Highly acclaimed for their uncanny portrayal of the legendary comedy duo, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, actors Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens return with An Evening of Eric & Ern on a UK tour
Crammed full of renditions of those famous comedy sketches, and coupled with contemporary references in their unique style, the show evokes memories of times when whole families would huddle around the telly on Sunday evenings to share in the much-loved antics of Britain’s national treasures.
Ian and Jonty have been performing and writing as Eric and Ern for almost five years. The research into their subjects is there for all to see in their staggeringly accurate portrayal of one if the most successful and much-loved British comedy duo.
The performers have a wonderful relationship with the families and estates of Morecambe and Wise – with all scripts vetted and authorised before being performed.
“I have been fascinated with Eric Morecambe for as long as I can remember,” said Jonty.
“I took on his persona at school and it never really left me. He was the funniest and loveliest of men. We both feel it’s a privilege to play Eric and Ernie and some people have said it’s like we’re channelling them – some nights it does feel like that.”
Ian and Jonty met at drama school more than 30 years ago and continued their friendship playing golf together at The Stage Golf Society in Richmond.
When Jonty was asked to play Eric at a charity show he knew that with his diminutive stature, Ian would be the perfect Ernie Wise. Having brought the house down the two then wrote some ‘bespoke’ material for their friends at the golf club.
Ian said: “It was these performances which laid the foundation for a very long and incredible journey that led to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.”
This was followed by a run at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End, which was topped by an Olivier Award nomination for ‘the play wot we wrote’ – Eric and Little Ern.
They prepared for the show by watching DVDs of Eric and Ernie and talking to the family and writers including Barry Cryer.
“We spent a day with him – he was having a boiled egg and a fag. After that he suggested we adjourned to the pub for the rest of the day – it was a special time,” said Jonty.
His favourite sketch is ‘all the right notes’ with conductor Andre Previn.
Ian votes for Cleopatra with Glenda Jackson.
The two actors have also posed with Eric’s statue in Morecambe and broadcast from its site on the seafront.
“We do treasure the relationship we have with each other – as did Eric and Ernie and I think it’s obvious that we love performing the comedy of Morecambe and Wise,” Ian said.
Part of the appeal of their show is that it can be watched by generations together.
Jonty said: “It’s more than just watching a comedy show – there’s a real emotional connection, because we all remember watching it together.”
An Evening With Eric and Ern is on at:
Bridlington Spa, Wednesday October 23 at 7.30pm
Tickets 01262 678258
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, Saturday October 26 at 7.30pm
Tickets: 01723 370541