The Morecambe & Wise Christmas show was a British tradition in the 1970s. It was a watercooler event, long before we even had watercoolers. As Eric Morecambe might have said: “We didn’t have those when I was a kid. We just used to take turns hanging each other upside down from a bridge.”
The highlight of the show was usually a guest or guests – actors, musicians, newsreaders, serious people you just couldn’t imagine being in a comedy show, being made to look wonderfully foolish. Sleb cameos are all the rage nowadays, but back in the day it was outrageous.
They scored a real coup on this occasion in 1971, getting conductor Andre Previn. For all that the show seemed so casual, the boys rehearsed assiduously, and Eric was apparently very worried because Previn’s busy schedule only allowed for a quick readthrough. Watch for his delighted reaction when he realises that Previn is an absolute comic natural. Pow!
(There are some dated jokes in the intro, but stick with it…)
For pudding, here’s the great Shirley Bassey getting similar treatment – it’s miraculous that she didn’t corpse! Bassey did have a bit of a prickly diva reputation at the time, and this appearance turned that around. She apparently rates this as one of the “finest things she ever did”.