In 1941 they were each booked separately to appear in Jack Hylton's revue, Youth Takes a Bow at the Nottingham Empire Theatre. War service broke up the act but they reunited by chance at the Swansea Empire Theatre in 1946. They made their name in variety, appearing in a variety circus, the Windmill Theatre, the Glasgow Empire and many venues around Britain. After this they also made their name in radio, transferring to television in 1954. Their show, Running Wild, was not well received and led to a damning newspaper review: "Definition of the week: TV set – the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise." Eric apparently carried this review around with him ever after and from then on Eric and Ernie kept a tight control over their material. In 1956 they were offered a spot in the Winifred Atwell show with material written by Johnny Speight and this was a success.
They had a series of shows that spanned over twenty years (Running Wild, BBC, 1954; writers Leonard Fincham, Lawrie Wyman. Two of a Kind, ATV, 1961–1968; writers: Dick Hills and Sid Green. The Morecambe & Wise Show, BBC, 1968–1977; writers: Hills and Green for one series, and thereafter Eddie Braben. The Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise Show, BBC Radio 2, 1975-1978; writer: Eddie Braben. The Morecambe & Wise Show, Thames Television, 1978 until their final show together at Christmas 1983; writers: themselves, Barry Cryer, John Junkin, and from 1980, Eddie Braben.) during which time they developed and honed their act, most notably after moving to the BBC in 1968, where they were to be teamed with their long-term writer Eddie Braben. It is this period of their careers that is widely regarded as their "glory days."
The pair starred in three feature films during the 1960s—The Intelligence Men (1965), That Riviera Touch (1966), and The Magnificent Two (1967). In 1983 they made their last film, Night Train To Murder.
Night Train to Murder is a 1984 British comedy film directed by Joseph McGrath and starring Morecambe and Wise. It was the last work that Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise worked on together before Eric's death in 1984, Morecambe being in poor health at the time of filming. It was written as a pastiche of the works of various writers including Agatha Christie and Edgar Wallace and is set in 1946, featuring Morecambe and Wise ostensibly as 1940s versions of themselves.
The duo's move from the BBC to Thames in 1978 was a much publicised media event, and one of the main reasons for their move was to make films and move away from the format of the Morecambe & Wise Show that had proved so popular in the last decade. The film was completed in late 1983 but not shown until after Morecambe's death the following year. It was originally made with a laughter track but when shown, and later released on both VHS and DVD this was absent.
The film features a plot of family members dying in strange circumstances and the two leads are drawn into this when Eric's niece Kathy (Lysette Anthony) is visited by the family's lawyer, played by Fulton Mackay. It was made largely on location and produced on video tape. The closing moments of the film see Eric and Ernie walking off together, onto the next gig, making it their final screen image together.
Also appearing: Lysette Anthony, Edward Judd, Margaret Courtenay, and Kenneth Haigh.