Well Hello, Horatio; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

Daily Mail (London), June 22, 2011 | Go to article overview

Well Hello, Horatio; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION In which Morecambe And Wise sketch did the line 'Fetch Lady Hamilton' appear, and who was in the sketch?

THE Lady Hamilton in question was the wonderful Fenella Fielding.

She is perhaps best remembered as the husky-voiced vamp who played Valeria, in Carry On Screaming. In a famous scene, she reclines on a chaise-longue and asks: 'Do you mind if I smoke?' Seconds later, clouds of smoke appear, apparently rising from her generously exposed torso.

In 1969, she appeared in the first Morecambe And Wise Christmas Special in a couple of sketches called The Play What Ernie Wrote.

In the first, the duo arrive at her apartment to 'fetch Lady Hamilton'; that is, to recruit her for Ernie's play about the death of Admiral Nelson.

Fielding, according to type, plays a seductive femme fatale in a revealing leopard-print dress (who keeps her bank manager in her closet). She immediately takes a shine to Ernie, stating: 'I say, what a lovely little thing you are - you're small but I'll bet you're a beautiful little mover.'

Eric does his best to protect Ernie and tells him: 'Be careful otherwise I'll be taking you home in a bucket'.

He later asks Fielding: 'How are you on the hornpipe?' Ernie quickly butts in: 'Have you no decorum?' and Ernie replies: 'No, it fell off during the cold snap.'

Later in the show, we have the actual play, a ten-minute largely improvised sketch where Lady Hamilton (with generously exposed bosom) stows away on a ship. Ernie plays Nelson, and Eric, who was meant to play Hardy, turns up on one leg as Long John Silver.

At one stage, while leaning on his crutch, he hops from foot-to-foot, stating: 'This could be a running gag.' It was by no means the strongest Christmas show, mainly because Eric and Ernie had flu at the time and couldn't record some scenes, so the show borrowed from episodes they had already recorded for their 1970 series.

Thus the Lady Hamilton sketch also appears on Morecambe And Wise Series 3, episode 3. Gerry Taylor, Cumbria.

QUESTION Reminded by the latest exam season, I was wondering when the Group Cert ceased to exist.

WHAT was known as the Group Cert or the Day Cert was replaced by the Junior Leaving Certificate exams in 1992.

Instruction for the then new Junior Leaving Certificate had begun in September 1989, so everyone, teachers and pupils alike, had plenty of time to prepare for the new system.

Few tears were shed for the old Day Vocational Certificate as the course that replaced it turned out to be much more flexible. Even though vocational education had begun in the early Thirties, the Day Vocational Certificate didn't appear until the late Forties, when it was brought in to standardise curriculums in vocational schools.

Then in 1966, vocational schools were given the authority to provide courses leading to the Intermediate and Leaving Certificate exams. This meant a huge increase in demand for tuition at vocational schools, as students could now progress from them to further and higher education.

That decision was the beginning of the end for the Group Cert. However, vocational education was far older than the Group Cert.

In 1927, a commission for technical education had been set up by the then education minister, John Marcus O'Sullivan.

The commission proposed the establishment of vocational educational committees in local authority areas and this happened under the 1930 Vocational Education Act, which proved to be very forward thinking as it enabled the development of continuing education, now called lifelong learning.

As for the Leaving Cert, it came into being in 1924 and the first actual exams took place three years later, in 1927. Second-level exams had existed since 1879, under the Intermediate Education Board of Ireland. This was a British exam system, so when the first government of the Irish Free State came to office, its head, W. …

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