The Queen places Eric on a pedestal

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The Independent Online
IT IS 15 years since Eric Morecambe died, but the pose familiar to his millions of fans - arm waving, leg cocked to one side - is now immortalised in bronze on the sea front of his birthplace, Morecambe.

The Queen yesterday unveiled a statue of the late and much-missed comedian, partner of Ernie Wise. It shows him in the pose that accompanied the duo's rendition of "Bring Me Sunshine", the theme tune which ended their shows.

Morecambe was born John Eric Bartholomew in 1926, but adopted the name of his home town for his showbusiness career. Yesterday thousands lined the promenade, underlining the place that he still occupies in the nation's affections.

Morecambe's widow, Joan Bartholomew, and their children, Gary, Gail and Stephen, were present. "Eric would have been staggered," said Mrs Bartholomew.

The statue shows Morecambe wearing binoculars. He was a keen bird-watcher.

Buckingham Palace said that the Queen accepted the invitation to the town because she and the Duke of Edinburgh had long-standing engagements in the area. But the royal couple are known to have been great fans of Morecambe and Wise and, given the Queen's packed schedule, yesterday was a rare honour. The last statue that she unveiled was of Winston Churchill, in Paris in November last year.

The 6ft 7in statue of Morecambe was sculpted by a Yorkshire-based artist, Graham Ibbeson. It is surrounded by the names of the 103 guests who appeared on the Morecambe and Wise television show over the years. Some of them were in attendance, including the broadcaster Sir Robin Day and the actor Frank Finlay.

Morecambe died in 1984 after collapsing on stage with a heart attack; Wise died earlier this year.