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on 17 March 2006
I grew up with Eric and Ern; the tall one with the specs and the little one with 'short, hairy legs'. Drawing on years of interviews with 'the boys' as well as scriptwriter Eddie Braben, producers John Ammonds and Ernest Maxin, head of light entertainment Bill Cotton and many others, this book is an Aladdin's cave of information and manages to be wonderfully entertaining in the process.
From their humble origins as club comics in the pre and post-war years, McCann takes the reader through the '50's - and their disastrous television debut 'Running Wild' - to the '60's - when they struck gold at A.T.V. - beyond into the '70s - their golden years at the B.B.C. - and the '80's when they committed professional suicide by moving to Thames. 'Night-Train To Murder' was an unqualified disaster.
Eric's death in 1984 ( Ernie passed away in 1999 ) ended a memorable chapter in British comedy. No-one will ever take their place. They were the best.
Their unsuccessful attempts at cracking America and the movies they made for Rank are analysed but the highlight of this book for me was the chapter devoted to their legendary Christmas shows. The 1977 one alone was viewed by a staggering 28 million viewers! I'm glad I was one of them.
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on 21 January 2002
I didn't know too much about this great British double act,but a friend introduced me to them via video a few years ago during a stay in London and I became hooked.This book really hits the spot.The research is really awesome.It tells a fascinating story,and tells it very well.Now I appreciate so much more of the comedy.
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on 13 February 2008
I never did this before, but I wanted to let people know about this book and my love for Morecambe and Wise. Being probably the only dutch fan in The Netherlands, I have become to rely on the internet on information about this famous double-act. So after I bought every tape/DVD I could get my hands on (including all volumes of Two A Kind-serie), my hunger was not stilled, that's why I bought my very first book here at Amazon.Co.UK. It was a very revealing-experience for me. I must admit that some of the words I did not know, but reading around them I learned a lot about those two I love so much. I know I don't have the emotional attachment you people have with Morecambe & Wise seeing them "live" on TV, when you grew up, but they found their place in my life and now and again I need a shot of Morecambe and Wise and play of their tapes. Fortunately for me, they are re-releasing all of the complete original series in the right running order on DVD and I intend to buy the all and play the often. On the first DVD set I watched I only saw 2 minutes of material I recognised, everything else was completely new for me.
Having read this book I understand them so much better. Where they came from, what their impact has been (or maybe still is) on people living the UK, how difficult their early years have been, the little did-you-know-facts about routines I know so well, why they worked together so well, how much the relied on their writers and what made them so incredibly funny.
My advise? Buy this book, when you think you know them already from your childhood and want to learn more about them. Buy this book when you know nothing about them, because you were simply born in the "wrong country". Or buy beacause this book is almost mandatory reading material, when you love good timeless comedy.
The book is tells their stories from their birth, untill the second half of double-act has passed away. It sometimes makes small detoures, but makes them understandably and they always enriches the general flow of the story instead of confusing things. And because Morecambe And Wise were so funny, this book is also at times very funny. I found meself laughing out loud on several places, because it would recall routines I know by heart. (like the Andre Preview-sketch).
Thanks to this book I know my heroes so much better and appriciate them so much more. Thanks!

Spanjeganger
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on 26 April 2010
Growing up in the 1970s and watching Monty Python, Morecambe & Wise were like the comedy act you hated to love. Yet they were nevertheless very likeable and their shows have actually aged better than much of Monty Python.

With his usual exhaustive detail and indexing, Graham McCann has done the best job yet of chronicling their topsy-turvey career. He can't any more than anyone else distill in print what made Eric Morecambe funny (he just was) but at least he does Ernie Wise the long overdue service of showing what a brilliant foil he was, as well as being a talented performer in his own right. The way he was treated as an embarrassing remnant after Morecambe died was quite staggeringly cruel.

Any failings? Perhaps McCann is too kind at times. Morecambe, a twitchy perfectionist who lived off cigarettes and nervous energy and beat the odds in living to 58, must have been a nightmare to work with at times. And did they really stand so far ahead of all their peers? Maybe so, but this isn't the place to confirm it, because the book has nothing positive to say about them. Admittedly Mike and Bernie Winters were the main rivals at first...!

What is most interesting to note, perhaps, is how, as McCann puts it, they became stars in the '60s while quite obviously not being of the '60s. As middle-aged, happily married, small 'c' - but possibly also large 'C' -conservative figures who did not write their own material, they were right against the ethos of the age yet somehow were accommodated in it. For talent and persistence, they deserved it and this book shows how and why.
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on 20 December 2010
This is a deeply impressive book about Britain's most popular double act. The depth of detail is remarkable, as is the wit and warmth of the discussion. As a model for how to write intelligently about a television show and/or a comedy act, this has to be the first book to consult. Wonderful.
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on 4 November 2015
The best British double act are given excellent treatment in this well researched and interesting book. I have read a couple of the authors other books and found them of the same quality ,but as a major fan I couldn't put this down and have read a couple of chapters again! .would highly recommend this to any M and W fan .
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on 19 March 2001
Morecambe and Wise have been very well served by this excellently-researched book. It is rare for comedians to be given an academic approach (e.g. a large section of endnotes), but the writing is far from dry even though - a most refreshing change - sources for all important information are given.
What comes through above all is that Morecambe and Wise, a brilliant partnership, were unbelievably conscientious in preparing their performances. Their genius and hard work (quite apart from their singing and dancing skills) made them the best-loved comic team in British history.
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on 8 December 2001
This is an enjoyable enough book if you are willing to go along with the idea that comedy can be intellectualized, as opposed to simply enjoyed for what it is. As in previous books with McCann, much time and effort appears to have been spent by his researchers in dedicating one-third of the book to index. But it's interesting stuff, even if the spirit of comedy comes second best to the clinical approach of the work. I didn't sense the era from which this mighty double-act emerged, and I didn't come away singing Bring Me Sunshine. And, sadly, I doubt that the author would have wanted me too! But it's worth the price and can only add to the many other books written about Eric and Ernie.
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on 25 December 2010
Having watched and admired this duo for most of my life, I can't quite say how much I enjoyed this magnificent biography of them. It is astonishingly well-researched and written with great insight and affection. I've never read a 'showbiz' book that's as impressive as this. Really top drawer.
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on 21 November 2012
This is well worth reading! It is well researched and well written and the best one I have read so far. However I haven't yet read a Morecambe and Wise biography which adequately explains why Eric Morecambe moved from being a fairly reluctant, even laid back performer in his youth to the highly stressed, perfectionist he seems to have been as an adult. Also, what became of both his and Ernie's parents? How did they react to their son's achieving fame? Did they even live to see it? But do read this book!
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