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Ronnie Barker

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Ronald William George "Ronnie" Barker, OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005) was a British actor, comedian, writer, critic, broadcaster and businessman. He was known for his roles in various British comedy television series, such as The Frost Report
The Frost Report
The Frost Report was a satirical television show hosted by David Frost. It ran for 29 episodes from 1966 to 1967. It is most notable for introducing John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett to television and also launching the careers of several comedians and performers.The main cast were...

, Porridge
Porridge (TV series)
Porridge is a British situation comedy broadcast on BBC1 from 1974 to 1977, running for three series, two Christmas specials and a feature film. Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, it stars Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale as two inmates at the fictional HMP Slade in Cumberland...

, The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies is a British sketch show that aired on BBC1 from 1971 to 1987. It featured the double act of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, the "Two Ronnies" of the title.-Origins:...

 and Open All Hours
Open All Hours
Open All Hours is a BBC sitcom written by Roy Clarke which ran for four series a first run in 1976, a second run in 1981, third in 1982 and finally with a fourth run in 1985, with a pilot episode from the Seven of One series in 1973...

.

He began his acting career in repertory theatre and decided he was best suited to performing comic roles. Barker gained his first acting successes at the Oxford Playhouse and later in various roles in the West End including Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard
Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL is a British playwright, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and...

's The Real Inspector Hound
The Real Inspector Hound
The Real Inspector Hound is a short, one-act play by Tom Stoppard. The plot follows two theatre critics named Moon and Birdboot who are watching a ludicrous setup of a country house murder mystery, in the style of a whodunit...

. During this period, he became a cast member on BBC radio and television comedy programmes such as The Navy Lark. Barker got his television break with the satirical sketch series The Frost Report
The Frost Report
The Frost Report was a satirical television show hosted by David Frost. It ran for 29 episodes from 1966 to 1967. It is most notable for introducing John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett to television and also launching the careers of several comedians and performers.The main cast were...

 in 1966 where he met future collaborator Ronnie Corbett
Ronnie Corbett
Ronald Balfour "Ronnie" Corbett, OBE is a Scottish actor and comedian of Scottish and English parentage who had a long association with Ronnie Barker in the British television comedy series The Two Ronnies...

. He joined David Frost
David Frost
Sir David Frost is a British broadcaster.David Frost may also refer to:*David Frost , South African golfer*David Frost , classical record producer*David Frost *Dave Frost, baseball pitcher...

's production company and was to star in a number ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 shows including a short film during this period.

After rejoining the BBC Barker found fame with the sketch show The Two Ronnies (1971—1986) with Ronnie Corbett. After the series of pilots called Seven of One, he gained starring roles in the sitcoms Porridge, its sequel Going Straight and Open All Hours. Apart from being a performer, he was noted as a comedy writer both under his own name and the pseudonym Gerald Wiley, which Barker adopted to avoid pre-judgements of his talent. Barker won the BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Performance four times, amongst other awards, and received an OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 1978.

Later television sitcoms such as The Magnificent Evans
The Magnificent Evans
The Magnificent Evans is a 1984 BBC situation comedy written by Roy Clarke and starring Ronnie Barker, Sharon Morgan and Myfanwy Talog.-Plot:...

 and Clarence
Clarence (TV series)
Clarence is a 1988 BBC situation comedy starring Ronnie Barker and Josephine Tewson, written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym "Bob Ferris". It was Barker's final sitcom appearance before his retirement....

 were less successful and he decided to retire in 1987. After his retirement, he opened an antiques shop with his wife, Joy. After 1997, he appeared in a number of smaller, non-comic roles in films. Barker died of heart failure on 3 October 2005, aged 76.

Early life



Barker was born on 25 September 1929 in Bedford
Bedford
Bedford is the county town of Bedfordshire, in the East of England. It is a large town and the administrative centre for the wider Borough of Bedford. According to the former Bedfordshire County Council's estimates, the town had a population of 79,190 in mid 2005, with 19,720 in the adjacent town...

, Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire is a ceremonial county of historic origin in England that forms part of the East of England region.It borders Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west and Hertfordshire to the south-east....

, to Leonard and Edith Barker. His father was a clerk for Shell Oil. He had two sisters, Vera and Eileen. The family moved to Cowley, Oxfordshire when Barker was four. As a child, Barker enjoyed dressing up and developed a love of the theatre, often attending plays with his family. The first play he saw was Cottage to Let
Cottage to Let
Cottage to Let is a 1941 spy film starring Leslie Banks, Alastair Sim and John Mills. Set in World War II Scotland, its plot concerns Nazi spies trying to kidnap an inventor.-Plot:...

 and he once skipped school in order to see Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

 in Henry V
Henry V (play)
Henry V is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to be written in approximately 1599. Its full titles are The Cronicle History of Henry the Fifth and The Life of Henry the Fifth...

. He frequently stood outside stage-doors to collect autographs, his first being the actress Celia Johnson
Celia Johnson
Dame Celia Elizabeth Johnson DBE was an English actress.She began her stage acting career in 1928, and subsequently achieved success in West End and Broadway productions. She also appeared in several films, including the romantic drama Brief Encounter , for which she received a nomination for the...

. Barker attended Donnington Junior School and then the City of Oxford High School for Boys
City of Oxford High School for Boys
The City of Oxford High School for Boys was founded in 1881 by Thomas Hill Green to provide Oxford boys with an education which would enable them to prepare for University.-History:...

. Barker's chemistry textbook at Oxford was previously owned by T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...

.

He found his talent for humour at school and developed his musical ability by singing in the choir at St James', his local church. He got in to the sixth form a year early after gaining the School Certificate
School Certificate (UK)
The School Certificate was a United Kingdom educational attainment standard qualification, established in 1918. The School Certificate Examination was usually taken at age 16 and it was necessary to pass Mathematics, English and other subjects in order to gain the certificate...

 but he felt what he was learning would be of no use to him in later life and so left as soon as he could. After leaving school he trained as an architect but gave it up after six months, feeling he was not skilled enough. Barker took his sister Vera's job as a bank clerk at the Westminster Bank
Westminster Bank
Westminster Bank was a British retail bank which operated in England and Wales from 1834 until its merger into the National Westminster Bank in 1970; it remains a registered company but is dormant...

 (after she had left to become a nurse). Barker harboured dreams of becoming an actor. He worked in amateur dramatics for 18 months while at the bank, as an actor and stage manager, making his first appearance in A Murder Has Been Arranged as the musical director of the play-within-a-play. Eventually he gave up his job to become a professional actor. His father was not supportive of his acting ambition.

Theatrical career


Barker failed to get into the Young Vic School, but joined the Manchester Repertory Company, which was based in Aylesbury
Aylesbury
Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire in South East England. However the town also falls into a geographical region known as the South Midlands an area that ecompasses the north of the South East, and the southern extremities of the East Midlands...

, often taking comic roles in their weekly shows. Initially he was employed as the assistant to the assistant stage manager, earning £2.10 a week. He made his debut as a professional actor on November 15, 1948 as Lieutenant Spicer in a performance of J. M. Barrie
J. M. Barrie
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright...

's Quality Street
Quality Street (play)
Quality Street is a comedy in four acts by J. M. Barrie, written before his more famous work Peter Pan. The story is about two sisters who start a school "for genteel children"....

. He went on to play the organist in When We Are Married
When We Are Married
When We Are Married is a 1938 play by English dramatist, J. B. Priestley. It is the first play ever to be televised unedited from a theatre.-Productions:* 1938 World premiere, London, England* 16 November 1938 BBC live telecast...

 and by his third role, the chauffeur Charles in Miranda, Barker realised he wanted to be a comic actor. He was described as "ha[ving] the talent to be a great straight actor", but noted: "I want to make people laugh. Never mind about Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

. Forget Richard the Second
Richard the Second
Richard the Second is a 2001 American film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Richard II, directed by John Farrell. This production is the first American feature film based on this Shakespeare play.- Production history :...

