Tape of first ever Morecambe & Wise Show episode is discovered after being lost for 50 years

The first ever Morecambe & Wise Show episode has been discovered after being lost for 50 years. 

Eric Morecambe’s son Gary found an unlabelled film can in the attic of the family home last year, which turned out to be the only existing tape of the debut instalment of the comedy programme.

The BBC wiped many master tapes back in the 70s, including this first episode of the Morecambe & Wise Show. Only an audio version was thought to exist, until now. 

Now that it has been unearthed, ITV will air the footage as part of its Lost Tapes series, alongside interviews with Gary, his mum Joan Morecambe and sister Gail, as well as celebrity fans including Jonathan Ross, Ben Miller and Eddie Izzard. 

Amazing! The first ever Morecambe & Wise Show episode has been discovered after being lost for 50 years

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise fronted an astounding 175 shows over a 22-year TV career, regularly pulling in more than 20 million viewers every week in their 70s heyday. 

And, despite getting 14 million viewers, the first ever Morecambe & Wise Show – broadcast on October 8, 1970 – has never been repeated. 

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The half-hour special featured an array of jokes and comedy moments involving ventriloquism and a toy dog that shoots nerve gas out of its rear end.

There’s also a cheeky bedroom sketch in which Eric eavesdrops on newlyweds. And the double act end the episode with their signature song Bring Me Sunshine.

Wow! Eric Morecambe’s son Gary (pictured) found an unlabelled film can in the attic of the family home last year, which turned out to be the only existing tape of the debut episode

What a find! The BBC wiped many master tapes back in the 70s, including this first episode of the Morecambe & Wise Show. Only an audio version was thought to exist, until now

Although the film was the first Morecambe & Wise Show to air on the BBC, the comedic pair had appeared on the station before.  

They starred in Running Wild in 1954, but it was wildly unsuccessful and led to the notorious review: ‘Definition of the week: TV set – the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise’.

Eric was said to have kept the newspaper cutting in his wallet for the rest of his life.

Great news! Now that it has been unearthed, ITV will air the footage as part of its Lost Tapes series, alongside interviews with family members and celebrity fans

In 1961, they began a successful comeback on ITV station ATV, before moving to BBC2 in 1968.  

Their Christmas Special is still repeated every year to this day. 

Eric died in May 1984 aged just 58 after collapsing on stage. Ernie died aged 73 in March 1999. 

Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes will air on ITV on Wednesday July 28, at 9pm. 

Brilliant! Morecambe & Wise: The Lost Tapes will air on ITV on Wednesday July 28, at 9pm

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