LOST recordings from the early career of legendary comedy due Morecambe and Wise have been unearthed in a garage.
Around 45 hours’ worth of material was discovered by Ernie’s widow Doreen while preparing to move home six months ago. The double act had paid the sound engineer a few shillings at a time to make copies of their recordings.
The material – on acetate discs and reel-to-reel tapes – dates from the Fifties. The treasure trove of lost comedy includes the pairs’ long-lost first radio show You’re Only Young Once, aired on the BBC Northern Home Service between November 1953 and June 1954 and featuring guests including Bob Monkhouse and Harry Secombe.
Audio from the pilot for their early 1960s ATV series was also found as well as master copies of songs, after-dinner speeches and tapes of end-of-the pier shows.
Following Doreen’s discovery, Morecambe and Wise’s former agents contacted independent radio firm Whistledown to investigate what could be done with the material.
BBC experts were able to restore some, but not all, of the old recordings, and highlights will be aired later this year on Radio 4.
Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said: ‘’The lost tapes are both a bit of comedy history and BBC history as well as entertaining in themselves. It is good stuff that’s never been heard before and raw stuff from the early Fifties.
‘Some of the sketches were remade for the Seventies. There was a famous Dick Turpin sketch with double entendres which started out in ’53 or ’54 and ended up on TV in around 1975.”
The hour-long collection of highlights – Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes – will air 9am, May 4, presented by Jon Culshaw. It is also reported that BBC Radio 4 or 7 is in negotiations to broadcast all the unheard material – around 25 shows’ worth.
Morecambe and Wise began their partnership in 1941. They reached the peak of the career with their 1977 Christmas Show, which attracted 28 million viewers. Morecambe died in 1984, and Wise in 1999.