. Give me Charley's Aunt
Charley's Aunt
Charley's Aunt is a farce in three acts written by Brandon Thomas. It broke all historic records for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466 performances....

. My mission in life was now crystal clear." He appeared in stages adaptations of Treasure Island
Treasure Island
Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "pirates and buried gold". First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881–82 under the title Treasure Island; or, the...

 and Red Riding Hood before getting his first leading role in The Guinea Pig
The Guinea Pig (Chetham-Strode)
The Guinea Pig is a 3 Act play by Warren Chetham-Strode. The work premiered on London's West End at the Criterion Theatre in 1946 and starred Rachel Gurney as Lynne Hartley. An immense success, the play was soon adapted into a 1948 film starring Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim....

 as a working class boy at a public school. When the production moved to Rhyl
Rhyl
Rhyl is a seaside resort town and community situated on the north east coast of Wales, in the county of Denbighshire , at the mouth of the River Clwyd . To the west is the suburb of Kinmel Bay, with the resort of Towyn further west, Prestatyn to the east and Rhuddlan to the south...

, Barker followed. The Manchester Repertory Company closed, as did the Rhyl company shortly after. Barker, aged 20, then spent some time as a porter at Wingfield Hospital; he became distressed through his contact with polio patients and so opted to take on the persona of "Charlie" so as not to be himself. He and a male nurse often entertained the patients with comedy routines. He found work at the Mime Theatre Company, performing mimed folk music and dance, which soon folded in Penzance
Penzance
Penzance is a town, civil parish, and port in Cornwall, England, in the United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is approximately 75 miles west of Plymouth and 300 miles west-southwest of London...

. He made his way back to Oxford and then worked in Bramhall
Bramhall
Bramhall is a suburb of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, in Greater Manchester, England. It has a population of about 25,500.Research by the University of Sheffield has placed Bramhall as the "least lonely" place in Britain. Bramhall is also regarded as an affluent area where most residents...

 for The Famous Players. There he met actor Glenn Melvyn; the two became firm friends and Barker stated Melvyn taught him everything he "ever learned about comedy."

He joined the Oxford Playhouse in 1951 and worked there for three years, appearing in plays such as He Who Gets Slapped
He Who Gets Slapped
He Who Gets Slapped is a 1924 film starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, and John Gilbert. It was directed by Victor Sjöström. The film is based on the Russian play Тот, кто получает пощёчины by playwright Leonid Andreyev, which was published in 1914 and in English, as He Who Gets Slapped, in 1922...

 as the clown. Peter Hall worked with Barker at Oxford and gave him his break, casting him as the Chantyman and Joe Silva in his production of Mourning Becomes Electra
Mourning Becomes Electra
Mourning Becomes Electra is a play cycle written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill. The play premiered on Broadway at the Guild Theatre on 26 October 1931 where it ran for 150 performances before closing in March 1932...

 at the Arts Theatre
Arts Theatre
The Arts Theatre is a theatre in Great Newport Street, in Westminster, Central London. It now operates as the West End's smallest commercial receiving house.-History:...

 in London's West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 in 1955. By the time he had made it to the West End, Barker had appeared in an estimated 350 plays. Barker remained a West End actor for several years, appearing in numerous plays between 1955 and 1968. These included, in 1955, two performances each night as he played a gypsy in Listen to the Wind at the Arts Theatre and then a peasant in Summertime later in the evening. Other roles included Mr Thwaites in Double Image in 1956 (with Olivier), Camino Real
Camino Real (play)
Camino Real is a 1953 play by Tennessee Williams. In the introduction to the Penguin edition of the play, Williams directs the reader to use the Anglicized pronunciation "Cá-mino Réal." The play takes its title from its setting, alluded to El Camino Real, a dead-end place in a Spanish-speaking town...

