Morecambe and Wise tribute plan revealed

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.
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A bronze piece of wall art paying tribute to both Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise could go on permanent display in Morecambe.

The wall art is one of a series of ideas to mark the return of the Eric Morecambe statue, which is currently being repaired after being damaged by a man wielding a hacksaw.

Other plans in the pipeline include an Eric Morecambe theme day on July 26 2015, the anniversary of the Queen unveiling the statue.

A glittering showbiz bash with celebrity guests could also be held in Morecambe next year.

Graham Ibbeson, sculptor of the Eric Morecambe statue, and his business partner Jim Cadman outlined the plans at a public meeting at the Midland hotel on Wednesday.

Mr Ibbeson has already started work on a design for the ‘Morecambe and Wise’ wall art.

He said it could be located on the Promenade opposite the Winter Gardens.

The design shows the much-loved TV comedy double act with their arms around each other.

A fund raising campaign will be held to pay for the bronze piece.

“We believe it’s time we said thank you to Eric for all that he’s done for Morecambe,” said Mr Cadman.

“We would like to plan a series of tributes in areas where Eric was loved, including Morecambe.”

Mr Cadman and Mr Ibbeson said there are no plans for an Ernie Wise statue in Morecambe, but the wall art could act as a signpost to the Eric monument.

Mr Ibbeson said: “Ernie needs to be acknowledged for Eric’s sake, because they were a double act. Eric loved the guy. This could be another tourist attraction.”

Morecambe and Wise are widely regarded as Britain’s most popular comedy double act of all time.

Eric, born John Eric Bartholomew in Morecambe, died suddenly of a heart attack, aged 58, in 1984.

Ernie, real name Ernest Wiseman, died in 1999, aged 73. There is a statue of ‘little Ern’ in his home town of Morley in West Yorkshire, created by artist Melanie Wilks.

At the meeting, representatives of the Globe Arena and the Winter Gardens both showed interest in hosting a showbiz dinner celebrating Eric Morecambe’s life in 2015.

Evelyn Archer, chairman of the Friends of the Winter Gardens Trust, also revealed the Morecambe and Wise Convention has booked the theatre in 2015.

A football match between Morecambe FC and Eric’s beloved Luton Town for the ‘Eric Morecambe Trophy’ was another idea suggested, by councillor Darren Clifford.

The Bay radio hosted the meeting. Panellists were Mr Ibbeson, Mr Cadman, and Mark Davies and Councillor Ron Sands from Lancaster City Council, who answered questions from the audience.

Mr Davies, the council’s chief officer for the environment, said the repair of the Eric Morecambe statue was “a top priority”.

He said the sculpture was fully insured but if there was a shortfall Lancaster City Council “have the funds”.

The audience at the public meeting included Greg Lambert from The Visitor, Amina Lone, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale, local councillors, Mike Fountain, Eric Morecambe’s friend and chauffeur, representatives of Morecambe Carnival, Morecambe Town Team and Go Morecambe, Rod Taylor from Morecambe FC, Eric Morecambe impersonator Paul Frith, and Carnforth comedian and music agent Lester Crabtree.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe, sent his apologies and support for the statue and the meeting from Parliament.

Meanwhile the standing foot of the Eric statue has been removed from Morecambe Promenade.

It has now been taken with the main body of the sculpture to a London foundry to be re-cast.

Mr Ibbeson and Lancaster City Council hope the Eric Morecambe statue will be back in its rightful home by Christmas.

The sculpture had to be taken down after a man sawed at Eric’s standing leg in the dead of night.

He was arrested but released without charge and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.