by Mark Nobes, chief editor

For this post, I'm going to be taking a look back at some of the British comedy duos that were on our TV screens back in the 1980s. You may have loved them or loathed them, but you will certainly remember them!
My favourite pairings were The Two Ronnies and Alas Smith & Jones, and although Laurel and Hardy had both passed away by the time I was born, the repeats of their brilliant comedy films from the 1920s and 30s graced our screens throughout the 70s and into the 80s. You can read about all of these on separate pages on this site. So let's takes a look at a few more of them...

Morecambe & Wise

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise are, no doubt, the best known comedy duo to feature on this page, and anyone who grew-up in the 60s, 70s and 80s will certainly remember their comedy shows, which are still being repeated today. The Morecambe & Wise Show aired on BBC1 from 1968 until 1977, before moving to ITV (Thames Television) from 1978 to 1983. You may also remember their Radio 2 show which aired from 1975 to 1978. 

Eric played the bumbling comic, with Ernie being the straight man. Each of their shows featured a well-known guest star, comedy sketches and a comedy dance or musical routine - one of the funniest and best-known routines was when they performed Singing in the Rain, with poor Eric getting several soakings!

The duo also made four feature films, although they were panned by many critics. These were The Intelligence Man (1965), That Riviera Touch (1966), The Magnificent Two (1967) and Night Train To Murder (1985). Despite being completed in late 1983, the movie was not shown until Jan 3rd 1985 on ITV, after Eric Morecambe's sad death on 29th May 1984. 

Morecambe and Wise

"Morecambe and Wise" by Père Ubu is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/


Gareth Hale and Norman Pace first appeared on our TV screen on a one-off Christmas '86 show for LWT. They were so successful that they were given their own TV series which ran for ten years from 1988 until 1998. Before this, the duo had a successful radio series on Radio 4, and also worked the clubs as a comedy band.

Their outrageous style of comedy was definitely very different to what we have grown used to in the 70s, so much so that they were definitely not suitable for being shown before the watershed! Indeed, the 80s saw a whole new wave of alternative comedy styles appearing on mainstream TV.

Hale & Pace were usually screened at 10pm on a Sunday night, and some of their sketches proved to be rather controversial - this probably contributed to higher viewing figures!

One of their most controversial sketches involved putting a cat into a microwave - not a real one, of course!


This video clip is from the eighties BBC TV series The Krankies Electronik Komic.

The Krankies were husband and wife Janette and Ian Tough. This Scottish duo appeared regularly on UK TV screens throughout the 80's until 1991, when they went into semi-retirement, mainly appearing in pantomime. They still do pantomime today, and appeared on the Paul O' Grady Show in 2008.

There catchphrase was "Fan'dabi'dozi", and they actually released a single using the catchphrase as the title in 1981. Sadly for them (gladly for everyone else!) it only reached No.46 in the UK charts. Go to the "Worst Songs Of The 80s" page.        

You may remember their BBC TV series The Krankies Electronik Komic.

The Krankies Annual 1983


The Krankies in the 1980s
Wee Jimmy Krankie (left) and Jimmy Krankie at Stanah County Primary School in Thornton, Lancashire, in the 1980s. By Dudesleeper (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons



Little and Large

Little and Large were never considered to be in the same league as The Two Ronnies or Morecambe and Wise. The critics gave them a hard time, but they still managed to appear on our TV screens with their own show for 14 years, which was a pretty decent innings.

Syd Little and Eddie Large first appeared on our TV screens on Opportunity Knocks, before they were given their own TV show on ITV through Thames Television in 1977.

In 1978, they moved over to BBC1 where their show ran from 1978 until 1991. Like so many 70s and 80s comedians, their brand of humour had become too dated, and a whole crop of new, cutting-edge (and foul-mouthed) comedians began to take over the TV screens during the 1990s.

Syd and Eddie were ideal entertainment for the family to watch together on a Saturday teatime during the 70s and 80s. The large guy pushing the thin guy around routine had been done before (comedy legends Laurel and Hardy spring to mind), but it worked for them and gave them many years of success.

Photograph of Susie Silvey with Little and Large in the 1980s

Little and Large with actress, dancer and model Susan "Susie" Silvey in the 1980s. Public Domain image.

Syd Little and Eddie Large in the 80s