Two Of A Kind (1961)

Two Of A Kind (1961)

"Two of a Kind" is the first TV series for comedy duo Morecambe & Wise. It ran from 1961 to 1968 on ATV.


On the back of success on stage in their double act in 1961 the comic partnership of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were offered a series for ATV by empresario Lew Grade. Paired with writers Sid Green and Dick Hills, the series fared poorly to start with. Early episodes saw Hills and Green writing for the comedians as if Morecambe and Wise were alter egos of the writers. There was an argument between the writers and the talent which was ended by an Equity strike which left the autumn television schedules in tatters. Green commented to Morecambe "You're done for", to which Morecambe replied "Not at all, we belong to VAF [The Variety Artists' Federation, then a separate trade union, since incorporated into Equity] ". The tables turned and Morecambe and Wise got their way. The sketches began to reflect their stage work and series became a success. Indeed, Hills and Green even appeared in the series as "Sid and Dick" - two all purpose stooges.

The series introduced several popular catchphrases (such as "Get out of that!"; "That's not nice"; "I'll smash your face in"; and "More tea Ern?") which would stay with them throughout their careers - as well as Morecambe's famous paper bag trick - as well as an original opening segment which saw the pair parody other series such as "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", "Dixon of Dock Green" and "Take Your Pick". It also attracted special guests such as Pearl Carr, Teddy Johnson and The Beatles. The celebrities were generally humiliated by the pair, and especially by Morecambe's playful insults, undermining the status of the celebrities, joking that they were "Rubbish" and pretending not to recognise them. Generally, the higher the status of the celebrities, the greater the humiliation.

The sixth Morecambe and Wise series for ITV was planned from the start to be aired in the United Kingdom as well as exported to the United States and Canada. It was taped in colour and starred international guests, often American. Prior to its British run, it was broadcast in North America by ABC network as a summer replacement for re-runs of "The Hollywood Palace" under the title "The Piccadilly Palace" from May 20 to September 9, 1967. The duo had appeared in the U.S. on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and hoped to become stars there, but negotiations for a longer run broke down when the show's ratings were strong in Canada but weak in the U.S. Lew Grade, who represented the comedians in the negotiations, said in his autobiography that the disappointing American ratings were a result of the comedians' refusal to slow down their fast-paced act.

In 1968, as a result of problems with contract negotiations with Lew Grade (they were not offered enough money or the chance to appear in colour), Morecambe and Wise left ATV to return to BBC.

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