Morecambe and Wise act 'good mates'

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise impersonators Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens have revealed that their friendship mirrors that of the comedy duo.

15f95858-51e1-11e3-ab8c-0a0c02230000
Jonty Stephens (left) and Ian Ashpitel (right) play Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in the Eric And Little Ern stage show

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise impersonators Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens have revealed that their friendship mirrors that of the comedy duo.

Ian and Jonty, who portray the funnymen in their West End show Eric And Little Ern, admitted their relationship also goes back many years before they started on the stage.

Ian, who plays Ern, said: "We've been friends for 30 years - we were friends for 20 years before we did this and our relationship has got stronger. T his has brought us closer than we ever were.

"It's like the boys - they had this working friendship. What made them funny, enduring and made them work is their relationship. "

Jonty, who portrays Eric, added: "What is great is the trust we have in each other. There's absolutely implicit trust. There's no shadow of a doubt we're in this together. And that's Eric and Ernie."

Their stage show, which is on at the Vaudeville Theatre in London, recreates some of Morecambe and Wise's finest moments on TV and stage, with new material created by the performers.

"We're shining a light on Morecambe and Wise's talent. A lot of people have discovered Morecambe and Wise for the first time and that is such a thrill," Ian explained.

The idea for a stage show came from Jonty, a "life-long" fan of the comic pair.

"This shows why Morecambe and Wise's humour have survived for so long. Fundamentally, they are hilariously funny and there will never be anyone like them again," he said.

"The love that you feel coming from the audience is quite extraordinary. They were so loved and so respected, so we're very privileged to be playing them and we hope to do them justice," he added.