Uncanny portrayal of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise to come to Barrow

Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens as Eric and Ern

An uncanny portrayal of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise is to come to Barrow. Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens as Eric and Ern will tour the UK from January 29 to April 30.

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. As seen on BBC One’s ‘The One Show’ and ITV1’s ‘The Alan Titchmarsh Show’, the performances contain some of the first new writing in the style of Morecambe & Wise material in over 30 years. Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens have been performing and writing as Eric and Ern for more than five years.

The performers themselves have a wonderful relationship with the families and estates of Morecambe & Wise – with all scripts given the families’ seal of approval before being performed. “I have been fascinated with Eric Morecambe for as long as I can remember,” says 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 said: “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 and Jonty met at drama school over 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 short fat hairy legs 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.

It was these performances that set them off on an incredible journey, with rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, an acclaimed West End season at the Vaudeville Theatre, and an Olivier Award nomination for ‘the play wot we wrote’ – ‘Eric and Little Ern’. Jonty said: “More importantly, the audiences love watching it – which is always handy. But it’s more than just watching a comedy show – there’s a real emotional connection, because we all remember watching it together.

The audience reaction has been amazing. “I never thought I’d see Morecambe and Wise live. I think I just have!” Ben Elton

“Wonderfully affectionate performances. They were both absolutely brilliant.” Lord Grade, former agent to Morecambe and Wise, who negotiated the duo’s move from ATV to BBC2 in 1968.

Full list of shows:

MAST MAYFLOWER, SOUTHAMPTON 29TH, 30TH JANUARY YORK THEATRE ROYAL 1ST, 2ND FEBRUARY

THE FORUM, BARROW 3RD FEBRUARY STAMFORD CORN EXCHANGE 5TH FEBRUARY WOLVERHAMPTON GRAND 7TH FEBRUARY

BATH’S HALL, SCUNTHORPE 8TH FEBRUARY LAWRENCE BATLEY THEATRE 9TH,10TH FEBRUARY PLAYHOUSE, WHITLEY BAY 11TH FEBRUARY

DERBY THEATRE 12TH FEBRUARY TYNE THEATRE 15TH FEBRUARY BILLINGHAM FORUM 16TH FEBRUARY

PRINCE OF WALES, CANNOCK 17TH,18TH FEBRUARY WAVENDON STABLES, MILTON KEYNES 19TH,20TH FEBRUARY RADLETT CENTRE 22ND FEBRUARY

CENTRAL THEATRE, CHATHAM 23RD FEBRUARY CORE AT THE CORBY CUBE 24TH FEBRUARY APEX, BURY ST EDMONDS 25TH FEBRUARY

MARGATE THEATRE ROYAL 26TH FEBRUARY SWAN THEATRE, WORCESTER 27TH FEBRUARY SWINDON WYVERN 28TH FEBRUARY

ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE 2ND MARCH SWANSEA GRAND THEATRE 3RD MARCH CHELMSFORD CITY THEATRES 4TH MARCH

NEW THEATRE CARDIFF 13TH MARCH TUNBRIDGE WELLS ASSEMBLY 15TH MARCH NORWICH PLAYHOUSE 16TH MARCH

HULL TRUCK THEATRE 17TH MARCH PARR HALL, WARRINGTON 18TH MARCH DURHAM EMPIRE CONSETT 19TH MARCH

WHITE ROCK HASTINGS 22ND MARCH BASINGSTOKE HAYMARKET 23RD MARCH TAUNTON BREWHOUSE 24TH MARCH

SHANKLIN THEATRE, ISLE OF WIGHT 25TH MARCH PORTSMOUTH GUILDHALL 26TH MARCH WEYMOUTH PAVILION 27TH MARCH

SOUTHPORT ATKINSON 30TH MARCH ST GEORGE’S HALL, BRADFORD 31ST MARCH READING HEXAGON 1ST APRIL

ALBAN ARENA 19TH APRIL QUEENS THEATRE, BARNSTAPLE 20TH APRIL DE MONTFORD HALL, LEICESTER 23RD APRIL

NEW WOLSEY IPSWICH 24TH APRIL LANCASTER GRAND 27TH APRIL HARROGATE THEATRE 28TH, 29TH APRIL

FLORAL PAVILION, WIRRAL 30TH APRIL