 (directed by Hall) in 1957, French gangster Robertoles-Diams in Irma La Douce
Irma La Douce (musical)
Irma La Douce is a musical with music by Marguerite Monnot and French lyrics and book by Alexandre Breffort. The English lyrics and book are by Julian More, David Heneker and Monty Norman. It was first produced in Paris in 1956.-Productions:...

 for two years from 1958, Lord Slingsby-Craddock in Mr Whatnot in 1964 and Birdboot in The Real Inspector Hound
The Real Inspector Hound
The Real Inspector Hound is a short, one-act play by Tom Stoppard. The plot follows two theatre critics named Moon and Birdboot who are watching a ludicrous setup of a country house murder mystery, in the style of a whodunit...

 in 1968. He also appeared in several Royal Court Theatre
Royal Court Theatre
The Royal Court Theatre is a non-commercial theatre on Sloane Square, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is noted for its contributions to modern theatre...

 productions, including A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that was written by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta...

 as Quince.

Early media career


Barker's theatrical success enabled him to move in to radio work. Barker, who had previously been known by his birth name "Ronald", was now referred to as the shortened form "Ronnie", after a director changed it in the credits, although he did not tell Barker. His first radio appearance was in 1956, playing Lord Russett in Floggit's. He went on to play multiple characters, but primarily the lookout Able Seaman 'Fatso' Johnson and Lieutenant-Commander Stanton, in The Navy Lark
The Navy Lark
The Navy Lark was a radio sit-com about life aboard a British Royal Navy frigate named HMS Troutbridge, based in HMNB Portsmouth, though in series 1 and 2 the ship and crew were stationed offshore at an unnamed location known simply as "The Island." In series 2 this island was revealed to be...

, a navy based sitcom
Situation comedy
A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue...

 on the BBC Light Programme
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the United Kingdom. Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is best described as Adult Contemporary or AOR, although the station is also noted for its specialist broadcasting of other musical genres...

, which ran from 1959 to 1977, with Barker featuring in some 300 episodes. He also featured in the show's radio spin-off The TV Lark as Fatso Johnson, a camera operator, and as a trainee chef in Crowther's Crowd in 1963, and had roles on Variety Playhouse. Barker soon began working in film and television. His first acting job on television was in Melvyn's show I'm Not Bothered. He appeared in various roles in the comedy series The Seven Faces of Jim
Faces of Jim
Faces of Jim was a black-and-white British comedy television series starring Jimmy Edwards, June Whitfield and Ronnie Barker, with each episode being an individual half-hour sitcom. The first series aired as The Seven Faces of Jim, the second as Six More Faces of Jim and the third series as More...

 from 1962, alongside Jimmy Edwards
Jimmy Edwards
Jimmy Edwards DFC was an English comedic script writer and comedy actor on both radio and television, best known as Pa Glum in Take It From Here and as the headmaster 'Professor' James Edwards in Whack-O!-Biography:...

 and June Whitfield
June Whitfield
June Rosemary Whitfield, CBE is an English actress, well known in the United Kingdom since the 1950s for roles in radio and television comedy series....

, as well as parts in Bold as Brass and Foreign Affairs (as the Russian ambassador Grischa Petrovitch). This was followed with dramatic parts in A Tale of Two Cities as Jerry Cruncher in 1965 as well as single episode roles in The Saint
The Saint (TV series)
The Saint was an ITC mystery spy thriller television series that aired in the UK on ITV between 1962 and 1969. It centred on the Leslie Charteris literary character, Simon Templar, a Robin Hood-like adventurer with a penchant for disguise. The character may be nicknamed The Saint because the...

 and The Avengers
The Avengers (TV series)
The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series set in the 1960s Britain. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel and his assistant John Steed . Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants...

