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Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010
Ernie Wise brought sunshine from Leeds
Ernie Wise and Eric Morecombe
The duo in action, bringing a ray of sunshine to the viewers.

A stone statue of Ernie Wise has been unveiled in Morley by his widow Doreen.

Ernie grew up in Leeds and one of his first stage appearances, at around six years old, was at the old Pavilion Theatre on Queen Street in Morley.

Ernie, and his 'short, fat, hairy legs' found fame and fortune as one half of Morecambe and Wise one of the nation's best-loved comedy partnerships.

In 1977 at the height of his fame the duo's Christmas special on BBC TV was watched by over 28m viewers.

Ernie Wiseman (as he was then) was born in 1925 at St James's Hospital in Leeds.

Unannounced visit

Ernie's family was at the time of his birth is thought to have been living in Atlanta Street, Bramley. His family lived in numerous places throughout the city.

At one time Ernie lived in Oxley Street, off York Road in Richmond Hill, and Doreen also visited that house, when he lived there .

A story is told that when Ernie Wise made an, unannounced, visit back to his old house in Oxley Street the current owner wouldn't let Ernie over the threshold because as she explained "I haven't cleaned up!"

Ernie's dad, Harry, was a railway worker in Leeds but he was also an amateur performer. Harry, according to Doreen, "did a great clog dance". It was with his Dad - billed as Bert Carson and the little kid - that Ernie first trod the boards. He was the oldest of five children, and had to help with the family finances at a very early age by performing.

Eric, Ernie and guest stars from 1977
The celebrity-filled South Pacific line up from 1977's massive hit TV show.

Ernie first performed as a duo with Eric Bartholomew (as was) in 1941. Both of the men saw service during World War II, Ernie was in the Merchant Navy and Eric was a Bevin Boy conscripted down the pit.

A change of stage name to Morecambe and Wise (Eric was born in the town) followed with regular slots on radio and around the music and variety halls.The duo first performed on TV in 1953. Despite this first TV effort getting scathing, negative reviews from the critics the two men persisted.

Christmas specials

It was in the mid to late 1970s that the duo find the peak of their fame. Their Christmas specials shown on the BBC gaining a particular place in the viewers' hearts with a large proportion of the nation sitting glued to their television sets.

Ernie Wise's statue
A crowd, including the Lord Mayor of Morley, admire Ernie's new statue in Queen Street

Wise's character had evolved from being a conventional straight man into a pretentious and self-satisfied idiot, a man that was smugly confident in the great appeal of "A play what I wrote". Their programme-ending performance of Bring me Sunshine became an important part of the act's appeal.

Eric and Ernie was a true double act, an early handshake between the pair had established that the rewards of their work were to be split 50/50.

Ernie was appointed an OBE in 1976. When Eric died of a heart attack in 1984 the supreme comedy duo was no more.

A statue to Eric Morecambe was unveiled on the seaside town's prom in 1999.

Ernie died in 1999.

The Ernie Wise statue stands in Queen Street, Morley. It was unveiled on Thursday, 4 March 2010.

Wise statue divides town opinion
04 Mar 10 |  West Yorkshire
Eric and Ernie letter unearthed
12 Oct 09 |  Entertainment


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