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Eddie Braben (born 31 October 1930 in Liverpoolmarker, England) is a comedy writer and performer who has provided material for such figures as David Frost and Ronnie Corbett, and who is most famous for having written for Ken Dodd and Morecambe and Wise.


Early life

As a child he was entranced by radio comedy and particularly that of Arthur Askey. After school he followed his parents into market trading, manning a fruit and veg stall. In spare moments he wrote jokes, frequently on the back of the brown paper bags he used to package his goods.

Personal life

Braben is married and lives in North Wales. He has three children and five grandchildren. His grandson, Owen Braben, is a TV producer at ITV

Joke writer

Although shy, he sent jokes to whichever comedians were appearing in Liverpool. His first was sold to Charlie Chester for 2s 6d, but his first major success was with Ken Dodd, with whom he worked for 12 years. Dodd's style was good training for Braben because his relentless delivery averaged around seven jokes a minute. Writing a five or 10-minute set was hard work.

Braben also worked on Round the Horne. Some confusion has emerged over Braben's role in the show, as the similarly named Edwin Braden performed on the show while Braben (more fully named Edwin C Braben) wrote for it.

Success

Morecambe and Wise

Braben's ultimate success came when the BBC lured Morecambe and Wise from ITV. Bill Cotton, then in charge of Light Entertainment at the BBC, was looking for a writer and asked Braben if he would like to try. Braben had seen Morecambe and Wise some years previously in music hall and thought they were terrible. In the intervening years, the duo had polished their act and were using Dick Hills and Sid Green to write their scripts. They had ended up with on-stage personas Braben says he did not like - Morecambe was "gormless" (a northern England phrase meaning stupid and unworldly), whereas Wise was tight-fisted with money, smart and hard-edged (they were not dissimilar to their older contemporaries Abbott and Costello in this respect).

Braben's first trick for the duo was to alter these characterisations. Though retaining his love of money, Wise became more naive and his egotism more innocent and less self-aware - while Morecambe became more worldly-wise and even protective of his friend, though still retaining a child-like innocence himself.

After meeting the duo, Braben noticed their friendship and aimed to bring this out at the same time as adding enough jokes to make it funny. He provided the idea of the two not only living together but also sharing a large double bed - something which would have been unthinkable in the case of their 'Hills and Green' characters but which, emphasising their closeness as well as their innocence, became a regular feature of the TV shows.

Braben found writing for Morecambe and Wise stressful, particularly with pressure to produce the high-profile Christmas Specials, each of which took months to rehearse and film. As a result, he suffered nervous illnesses, including hallucinations. In 1978 Morecambe and Wise were lured back to ITV - but Braben did not go with them because he was still under contract with the BBC. He would not rejoin them on ITV until the 1980s.

Other writing

Braben wrote and appeared in comedy radio shows for the BBC, including The Show With Ten Legs; he had been a radio scriptwriter and performer since 1975, when he wrote and starred in a BBC radio comedy series called The Worst Show On The Wireless. In style and form, Ten Legs harked back to the music-hall tradition - not least due to the presence of James Casey and Eli Woods, both former stage-colleagues and relatives of music-hall legend Jimmy James.

From 1982 to 1984 he joined Eli Woods and Alison Steadman in the UK radio show The Show with No Name for the 13 episodes which he wrote, in what can be described as an updated version of 'Round the Horne' comedy sketch show.

In 2001, Braben collaborated with Hamish McColl and Sean Foley to write The Play What I Wrote, a stage play and tribute to Morecambe, Wise and Braben, which opened in London's West Endmarker. The director was Kenneth Branagh.

In 2004, Braben's autobiography was published, entitled The Book What I Wrote

Awards

Morecambe, Wise and Braben formed what came to be known in the television industry as "The Golden Triangle". Together they won the Society of Film Television Artists 1973 award for Outstanding Contribution to Television. Braben won the Best British Light Entertainment Script award from the Writer's Guild of Great Britain in 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1973.

See also




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