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Eric Morecambe would be ‘staggered’ at statue unveiled by ‘fan’ the Queen

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The comedy legend was one half of iconic double act Morecambe and Wise, whose partnership lit up British TV screens for decades until Eric’s death in 1984. The pair’s glittering careers are set to be thrust back into the limelight tonight as ‘Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes’ airs on ITV. The show features archive footage from a tape of the duo’s early days that has not been seen for 50 years and was previously thought to be lost.

Their routines, sketches and ventriloquism will all be shown, while big names Jonathan Ross, Ben Miller and Eddie Izzard will be sharing their thoughts on the entertainment. 

After Eric died, a statue honouring him was unveiled in 1999 – the year of Ernie Wise’s death – by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in his hometown of Morecambe, from which the comedian took his stage name.

The 6ft 7in figure, sculpted by Graham Ibbeson, features Eric in a classic pose with his hand in the air and his leg bent up behind him.

The statue features the names of the 103 celebrities who appeared alongside Morecambe and Wise down the years.

The royal couple took time to meet some of the thousands of fans who had gathered on Morecambe’s promenade for the occasion.

The Queen told David Miles, president of the Eric Morecambe Fan Club, that both her and the Duke were “great fans” of the funnyman, who, with Ernie, was a regular on the Royal Variety Show.

Eric’s wife, Joan Bartholomew, said the statue, which was unveiled to his and Ernie’s adopted song ‘Bring Me Sunshine’, would have amazed her husband.

“It’s a bit more than we anticipated. I knew they had done something but didn’t expect anything like this. I think the setting is beautiful and it will attract quite a lot of attention,” she said. 

“I think Eric would have been staggered. You think in terms of buildings or streets being named after you, but a statue? Not for a comic.

“Now he will be remembered for all time on Morecambe front.”

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Eric was born John Eric Bartholomew in 1926 and formed a partnership with Ernie Wise in 1941, making their debut as a double act in Liverpool.

Their act was broken up in 1943 however, as Ernie was called up to fight in World War 2 and Eric was sent down the mines as a Bevin boy.

The pair eventually joined forces again and got their first break in TV in 1954.

However, the duo really cemented their reputation as household names when they were given their own programme, ‘The Morecambe and Wise Show’, which first ran on BBC Two in 1968.

As the show progressed it featured a string of celebrity guests, including Elton John, Shirley Bassey, Peter Cushing and Vanessa Redgrave.

Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes is on ITV from 9-10pm on July 28.

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