Night Train to Murder is the 1980’s swan song from TV legends Morecambe and Wise. When it begins it is 1946 and a pair of ageing musical hall entertainers, Eric and Ernie, are drawn into a murder mystery. The mystery is linked to a visit from Eric’s young neice Kathleen. After a visit from a solicitor Kathleen learns she is heir to a large fortune. Eric and Ernie travel up to the Scottish Highlands with her by night train. However it soon becomes apparant something strange is going on. Once they are at their castle rendezvous the murders begin…
The thriller opens with a great and somewhat bizarre to camera opening with Morecambe and Wise explaining that the funeral we are watching has nothing to do with the upcoming action! Definitely tongue in cheek with lots of classic M&W crosstalk. The plot channels everything from The Cat and The Canary to Agatha Christie. You can also see the influence of any number of spooky house mysteries from the golden age of Hollywood.
You’d have to put it down as something of a missed opportunity though. It looks cheaper than it should. Unusually it was completely shot on video whereas a film sheen would have made it much more effective. At times it looks too much like an extended sketch from the boys regular series. Lysette Anthony looks particularly gorgeous though. All in all the whole thing can be marked as very much a curates egg.
The character names were not featured on the screen credits. They were used in the TV listing magazines of the time though.
Incidentally other than an appearance in an episode of The Sweeney this was Morecambe and Wises’ only other bit of TV acting outside of their sketch shows.
Classic Morecambe and Wise quote
Ernie: That Zelda, did she ever kiss you?
Eric: No but she steamed my glasses up a couple of times.
UK / ITV Network – Thames / 1×90 minute episode / Broadcast 3 January 1985
Writers: Eric Morecambe, Ernie Wise, Joe McGrath / Idea: Rod McLaren, Jack Hobbs / Stunt Arranger: Derek Ware / Special Effects: Bill King / Costumes: Jill Silverside / Production Design: Peter Le Page / Executive Producer: Philip Jones / Producer and Director: Joe McGrath
ERIC MORECAMBE as Eric
ERNIE WISE as Ernie
MARGARET COURTENAY as Dame Flora Austin
KENNETH HAIGH as Milton Austin
FULTON MacKAY as Mr MacKay
PAMELA SALEM as Zelda Austin
RICHARD VERNON as Uncle Felix
LYSETTE ANTHONY as Kathleen Chalmers
ROGER BRIERLY as Rivers
EDWARD JUDD as The Great Manzini
LEONARD MAGUIRE as The Voice of Great Uncle Robert
BEN ARIS as Theatre Manager
TONY BONCZA as Joe
FRANK CODA as Stage Manager
BIG MIKE CRANE as Big Jim
ROBERT LONGDEN as Vicar
PENNY MEREDITH as Mrs Manzini
TIM STERN as Tiny Big Jim
ZOE NICHOLAS, MICHELLE TASCHER as Soubrettes