OPINION: Bob and Paul bringing sunshine into the bitter world of modern TV

 Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse are worthy of a modern day comparison to Morecambe and Wise, says Keith Skipper

Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse are worthy of a modern day comparison to Morecambe and Wise, says Keith Skipper - Credit: BBC/Owl Power

Right, let’s see if you’re getting the hang of this “New Year -Fresh Start” wave of optimism. What do you think of it so far?

Cue mass clearance of throats and ear-splitting chorus of “Rubbish!,” No, it won’t wash as renewed tribute to comedy kings Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise who brought so much sunshine and mutual affection into a cynical old world.

It will take far more than fond memories and a keen sense of humour to steer us through choppy medical, economic, social and environmental waters for a third testing year in a row.

I accept the emergence of a delightfully fresh M & W partnership angling for laughs and shared l enjoyment in the form of Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse has prompted a drop of welcome relief from an an ever-increasing tide of crude and cheap celebrity-infested “entertainment.”

However, we all know examples of such good-natured company will carry on being rare during an era when television schedules have slumped from dumbing-down to practically subterranean, Sadly, too much of it seems to reflect a bad-tempered society full of selfish, loud and crass behaviour.

Morecambe and Wise pictured at Great Yarmouth in the 1960s

Morecambe and Wise pictured at Great Yarmouth in the 1960s - Credit: Submitted

Inevitably, any semblance of “getting back to normal” during the coming months will merely mean more of the same from usual suspects who ignore sound advice about how to confront a global pandemic or even deny it ever existed despite all the grotesque evidence.

We’ve all had to reappraise our priorities and values and weigh up cherished principles during lockdowns, harsh restrictions surrounding long periods of home confinement and occasional self-isolation.

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As a “vulnerable” couple, my wife and I leant heavily on close family links, calm and thoughtful friends. Cromer Cares volunteers, including regular shopper “Lockdown Liz,” and tireless NHS workers and supporters helping us cope with individual health problems.

That’s the other side of a grumble-strewn hiatus stretching over two years … the number of good people, going the extra mile, giving that extra smile and turning on the neighbourly style.

A bit unfair, perhaps, but I couldn’t help but contrast them with a miserable cavalcade of moaners and moochers drifting aimlessly around Cromer on a dark and damp afternoon during one of those grim interludes wedged between Christmas and New Year.

I didn’t ask but they wore the looks of sports supporters who had big money riding on England winning the Ashes down under and the Canaries avoiding relegation from the Premier League.

Such observations on the droll side had dotted pages throughout the first 38 volumes of my comprehensive personal diaries, feeling Norfolk’s pulse on a daily basis since the dawn of 1984.

Yes, George Orwell may well have inspired such a full-time habit - although starting this marathon just a year after getting married did spark scurrilous rumours of a ruse to get out of the washing-up.

That sat nicely alongside comments four years later about moving the family seat to Cromer so I could be sure of meeting someone older than me every day.

Well, that little theory ran out of steam after three decades of concentrating on the way sea and sky provide an ever-changing backcloth for casual strolling and deep thinking. Cromer can cope with most tastes and moods while offering bracing clifftop walks as a tasty bonus.

I have recorded, ruminated and resolved as a matter of course. I did occasionally wonder why it had become an obsession to remind myself of blatant prejudices and unfading joys. It has not been an exercise to curry favour with the likes of Oscar Wilde, who hinted one should keep a diary and so always have something sensational to read on the train.

That wouldn’t impress anyone on the Bitter Line between the north Norfolk coast and Norwich, although gasps and guffaws might annoy serious souls sending or receiving classified information non a mobile phone.

Sadly, social rounds and any sort of trip out of town came to a full stop during the summer of 2021 as personal health concerns and domestic duties dominated our household. Step 39 of my great diaries journey e juddered to a halt at the end of August So, there’s a gaping hole accusing me of neglect as that incomplete volume take its place alongside all the other missions fulfilled.

Least I can do to start making amends for this obvious blot on my recollections record is resume some sort of daily dip into scribbling waters as I continue to grow old gratefully.

Perhaps I’ll be back in the old routine by the time sea breezes set imaginations stirring and daffodils bouncing.

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