In the run-up to World War Two, Ernie Wiseman, a precocious and confident child performer, is signed up by influential impresario Jack Hylton. In Morecambe, pushy stage mum Sadie Bartholomew drags her slightly reluctant son Eric, an eccentric dancer, from one audition to the next until he too becomes a client of Hylton. The boys do not get on at first but Sadie sees a way to exploit their cross-talk and they form a bantering double act as Morecambe and Wise. After war service they become successful on stage and on radio but their attempt to crack the new medium of television is a disaster because they have been forced to accept a script which will make their Northernness acceptable to Southern viewers. They split up. However Sadie knows the formula that once worked and pushes Eric, now married to dancer Joan, into contacting Ernie. They decide to reform, on their own terms, into the act that would become one of the most successful television pairings ever.