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Date: 01/11/08

"...But Not Necessarily In The Right Order"

In line with JudgeCo™'s policy of bringing you a laugh to cheer you through the Credit Crunch, the Salary Slam and the Banking Balls-up, we give you something from the greatest comedy double act of all time.

Morecambe & Wise's Christmas shows were the high spot of the light entertainment year on British television for much of the 1970s. Not only were the skills of the two men themselves without parallel, they were able to get some most remarkable guests to come on and perform comedy, mostly to great effect (Glenda Jackson got her role in A Touch Of Class after the director saw her as Cleopatra in one of the plays "wot Ernie wrote")

(And this is the moment to give the proper credit to their writer Eddie Braben, whose contribution to taking Eric & Ernie to the top has been in my view scandalously overlooked)

In that same Christmas show of 1971, the famous musician and conductor André Previn was invited to participate. Here you can see what happened.

To set the scene a little further: Morecambe & Wise wanted to do a couple of days of rehearsal for the sketch, but Previn was working in the US and couldn't get to London until the day of shooting. This made Eric Morecambe (who, despite appearing to ad-lib a lot always prepared meticulously) very nervous. Note, therefore, his reaction to Previn's line (at about 4:27 in), "All right, I'll go get my baton [...] It's in Chicago." At this point, Eric knew that all would be well.

Previn, indeed, acquits himself perfectly with a sense of timing which befits someone who had spent his professional life in the world of music. And the ability to keep a straight face - especially difficult when 'the band' was cracking up in front of him.

Because of all this, what follows is one of the - if not the - greatest TV comedy sketches of all time.

Enough blather - here. Enjoy! And rejoice that we had these guys around to make us laugh - then and long after the curtain came down on them.

Update: The clip has now been blocked by BBC Worldwide. I mean, it's not as if my licence fee hasn't already paid for it, is it? Sheesh!

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