TV Review: Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes, ITV1

TV Review: Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes, ITV1

It's amazing what you can find in the attic. Though it probably helps if your surname is Morecambe. In 2020, Eric Morecambe’s family made a remarkable discovery. While looking for paperwork, Eric's son found an old film can. Its contents were a mystery because the label had been torn off. When the film was checked by experts, they were amazed by what flickered into view: an episode unseen for 50 years...

And now it was being shown for the first tme since it was broadcast. Which was a bit of a curiosity itself as the show was the first Morecambe & Wise show to be broadcast on the BBC and was no going out on ITV. We didn't get to hear how ITV was allowed to show it, what deal if any, had to be done, but what we did see was the roots of what made M&W so legendary.

i thought for a moment ITV was simply going to air the episode, but instead we got a kind of Celebrity Gogglebox variant, with clips being shown and famous faces from comedy and beyond discussing them. Some of the comments were insightful but most were of the nature of "ha ha ha" or "his baggy trousers are hilarious" or "Ooh, you probably can't say that now".

Among those taking part were Jonathan Ross, Eddie Izzard, Ben Miller, Rosie Jones and Wayne Sleep and Bonnie Langford. Sleep and Langford had actually worked with Eric and Ernie but you didn't get to hear any anecdotes about that,  but everyone obviously sang the duo's praises.

The neatly put-together programme tied in the newly unearthed clippage with more famous footage to illustrate how various routines had their origins. Some of the story was familiar - their child star variety origins, their collaboration with writer Eddie Braben, but I guess it's all part of the story and couldn't be left out.

Obviously we got Andre Preview and Glenda Jackson clips as we learnt how the duo had had their first TV break in the 1950s which had been a flop, then they becamse ITV stars in the 1960s before moving to the BBC and going stellar soon after this first show. It was intriguing to hear that this was their BBC One debut - this most mainstream of mainstream acts had previously been on BBC Two.

It was a shame the dusted off show was in black and white but, hey, you can't have everything. The format wasn't fully formed – it still followed a variety show template with guests doing turns rather than appearing in sketches. But there was no doubting the genius of Eric and Ernie when they were in full flow.

ITV has had a good run with these archive shows, recently profiling Les Dawson and Ronnie Corbett. I wonder if they will be doing Vic And Bob, The Lost YouTube Clips in another fifty years,

Watch Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes, ITV1 on ITV Hub.

Picture: ITV

 

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