Remembering the time funnyman Eric Morecambe failed to raise a laugh in Sheffield - and it was all do with two fingers and a statue

He’s a national treasure and one of one of our funniest, most loved entertainers ever.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 5:05 pm

But there was one infamous occasion when the wonderful Eric Morecambe failed to raise a chuckle in South Yorkshire – when he branded Sheffielders thick!

The letter from Steven Davis of West View Lane, Totley Rise, was about pop art sculptor Nicholas Munro and it mentioned that he was commissioned to do the sculpture.

Further investigation revealed the Sheffield link.

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Sheffield, 17th September 1971 Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

The 10ft 6ins fibreglass sculpture of the comic legends in their electric blue mohair suits showed Eric in trademark pose getting ready to slap Ernie's face and it was unveiled in Sheffield on July 1 1978, but ended up being vandalised and was given back to the sculptor, Nicholas Munro just six days later.

When Star reporter Clark Herron revealed to Eric that the sculpture had been damaged after two fingers were wrenched off Ernie's left hand Eric didn't see the funny side and labelled Sheffielders thick.

Well-known Luton Town fan Eric revealed that he didn't particularly like the statue anyway and said: "Ernie's fingers? Oh I didn't feel a thing. Now they know how I feel about Harry Haslam and Sheffield United.

"It's rather sad, isn't it? But that's the way we are, we British. Look at Argentina - two days of celebrating after they won the World Cup, and hardly a window broken. Here you get a small crowd and they practically rape a town.

Morecambe & Wise statue at Weston Park - July 1978

"We're thick. We're as thick as those two figures of Ernie and me. Nothing happened to it in London. "This shows what they are in Sheffield - they must be slightly thicker.

"If they send me the fingers I'll sign them."

According to the Morecambe and Wise website "the statue was commissioned in 1977 by the Arts Council to form part of the British Genius exhibition at Battersea Park, London.

"Sculptor Nick Munro,was invited to display it at a major sculpture exhibition in Regent Park, London.

A nine foot high bright blue fibreglass statue of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise by Nicholas Monro at the British Genuis Exhibition, London - 4th August 1977

""The local residents didn't like it there either and produced a petition to have Eric and Ern removed.

They called the statue ‘vulgar’, and in the end won the fight and it was moved.

"After a brief tour it finished up in Sheffield in July 1978 where local hooligans defaced them."

The statue had been due to spend six months in Sheffield.

The Eric Morecambe statue in Morecambe. A maquette made by the statue's sculptor Graham Ibbeson has sold for £6,000 at auction. Photo by Max Ibbeson.

Around 1980, the statue was given to furniture designer John Makepeace, who kept it in the grounds of Parnham House in Dorset for 20 years, until it was given back to Nick Munro and transported to a farm near Hungerford in Berkshire, where it was again damaged, this time after stones were thrown at Eric’s glasses.

The statue is now apparently in South Wales.