, in which he played Cheshire, a cat lover. He also appeared in films such as Doctor in Distress
Doctor in Distress (film)
Doctor in Distress is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Dirk Bogarde, James Robertson Justice, and Samantha Eggar. It was the fifth film in the Doctor Series...

 (1963), Father Came Too!
Father Came Too!
Father Came Too! is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Peter Graham Scott. It is a sequel to The Fast Lady.-Plot:Dexter and Juliet Munro are a married couple who move to a run-down cottage in hopes of escaping from Juliet's overbearing father. However, the couple are soon confronted by their...

 (1963) and A Home of Your Own
A Home of Your Own
A Home of Your Own is a 1964 British comedy film which is a brick-by-brick account of the building a young couple’s dream house. From the day when the site is first selected, to the day – several years and children later – when the couple finally move in, the story is a noisy but wordless comedy of...

 (1965).

In 1966, Barker got his break with the satirical sketch series The Frost Report
The Frost Report
The Frost Report was a satirical television show hosted by David Frost. It ran for 29 episodes from 1966 to 1967. It is most notable for introducing John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett to television and also launching the careers of several comedians and performers.The main cast were...

, having been recommended for the show by producer James Gilbert. The show starred David Frost
David Frost
Sir David Frost is a British broadcaster.David Frost may also refer to:*David Frost , South African golfer*David Frost , classical record producer*David Frost *Dave Frost, baseball pitcher...

, John Cleese
John Cleese
John Marwood Cleese is an English actor, comedian, writer, and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report...

 and Barker's future comedy partner Ronnie Corbett
Ronnie Corbett
Ronald Balfour "Ronnie" Corbett, OBE is a Scottish actor and comedian of Scottish and English parentage who had a long association with Ronnie Barker in the British television comedy series The Two Ronnies...

, whom he had met in 1963 when Corbett was the barman at the Buckstone Club near Haymarket Theatre
Haymarket Theatre
The Theatre Royal Haymarket is a West End theatre in the Haymarket in the City of Westminster which dates back to 1720, making it the third-oldest London playhouse still in use...

, and the two became friends. Corbett stated in his autobiography that the two had gravitated towards each other because of their similar backgrounds; neither had attended university, while many of the other Frost Report cast and writers had. Each episode of the show, which was performed and broadcast live, was focused on a single topic and principally revolved around a continuous monologue from Frost, with sketches from Barker, Corbett and Cleese as the show went on. Barker starred alongside Cleese and Corbett in The Frost Report's most well known sketch
Class sketch
The Class sketch is a comedy sketch first broadcast in an episode of David Frost's satirical comedy programme The Frost Report on 7 April 1966. It has been described as a "genuinely timeless sketch, ingeniously satirising the British class system" and in 2005 was voted number 40 in Channel Four's...

, which satirised the British class system
Social structure of Britain
The social structure of the United Kingdom has historically been highly influenced by the concept of social class, with the concept still affecting British society in the early-21st century. Although definitions of social class in the United Kingdom vary and are highly controversial, most are...

, with Barker representing the middle class.

After the first series, the special Frost Over England was produced, winning the Golden Rose
Rose d'Or
The Rose d’Or is one of the most important international festivals in entertainment television. It was founded in Montreux in 1961 and has taken place in Lucerne since 2004. Producers, executives from independent and public service broadcasters and heads of production companies from over 40...

 at the Montreux Television Festival. With a second series of the show announced, Frost, recognising their potential, signed both Barker and Corbett up to his production company David Paradine Productions
David Paradine Productions
David Paradine Productions is a television production company formed by Sir David Frost.-References:* Accessed 30 March 2007....

. As part of the deal Barker was given his own show in 1968, The Ronnie Barker Playhouse
The Ronnie Barker Playhouse
The Ronnie Barker Playhouse was a series of six comedy half hours showcasing the talents of Ronnie Barker. All were broadcast by Associated-Rediffusion in 1968....

