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Night Train To Murder (ITV Comedy, Eric Morecambe, Ernie Wise)

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Night Train To Murder ITV Comedy, Eric Morecambe, Ernie Wise

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 (Lysette Anthony). 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.

Cast: 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

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

UK / ITV Network – Thames / 1×90 minute episode / Broadcast 3 January 1985