10 Grey Close, Hampstead Gardens, May 1992. Photo © Tim Marshall.
[10 Grey Close was where Tony Hancock lived from 1947-8. Ernie Wise – surrounded by Graham Stark, Patricia Hayes, Barry Cryer, etc. unveils a blue plaque sponsored by the Dead Comics Society.]
From Grace, Beauty and Banjos (1999) by Michael Kilgarriff:
MORECAMBE & WISE (fl1948-84)
Fools Rush In
You’re Only Young Once
Although they had worked together as early as 1940 it wasn’t until 1948 that these two gentlemen formed a permanent partnership – in March of that year at the Palace Walthamstow the young comics were billed, inaccurately, as Morecambe & Wisdom Just Two Guys.
As a double act the team was unique in that the straight man (ERNIE WISE) was the klutz while the comic (ERIC MORECAMBE) was the keener-witted of the pair. We worked with the pair when at the peak of their popularity and were interested to observe how Mr Morecambe personally directed the comedy most meticulously, with Mr Wise nodding benignly in the background.
It is surprising to discover that early in their long association their rôles were reversed, with the comic burden sustained by Mr Wise and Mr Morecambe as the feed.
[Grace, Beauty and Banjos is a magisterial summary of Variety artistes and their ‘bill matter’: the tag lines by which the acts were represented on posters etc.]