Book Club: Comedy gold from Morecambe and Wise’s silent partner

editorial image
Share this article

Morecambe and Wise charmed a nation for decades and at their height commanded TV audiences that could only be matched by the moon landings and the 1966 World Cup final.

Often called the third member of Morecambe and Wise, the late Eddie Braben was the quiet genius behind their best-loved jokes.

Here, collected together for the first time in Eddie Braben’s ‘Morecambe & Wise Book’ is a celebration of the finest repartee Braben ever penned for them.

There’s the banter between Eric and Little Ern, lines from those horrendous plays that Ernie wrote, and the unforgettable celebrity encounters with such names as Glenda Jackson, Andre Previn and of course Des O’Connor.

Published this month, the book – if you can bear to think of Christmas already – is the perfect stocking filler for Eric and Ernie fans young and old.

Morecambe-born Eric and Ernie began their award-winning double-act in 1941 after meeting in Jack Hylton’s revue, ‘Youth Takes a Bow’, at the Nottingham Empire Theatre.

They temporarily separated during the war but reformed after and went on to star in a series of hit shows that spanned over 20 years.

These included the ratings smash, The Morecambe and Wise Show.

They became one of Britain’s best-loved comedy duos and their partnership lasted until Eric Morecambe’s death in 1984. Eddie Braben was born in Liverpool and started writing jokes in his spare moments while working on a fruit and veg stall.

He went on to write material for some of the biggest comedians of his day including Ronnie Corbett, Ken Dodd and of course Morecambe and Wise.

Braben’s biggest success came when the BBC lured Morecambe and Wise from ITV. Bill Cotton, then in charge of Light Entertainment at the BBC, was looking for a writer following the duo’s split from Dick Hills and Sid Green.

The first Braben-penned Morecambe and Wise Show was broadcast in July 1969 and he wrote most of their BBC shows after that including many of the Christmas specials.

In 1980 he joined Thames Television to continue writing for the duo following their move back to ITV two years previously.

Braben, along with Morecambe and Wise, won the Society of Film Television Artists 1973 award for Outstanding Contribution to Television.

He also won the Best British Light Entertainment Script award from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1973. He died on May 21 this year, aged 82.

His ‘Morecambe &Wise Book’ is published by Ebury Press on September 26, priced £12.99, hardback.