American Negro with a deep voice. He said: 'A friend of mine calls himself Rochester because he comes from Rochester, Minnesota. Where do you come from?' 

'Morecambe.' 

'That’s a good name. Call him Morecambe.' 

My mother liked it, and I liked it, and from there on I was Morecambe on the bill."

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No scene recreations from the team’s films as the biopic is set before their short movie career. 

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