When Eric Morecambe appeared on stage dressed entirely in black, nursing a skull, even the slightly obtuse Ernie immediately realized what was in the offing: Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Death was no laughing matter. And when Morecambe and Wise debated the wisdom of switching to ‘the serious stuff’ like Shakespeare, they looked to their competitors Olivier and Gielgud, who played Shakespeare’s tragedies to packed houses every single week.
As Eric remarked in a mixture of envy and bemusement, ‘They charge £3 per seat . . . and they don’t get any laughs’.