Although I didn’t know it when I was a child, I was being influenced by the writing of Eddie Braben. I didn’t know who he was or what he did, but I was laughing at his jokes and have been telling some of them, unknowingly, for years.
As a comedy writer for the likes of David Frost, Ronnie Corbett and Ken Dodd, Eddie Braben became synonomous with Britain’s best-loved comedy duo, Morecambe & Wise when he was invited to join the BBC by Bill Cotton.
What Braben brought to the table was an observation of a friendship between Eric and Ernie that other writers had missed. He was the man who had them sharing a flat and a bed, something which Morecambe wasn’t best pleased about until Braben mentioned that Morecambe’s heroes, Laurel and Hardy also shared a bed. “If it’s good enough for Laurel and Hardy, it’s good enough for us.”
Braben was a teenager when he first saw the duo perform at the Liverpool Empire. He later recalled to the BBC in 2004 that he wasn’t a fan of them: “I thought they were too American: Ernie was abrasive and Eric was a bit silly”
Braben focussed on their friendship, he created a pompous playwright role for Wise and the wise-cracking best mate for Morecambe. It was this, and the duo’s obvious affection for each other, that made the show work. Braben’s lines were rehearsed to perfection, and delivered with such professionalism that the whole thing seemed effortless.
What I love most about the Morecambe & Wise shows is the fact that I have been able to laugh along with the rest of my family for decades and, each time I watch the Grieg’s Piano Concerto By Grieg sketch or a play what Ernie wrote, I find something new to appreciate. I think a lot of that comes with age, understanding jokes that went way over my childish head. But the lion’s share of the credit must surely go to the writer, Eddie Braben.
Eddie Braben, writer, 1930-2013