Lost Morecambe and Wise episode to be shown in colour on Christmas Day

Morecambe and Wise during a sketch (Getty Images)
Morecambe and Wise during a sketch (Getty Images)

A long-lost episode of Morecambe and Wise will be broadcast by the BBC this Christmas, after being discovered in an attic by Eric Morecambe’s son.

Gary Morecambe found seven canisters in the attic of his mother’s house in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, while searching for old scripts last year.

After they were sent off by his agent to be examined, experts realised they contained film, including the lost episode which has since been colourised by the BBC. It had originally been wiped from the broadcaster’s archive so the tape could be used for other programmes.

Dating from 1970, the 45-minute show marked the beloved comedy duo’s first for BBC One.

Gary Morecambe said the newly unearthed episode – which contains a sketch about a radio call-in challenge – represents “a golden era of television”, and that he had been “staggered” when he received confirmation that the episode was salvageable.

“But I didn't realise at that point how far the BBC would go to present it,” he said. “That it would then get colourised, which is fantastic, so it's been brought bang up to date.

“And also what's really good is the quality of the show itself, you can see the embryonic Morecambe and Wise come through.”

Morecambe and Wise in 1980 (Getty Images)
Morecambe and Wise in 1980 (Getty Images)

He continued: “It's a bit like when they found something of Tony Hancock and Dad's Army, these are important pieces from the golden era of television so to find something that was presumed wiped, and has been sitting in an attic for 50-odd years, that is very exciting and very important.”

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise remain one of the most popular comedy duos in British TV history. They made their debut as a double act in 1941, developing increasingly complex skits, characters and routines over the years. Their fourth and final TV series for the BBC aired in 1978.

Morecambe died in 1984, aged 58, while Wise died in 1999, aged 73.

The lost episode airs on BBC Two at 7.45pm on Christmas Day, and will be preceded by the duo’s 1971 Christmas show featuring Andre Previn, Glenda Jackson and Shirley Bassey.

Additional reporting by Press Association