Review: Morecambe and Wise: The Lost Tapes may not have unearthed much new, but Eric and Ern still make me laugh more than most

There hasn’t been much to laugh about recently, what with pandemics, pingdemics, climate change and social division, so it was a blessed relief to wallow in Morecambe and Wise: The Lost Tapes (ITV, Weds, 9pm).

Friday, 30th July 2021, 6:00 pm

Initially, there was a sense of excitement we might be watching an episode recorded by the iconic duo in October 1970 and not seen since – what could there be that we haven’t seen in the countless reruns and tributes since?

It was with a slight sense if disappointment, then, that it soon became apparent we were not going to see much of that ‘lost’ episode. Instead, we had interviews with Eric Morecambe’s family, co-stars and celebrity guests – a sort of Eric’n’Erniebox – with glimpses of their most famous routines and a couple of those ‘new’ sketches.

Somehow, though, that didn’t matter, because the beauty of Morecambe and Wise is that their comedy never gets old.

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ITV unveiled a couple of Eric and Ernie sketches which had been unseen since 1970 in a new documentary Morecambe and Wise: The Lost Tapes

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And every time I laugh. Like I laugh at ‘Andrew Preview’, and Shirley Bassey in pink sequins and builder’s boots, or Penelope Keith calling Eric ‘Mr Moron’.

And this week I laughed all over again. Proper belly laughs, not just an amused chuckle. Like I laughed with my dad watching their Thames TV series in the early 80s, some of my formative TV memories.

Lost or not, Eric and Ern are two of the great joys of our age, and we’re lucky to still have so much evidence.

I love Fake or Fortune (BBC1, Weds, 9pm), even though it’s clearly scripted and edited very tightly, rather than a freewheeling discovery, but the stories it tells about art and artists are illuminating.

No Body Recovered (ITV, Thurs, 9pm) was a true crime documentary about a police inquiry into the death of a South Wales man in which – no surprise – they had no body. Routine, not revelatory.