Unseen photos remind us of The Morecambe & Wise Show 50 years after duo first ...

One glance at their faces is enough to make you chuckle. More than the silliness of their antics, it’s the sheer innocence of their humour that shines through.

These publicity stills of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, released by the BBC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the duo’s move from commercial TV to Broadcasting House, are a glowing reminder of what comedy used to be — warm, friendly and infectious.

And they are a delightful keepsake of the rich friendship between two ridiculously talented performers, who had loyally stuck beside each other since their teens during World War II.

Horsing about: Eric plays heroic highwayman Dick Turpin, who rescues Ernie’s maiden in distress in a 1975 show 

Horsing about: Eric plays heroic highwayman Dick Turpin, who rescues Ernie’s maiden in distress in a 1975 show 

Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe with a trumpet

Keith Michell, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise as French Foreign Legion soldiers with a rubber duck ring

A giggle and a grin: Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe with a trumpet, left, and then right, Captain Keith Michell and Sgt Wise of the Foreign Legion come across Private Eric, in search of a holiday camp, from 1971

Eric Morecambe as Dick Turpin and Ernie Wise as a beautiful damsel in a dress, photographed on October 20 in 1975

Eric Morecambe as Dick Turpin and Ernie Wise as a beautiful damsel in a dress, photographed on October 20 in 1975

Fur play: Singer Diane Solomon wraps up warm with the boys The army game: Ernie, Eric and Sir John Mills attempt against a severe Russian winter in their 1975 Christmas special 

Fur play: Singer Diane Solomon wraps up warm with the boys The army game: Ernie, Eric and Sir John Mills attempt against a severe Russian winter in their 1975 Christmas special 

Short and sweet: Eric with huge shorts and shiny shoes, and mockery for Ernie’s ‘short, fat, hairy legs’ 

Short and sweet: Eric with huge shorts and shiny shoes, and mockery for Ernie’s ‘short, fat, hairy legs’ 

 Innocent glee: Eric and Ernie pull up their shirts for comely nurse Ann Hamilton in their 1970 New Year’s Day show

 Innocent glee: Eric and Ernie pull up their shirts for comely nurse Ann Hamilton in their 1970 New Year’s Day show

 High priests of comedy: Eric and Ernie as monks in a 1976 show . . . joined by an enormous bird’s claws

 High priests of comedy: Eric and Ernie as monks in a 1976 show . . . joined by an enormous bird’s claws

 Warm work: Eric gets hot under the collar dressing as Sooty to welcome the bear and puppeteer Harry Corbett to a 1973 show

 Warm work: Eric gets hot under the collar dressing as Sooty to welcome the bear and puppeteer Harry Corbett to a 1973 show

 The army game: Ernie, Eric and Sir John Mills attempt against a severe Russian winter in their 1975 Christmas special to escape the clutches of POW camp Stalag 54 and German commandant Arnold Diamond in a 1971 sketch

 The army game: Ernie, Eric and Sir John Mills attempt against a severe Russian winter in their 1975 Christmas special to escape the clutches of POW camp Stalag 54 and German commandant Arnold Diamond in a 1971 sketch

They’d had bouts of stardom and disastrous flops, a series of movies that made them household names followed by catastrophic ill health.

Through it all, their partnership never wavered: when Eric was recovering from a near-fatal heart attack in 1968, Ernie took solo work and split the fees with his old chum.

After they returned to TV in 1968, finding a home at the BBC and a new comedy style with writer Eddie Braben, the duo radiated a renewed joy for life.

Millions of viewers who tuned in to watch their Saturday night shows and their Christmas specials felt it too. Today, looking at these pictures, that seems to shine through more strongly than ever.

These are two comic masters enjoying every moment of their work, bursting with childlike delight. They know how lucky they are to have each other. They know how many years they slogged for success that seemed unattainable.

Now they have it, and they’re not going to waste a moment of it.

Theirs was a comedy that simply doesn’t exist on television today — without cynicism, without political correctness, without foul language or nastiness.

Through it all, their partnership never wavered: when Eric (pictured with Glenda Jackson) was recovering from a near-fatal heart attack in 1968, Ernie took solo work and split the fees with his old chum

Through it all, their partnership never wavered: when Eric (pictured with Glenda Jackson) was recovering from a near-fatal heart attack in 1968, Ernie took solo work and split the fees with his old chum

After they returned to TV in 1968, finding a home at the BBC and a new comedy style with writer Eddie Braben, the duo (pictured on their Christmas show in 1971) radiated a renewed joy for life

After they returned to TV in 1968, finding a home at the BBC and a new comedy style with writer Eddie Braben, the duo (pictured on their Christmas show in 1971) radiated a renewed joy for life

Millions of viewers who tuned in to watch their Saturday night shows and their Christmas specials felt it too - their renewed joy for life

Millions of viewers who tuned in to watch their Saturday night shows and their Christmas specials felt it too - their renewed joy for life

Today, looking at these pictures (this still showing Ernie Wise as Samuel Pepys) their joy seems to shine through more strongly than ever

Today, looking at these pictures (this still showing Ernie Wise as Samuel Pepys) their joy seems to shine through more strongly than ever

John Thaw and Dennis Waterman

Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe in motor bike and sidecar with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman behind them

Ready to go: Ernie Wise and Eric Morecambe in motor bike and sidecar with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman pictured left

All smiles! On Christmas day in 1976 the four men pictured, Ernie Wise, John Thaw, Eric Morecambe and Dennis Waterman, seemed to be enjoying themselves

All smiles! On Christmas day in 1976 the four men pictured, Ernie Wise, John Thaw, Eric Morecambe and Dennis Waterman, seemed to be enjoying themselves

In these images, these are two comic masters (pictured with Diana Rigg) enjoying every moment of their work, bursting with childlike delight. They know how lucky they are to have each other. They know how many years they slogged for success that seemed unattainable

In these images, these are two comic masters (pictured with Diana Rigg) enjoying every moment of their work, bursting with childlike delight. They know how lucky they are to have each other. They know how many years they slogged for success that seemed unattainable

Theirs was a comedy that simply doesn’t exist on television today — without cynicism, without political correctness, without foul language or nastiness

Theirs was a comedy that simply doesn’t exist on television today — without cynicism, without political correctness, without foul language or nastiness

One glance at their faces is enough to make you chuckle. More than the silliness of their antics, it’s the sheer innocence of their humour that shines through. Pictured: Eric in top hat, tails, black shorts and black tights

One glance at their faces is enough to make you chuckle. More than the silliness of their antics, it’s the sheer innocence of their humour that shines through. Pictured: Eric in top hat, tails, black shorts and black tights

These publicity stills of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, released by the BBC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the duo’s move from commercial TV to Broadcasting House, are a glowing reminder of what comedy used to be — warm, friendly and infectious

These publicity stills of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, released by the BBC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the duo’s move from commercial TV to Broadcasting House, are a glowing reminder of what comedy used to be — warm, friendly and infectious

The pictures are a delightful keepsake of the rich friendship between two ridiculously talented performers, who had loyally stuck beside each other since their teens during World War II

The pictures are a delightful keepsake of the rich

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