Nic Wright

Blackpool in Morecambe and Wise tribute bid

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Morecambe and Wise will be returning to Blackpool this autumn as part of the celebrations to mark the 75th Anniversary of their theatrical debut.

The duo will be reunited in the form of an eight foot statue currently being created by renowned sculptor Graham Ibbeson.

A local committee has been formed and has already started work organising activities and events to raise the £75,000 required to create the larger than life bronze infused resin statue. Once complete the statue be will be gifted to the town’s Winter Gardens.

Ibberson said: “I am extremely honoured to be asked to sculpt a lasting memorial of Eric & Ernie and it makes it even more special that I have the blessing and support of both families.

“I have created over 35 public sculptures in major locations throughout the UK but to reunite Eric and Ernie in their spiritual home of Blackpool will be the highlight of my career.”

The organising committee is comprised of John Barnet MBE, Elaine Smith MBE, and Charlie Cairoli Jr plus Tony Jo and Jim Cadman who, in 2008, successfully raised the money for the Les Dawson statue in Lytham St Anne’s. All surplus funds available after the statue has been paid for will be donated to the Tony Jo – Blackpool Hospital Cancer Appeal.

The fundraising programme begins with a Show Am Golf Day on Thursday 28 April 2016 at Herons Reach Championship Course, Blackpool when a plethora of celebrities from the world of show business and sport will tee off with teams of fans and admirers of Eric and Ernie.

Also taking place is the Morecambe and Wise 75th Anniversary Variety Show at Blackpool Opera House on Saturday 2 July 2016.

Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens, as Eric and Little Ern, will pay tribute to Eric and Ernie on the same stage they appeared on for the 1955 Royal Variety Show.

The pair launched their play Eric and Little Ern in 2013. Following a national tour it played to sell-out audiences in the West End and was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2014.

Ashpitel and Stephens said: “We are both are humbled by the positive reaction we have had from the theatre going public and from the many friends and admirers of Morecambe and Wise that we have met over the past three years.

“The thought of performing as Eric and Little Ern on stage at the world famous Opera House in Blackpool where Morecambe and Wise performed together so many times is a great honor and we are both hugely excited at the prospect of treading the same boards as they trod so often during their illustrious career.”

Other acts already confirmed for the show include Stephen Mulhern, Roy Walker, Mick Miller Ted Robbins, Joey Blower and the winner of our ‘Search for a Comedy Star’.

Eric Morecambe’s daughter Gail said: “Dad and Ernie would be very honoured and excited to know that the statue celebrating their 75th anniversary as a double act, is to be sited in the foyer of the magnificent Blackpool Winter Gardens. This is where they appeared in the 1955 Royal Variety Show. I was two years old!

“They went on to appear in many more Summer Seasons in Blackpool. We would live as a family for several weeks each year on the Flyde Coast. We witnessed firsthand the very special relationship Morecambe and Wise developed with both the residents and holiday makers that flocked to Blackpool every year.

“It is fair to say that Dad and Ernie considered Blackpool to be a professional feather in their caps and their spiritual home, having great affection for both place and people.”