Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes. Image shows from L to R: Ernie Wise, Eric Morecambe. Copyright: ITV.

Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes

ITV documentary of lost comedy footage. 1 episode in 2021. Features Joan Morecambe, Gail Morecambe, Gary Morecambe, Jonathan Ross and others.

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Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes. Image shows from L to R: Ernie Wise, Eric Morecambe. Copyright: ITV.

Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes

A documentary featuring newly rediscovered clips of Morecambe & Wise at the BBC

Genre
Documentary
Broadcast
2021
Channel
ITV
Episodes
1
Features
Joan Morecambe, Gail Morecambe, Gary Morecambe, Jonathan Ross, Ben Miller, Eddie Izzard, Derek Griffiths, Rosie Jones and others
Director
Simon Harries
Producer
Simon Harries

Morecambe & Wise are Britain's undisputed kings of comedy, having fronted 175 shows over a 22-year TV career. In their 1970s heyday they regularly pulled in more than 20 million viewers every week, but one of their classic shows hasn't been seen since October 1970 and was believed to have been lost forever.

Then in 2020, Eric Morecambe's family made a remarkable discovery. While looking for paperwork, Eric's son found an old film can in the attic. 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.

Now viewers will have the opportunity to view this delightful slice of classic comedy once again, alongside Eric and Ernie's celebrity fans, former guest stars and family.

This show features the funniest sketches from the newly unearthed programme and includes rare archive film of the duo at work, to remind us why Eric and Ernie are our best-loved comedians.

Remarkably, the lost episode turned out to be their first ever show for BBC1, dating from 8th October 1970. It came at a crucial time in their career when, after four series on BBC2, they were about to break into the big time.

The 45-minute show introduced their new BBC1 audience to a series of gag-packed routines involving stage curtains, ventriloquism and a toy dog that shoots nerve gas out of its bottom. The duo's long-time collaborator Ann Hamilton plays a nurse in a hospital sketch, looking on as Eric eats all of Ernie's grapes and then uses the empty bag to catch an invisible ball. There's even a daring bedroom sketch in which Eric eavesdrops on a newly wedded couple in the next flat while they make love.

The episode was written by their long-time script-wizard Eddie Braben and played to 14 million viewers. Though it was never repeated, the episode helped pave the way for the duo's ascent to comedy legend status, and a series of star-studded hit TV shows which the nation still holds in high esteem.

Celebrity Morecambe and Wise fans taking part in this film include its narrator Toby Jones, plus Jonathan Ross, Ben Miller and Eddie Izzard. Joining the celebrities for this unique screening are Eric's wife Joan Morecambe and children Gail and Gary.

Production Details

Production company

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Wednesday 28th July 2021 on ITV at 9pm
Episode length
1 hour
Last repeat
Sunday 1st August 2021 at 10:20pm