Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Sunday, 14 December 2008

Wise widow funds home town statue

Morcambe and Wise
Wise, left, died in March 1999, aged 73

A statue of funnyman Ernie Wise is to be built in his home town, 10 years after his death.

Fans have wanted a statue of Wise in Morley, West Yorkshire, for years but have been unable to raise enough money.

An application for lottery cash for a 38,000 bronze statue was rejected earlier this year.

A stone version costing about 10,000 will now be created by local sculptor Melanie Wilks, after Wise's widow Doreen agreed to fund the project.

The sculptor has been commissioned by Morley Murals Committee, which had been trying to raise the money.

She told BBC News: "I am absolutely over the moon, I am so excited about it now that it's going to happen."

She said she would start work on the project in the new year, once her final design had been given the go-ahead by Wise's widow, and hoped the statue would be completed in June.

National institution

The committee will meet in January to decide on the site for the statue.

Ernie Wise died in 21 March 1999, at the age of 73.

Born Ernie Wiseman, he forged his comedy partnership with Eric Bartholomew when he was 16, in the 1940s.

But Wiseman and Bartholomew was too long for bright-lights and billboards and they renamed as Morecambe and Wise.

For four decades, the duo whose Christmas specials became a national institution, captured the public's affection with a mix of self-deprecating charm and schoolboy humour.

They were both awarded OBEs in 1976.

Their theme tune was Bring Me Sunshine but the final curtain came with Morecambe's death in Gloucestershire from heart failure in May 1984, aged 57.

Ernie described it as the saddest day of his life.

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