Ern’s less than delighted with Eric’s Christmas present to him – a pair of socks that Eric has just removed from his own feet. When Ern complains that they’re still warm, Eric explains that he was airing them for him. Ern’s present to Eric is much more impressive – a silver fob watch, although Eric isn’t pleased when he opens it up and it plays the Colonel Bogey march. There might be a reason why this would have offended him, but it’s a bit of a mystery to me (presumably a topical reference).
Later on, Eric plans to do something different – sawing a woman in half. When he asks Ern to get into the box, Ern protests that he isn’t a woman, to which Eric replies, “I haven’t used the saw yet”. Luckily, there’s a diversion – Peter Cushing turns up, still looking for his fee from his appearance as King Arthur several years ago. It’s always a pleasure to see Cushing and they’d certainly get some mileage from this running gag over the years. His appearance here gives Eric the chance to “saw a Peter Cushing in half”.
Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen perform Hello Dolly with a few changed lyrics welcoming Eric and Ernie back (my first thought was that this was something to do with Eric’s heart attack, but the dates don’t match so I’m not sure why Kenny changed the words).
The flat sketch features Eric cooking Christmas dinner for Ern and their guest Ann Hamilton. Ann Hamilton was such a good utility player for M&W, able to pitch in and play a wide variety of roles over many years. There’s an interesting interview with her here.
Next, Eric and Ernie are joined by Eric Porter, much to Eric’s alarm (“A drunk’s just come on. Play it cool. Don’t worry about it”). Eventually they twig that he’s not a drunk but the famous actor Eric Porter, although Eric’s still not happy (“We don’t want him on. He was rotten the last time”). They then all perform a song and dance act, which allows Porter to demonstrate his hoofing skills. This was always one of the pleasures of the M&W show – watching familiar faces demonstrating unfamiliar skills.
Nina’s back and like Shirley Bassey the following year, she performs two songs – one straight and the other with “help” from Eric and Ernie. She should have realised there’d be trouble when they told her they’d built a special set just for her …..
The stars keep coming, with a special appearance by John Wayne – although he looks a little different from his big screen appearances (see picture seven below). And then a real star turns up – Edward Woodward. It’s difficult to tell if he’s genuinely a little ill at ease or if he’s playing at being irritated – I’d assume the later, since numerous interviews over the years seemed to indicate that he had a healthy sense of humour.
He’s not come on to act though – instead he wants to sing, which he does (performing The Way You Look Tonight). Although it’s something of a footnote to his career now, he had some success as a recording artist as well as a short-lived Thames series (The Edward Woodward Hour) where he was able to demonstrate his vocal talents.
William Franklyn joins Eric and Ernie for barely controlled chaos in the closing skit, loosely adapted from The Three Musketeers.
The 1970 Christmas Show was a step up from 1969, and the 1971 Show would be better still.