Morecambe & Wise: Part of Blackpool’s Theatrical Heritage

The Morcambe & Wise statue in the Winter Gardens, image courtesy of Tom Carter

In 2016 Morecambe & Wise returned to Blackpool as part of the celebrations to mark the 75th Anniversary of their theatrical debut as a Double Act in 1941.

During their career Eric & Ernie appeared in seven Blackpool Theatres over a period of 36 years and made over 1,200 appearances in the town they later described as their spiritual home. They appeared in the 1955 Royal Variety Show at the Opera House and made their final appearance in Blackpool, again at the Opera House with their own touring show on Saturday 23 October 1976.

Morecambe and Wise were reunited in the form of an eight foot statue created by renowned sculptor Graham Ibbeson and unveiled at the Blackpool Winter Gardens in October 2016.

As a sculptor Graham uses humour as a tool. Drawing people in so they look at their world from a different angle and look at themselves through laughter. Graham Ibbeson’s work includes the statue of Les Dawson – one of Blackpool’s favourite variety entertainers – unveiled in Lytham St Anne’s by Tracy Dawson and her daughter Charlotte in 2008 and his art work of Laurel and Hardy was unveiled by Ken Dodd in Ulveston in 2009. Laurel and Hardy are also part of the rich tapestry of variety heritage in Blackpool having topped the bill at the Palace Theatre for a week in 1947.

Graham said “I have created over 35 public sculptures in major locations throughout the UK but to reunite Eric and Ernie in their spiritual home of Blackpool will be the highlight of my career.’’

The families of Morecambe & Wise are also delighted that this wonderful tribute is located in Blackpool and Eric’s daughter Gail said “Dad and Ernie would be very honoured and excited to know that the statue celebrating their 75th anniversary as a double act is to be sited in the foyer of the magnificent Blackpool Winter Gardens. This is where they appeared in the 1955 Royal Variety Show. I was two years old! They went on to appear in many more Summer Seasons in Blackpool. We would live as a family for several weeks each year on the Fylde Coast where we witnessed first-hand the very special relationship Morecambe & Wise developed with both the residents and holiday makers that flocked to Blackpool every year.It is fair to say that Dad and Ernie considered Blackpool to be a professional feather in their caps and their spiritual home, having great affection for both place and people.”

Jim Cadman

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