I WAS never lucky enough to see Morecambe and Wise live, but in many ways a night at The Lowry watching Eric and Ern at Christmas has made up for that.

Beforehand it was hard to imagine how anyone could replicate the chemistry, camaraderie and sheer genius of the legendary comedy duo.

Even once the show had started I was a bit sceptical about how they could make it work.

But there was a point midway through the first half when something clicked for me.

It involved ‘Ern’ singing and a set of bongos. Tears streamed down my face and I was laughing so hard for a few seconds my lungs couldn’t distinguish between that and breathing.

From that moment, in a giddy sense of nostalgia, it was like watching the original Morecambe and Wise on stage.

Jonty Stephens (Eric) and Ian Ashpitel (Ernie) put it down to the decades they have known each other, but there is no shortage of talent and comic timing between the two of them, as well as the loving touch of the show’s curator, Gary Morecambe, Eric’s son.

The fact the actors look so much like Morecambe and Wise helps the illusion.

Jonty, in particular, has all of Eric’s glasses wiggling quirks, mannerisms and snort-filled chuckles off to a tee.

There are cameo appearances from guest vocalist Rebecca Neale, who belted out Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas. And, a la Dame Shirley Bassey, she clearly did not mind being the butt of Eric & Ern’s jokes, most notably with her rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns. You can imagine how the rest of that sketch goes.

The second half whizzes by amid more fits of laughter, the iconic invisible ball in paper bag sketch, before ending with Bring Me Sunshine.

Stephens and Ashpitel radiate it from start to finish.

Ben Elton is quoted on the show’s flyer: “I never thought I would see Morecambe and Wise live. I think I just have!”.

He’s absolutely spot on.

The show runs until January 6