Evoking memories of a time when whole families would huddle around the telly on Sunday evenings, Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens will pay homage to Morecambe and Wise in their show Eric & Ern that’s coming to Aberdeen.
Packed with the iconic comic double act’s much-loved routines, catchphrases, songs and sketches, Ian and Jonty are excited to hit the road again and bring family entertainment to The Tivoli Theatre on November 16.
“It’s a nostalgia trip, really,” said Ian who plays Ernie Wise.
“We’re going back to watching Morecambe and Wise when we all used to sit around and watch TV as a family and laugh at the same jokes.
“It’s good clean family entertainment.”
Fun for whole family
And it’s not just the fans who remember those times that enjoy the show. Even youngsters who weren’t born when the duo were thrilling audiences in the 60s and 70s are enjoying a bit of Morecambe and Wise humour.
Ian said: “It’s because it’s funny. It was funny then and it’s funny now. It was never political and they were absolutely loved by the British public.
“We had a 10-year-old boy in the audience the other night – he was in the front row and he was laughing so much. It was lovely. And he was next to his mum and his grandma – the whole family was laughing their heads off.
“The last few nights we had a standing ovation. People were on their feet and they were going mad for it. I had tears running down my face and I was laughing so much my belly was aching. It’s that kind of show. It’s absolutely something people need after Covid.”
Eric & Ern will deliver famous sketches and catchphrases
Morecambe and Wise fans can also expect to see many of the double act’s famous sketches and routines.
Ian said: “Originally, we wrote a play about Morecambe and Wise where we delved into the characters of Eric and Ern, but this is a spin-off, this is a pure entertainment show with a lot of sketches and routines – some of them you’ll know and love and some are new ones that we’ve written.”
Eric & Ern opened at the Edinburgh Fringe to rave reviews and a sell-out run in 2013. But it was years before the festival when Ian and Jonty, who met at drama school in Birmingham in 1983, first performed as the double act.
Ian said: “The whole thing started when we did a five-minute sketch for our friends at The Stage Golfing Society. They said it was fantastic and that we must do something with it, so we wrote a play and took it to Edinburgh and toured. It ended up in the West End and got nominated for an Olivier Award and this is a spin-off of that show.
“It’s kind of taken over our lives.”
‘We’re like brothers’
Ian thinks the reason why their show is so popular is because – just like Eric and Ern – he and Jonty have great chemistry.
“I’m on stage with Jonty and he is my best friend,” said Ian.
“We met at drama school 38 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. I think that’s part of the magic. Eric and Ern were like brothers and that’s what me and Jonty are – we’re like brothers and that’s why it works.”
Ian and Jonty also have the support and approval of Eric Morecambe’s son Gary and daughter Gail.
Ian said: “Both Gary and Gail watch the show all the time. We had a meeting with Gary literally the other day and he gives us little notes and tips – he’s really involved in the show.”
Especially excited about Aberdeen gig
And while Ian is excited to perform in Aberdeen, it’s their stage manager Dougie Wilson who is even more thrilled to be taking the production to The Tivoli.
“We have an Aberdonian in the company,” said Ian.
“Dougie Wilson – he was on the front page of your newspaper – he’s the guy who won £250,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
“We’re all excited – Dougie especially – to be coming to Aberdeen. We played His Majesty’s a few years ago and we had a great time so it’s nice to be going back.”
“Dougie took us to some pub down the side street somewhere,” he added, laughing.
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