Magazine article The Spectator

CUL T U R E N O T E S the Man Behind Eric and Ernie

Magazine article The Spectator

CUL T U R E N O T E S the Man Behind Eric and Ernie

Article excerpt

It takes a special sort of talent to turn a good act into a great one, and without John Ammonds, who died la st month , aged 88 , it 's qu ite po s sible that today 's couch potatoe s never wou ld have hea rd o f Morecambe & Wise. As their BBC producer, he transformed them from jobbing comics into a national institution.

The seven series he made with them st i l l stand a s the acme o f Light Entertainment television.

When Ammonds teamed up with Eric and Ernie, their double act was two-dimensional. Viewers liked them but they didn't warm to them. Ammonds reconnected them with their theatrical roots, filming them on a raised stage with wings and curtain. He booked highbrow guests for them to bounce off, like Glenda Jackson, Vanessa Redgrave and their most celebrated co-star Andre Previn. …

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