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The man who made Morecambe and Wise

Features | January 2018


Eric and Ernie were not a double act but a three-man phenomenon indebted to Eddie Braben’s comic genius. The duo’s colossal success put unbearable pressures on their great scriptwriter, says Brian Viner

When Eddie Braben died in May 2013, aged 82, the most perceptive line about him came from a fellow Liverpudlian, the veteran radio critic Gillian Reynolds. She said he could have walked unrecognised up to just about any queue in Britain and said to everyone in it that he had probably, at some point in their lives, made them laugh. It was indubitably so. Yet he would not have dreamt of identifying himself to an unsuspecting public. Braben was perhaps Britain’s foremost TV and radio comedy writer, but he was also gentle, sensitive and ineffably modest. He knew that The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show only became a national institution in the 1970s because of him, relentlessly tapping away with both forefingers on his faithful typewriter at home in the Liverpool suburb of West Derby. But he would never had said so.  He alone knew the unique pressure that came...

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