Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Ernie Wise statue divides opinion in Morley

Morley people look at the statue of Ernie Wise
Wise's widow Doreen funded the statue after a bid for lottery cash failed

A statue of funnyman Ernie Wise has been unveiled in his home town, dividing opinion among residents.

The 7ft (2m) statue in Morley, West Yorkshire, is near Morley Pavilion, where Wise performed as a boy.

One woman resident told BBC News: "We should have a statue of him. It's something to cheer us up. I think [Morecambe and Wise] were great."

Another man said: "It doesn't even look like him. It looks as if he's falling over and it's frightening people."

The man added: "A lot of people in Morley, including me, think it's a complete waste of time and money."

Lottery bid

Wise's widow Doreen Wiseman agreed to fund the £8,000 stone statue after an application for lottery cash for a £38,000 bronze version was rejected in 2008.

It has been created by local artist Melanie Wilks.

Mrs Wiseman joked she had been looking forward to the unveiling "because that's the only time Ernie will be over six feet tall".

She said: "I think it's great, I think Melanie's done a wonderful job.

Morcambe and Wise
Morecambe and Wise were both awarded OBEs in 1976

"No statue ever looks like the person, let's face it.

"The poor girl was on a hill top in ice and snow and wet with a little chisel and when I saw the piece of stone I thought 'no way is that ever going to be a statue'."

Mrs Wiseman said she thought her late husband would be embarrassed if he knew about the statue.

"He always used to say to me 'keep a low profile'," she added.

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 themselves as Morecambe and Wise.

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