Dundee writer creates BBC biopic on man who penned for Eric and Ernie

Stephen Tompkinson, Mark Bonnar and Neil Maskell are to star in a new BBC Morecambe and Wise biopic

They were one of the nation’s best-loved comedy duos — and now a Dundee writer’s biopic will shed light on the man credited with their success.

Morecambe and Wise were a mainstay of British TV for decades, with the pair’s Christmas specials attracting prime-time audiences of more than 20 million, some of the largest in British television history.

But while few people can forget Eric and Ernie’s classic double act, the duo were actually part of a so-called “golden triangle”.

Eddie Braben was the man behind the scenes, who wrote many of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Specials now regarded as timeless comedy gold.

Broughty Ferry writer Neil Forsyth, best-known for his fictional comic character Bob Servant, has pushed the seldom-seen Braben into the spotlight with his latest offering — Eric, Ernie and Me.

The show follows the story of how Braben came to meet Morecambe and Wise and the partnership that turned an awkward music hall double act into national treasures.

It stars Stephen Tompkinson as Eddie Braben, Mark Bonnar as Eric Morecambe and Neil Maskell as Ernie Wise.

Neil said special care had been taken to realistically portray the “pressure and pain” that Braben went through producing scripts for the show.

He said: “Eddie had a torturous approach to writing — he would sit up all night and drive himself nuts.

“He was definitely one of these writers who couldn’t switch off — he worked in a spare room in his house in Liverpool.

“He worked himself to exhaustion but he didn’t want any of the limelight.

“I went to rural Wales and met Eddie’s widow — she gave me some feedback and she was very positive about it.”

As a writer, Neil has seen Bob Servant adapted for radio and an award-winning TV programme starring Brian Cox but said that he enjoyed producing a biopic.

“It was interesting because the characters were already there and the challenge was to depict them accurately and to find the story within a story,” he said.

“I have absolutely loved working with the actors. It is so exciting watching what they do with the script and how they bring it to life.”

Eric, Ernie and Me will be screened on BBC4 on December 29 at 9pm.

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