, which comprised six separate, thirty minute plays. Barker starred in each piece as a different character. After two series of The Frost Report on the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, totalling 26 half-hour episodes, Frost moved to ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 after helping to set up London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television was the name of the ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties including south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Warwickshire, east Dorset and...

. There, Frost hosted Frost on Sunday, with Barker and Corbett following and again performing sketches on the programme. Barker began writing sketches for the programme under the pseudonym Gerald Wiley. Barker and Corbett had a greater role on the show than on The Frost Report and Corbett felt "more aware of what [they] were doing."

Barker began using the pseudonym Gerald Wiley when writing sketches because he wished the pieces to be accepted on merit and not just because he, as a star of the programme, had written them; he continued this tradition with the material he wrote later in his career. Barker brought his sketches in, claiming they had come from Wiley through Barker's agent Peter Eade
Peter Eade
Peter Eade was an English theatrical agent of the late 20th century. Among those he represented were Kenneth Williams, Ronnie Barker and Joan Sims....

, and they were very well received. In order to maintain the deception, Barker had criticised material he himself had submitted under the pseudonym; when a Wiley-credited sketch about a ventriloquist had been poorly received by the audience Barker told Corbett "Well, Gerald Wiley let us down there", and on another occasion, when looking at a script, "I don't understand this line. What's he getting at?" One of the first sketches he wrote was called "Doctor's Waiting Room", with the main part written for Corbett. Barker encouraged Corbett to buy the rights to the sketch and, further maintaining the myth, told him to reject Wiley's 'request' for £3,000 as too expensive, before giving Corbett the sketch for free. Speculation began about Wiley's identity, with Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard
Sir Tom Stoppard OM, CBE, FRSL is a British playwright, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and...

, Frank Muir
Frank Muir
Frank Herbert Muir was an English comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. His writing and performing partnership with Denis Norden endured for most of their careers. Together they wrote BBC radio's Take It From Here for over 10 years, and then appeared on BBC radio...

, Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett is a British playwright, screenwriter, actor and author. Born in Leeds, he attended Oxford University where he studied history and performed with The Oxford Revue. He stayed to teach and research mediaeval history at the university for several years...

 and Noël Coward
Noël Coward
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".Born in Teddington, a suburb of London, Coward attended a dance academy...

 all rumoured. After the second series of Frost on Sunday, the cast and crew were invited to a Chinese restaurant, while Wiley said that he would reveal himself. Barker, who had told Corbett earlier in the day, stood up and announced he was Wiley, although initially nobody believed him.

In 1969 Barker was able to produce the film Futtocks End which featured no dialogue and only "grumble[s] and grunt[s]"; Barker played General Futtock in the film and also wrote it. The Ronnie Barker Playhouse had been designed to find a successful idea for a sitcom, and the episode "Ah, There You Are" by Alun Owen
Alun Owen
Alun Owen was a British screenwriter, predominantly active in television, but best remembered by a wider audience for writing the screenplay of The Beatles' debut feature film A Hard Day's Night ....

, which introduced the bumbling aristocratic character Lord Rustless, was chosen. The character returned for the 1969-1970 series Hark at Barker
Hark at Barker
Hark at Barker was a 1969 British comedy series combining elements of sitcom and sketch show, which starred Ronnie Barker. It was made for the ITV network by LWT.Each show began with a spoof news item read by Barker as a continuity announcer...

 as the main character; Barker wrote for the show under the name Jonathan Cobbald. As Wiley he wrote the 1971 series Six Dates with Barker
Six Dates With Barker
Six Dates with Barker is a series of six one-off, half hour situation comedies showcasing the talents of Ronnie Barker. All were broadcast by London Weekend Television early in 1971.Writers on the series included John Cleese and Spike Milligan...

. Despite Barker's success on ITV, LWT's programme controller Stella Richman
Stella Richman
Stella Richman was a British television producer.Originally an actress, she had a bit part in the second episode of The Quatermass Experiment in 1953, Richman was appointed script editor at Lew Grade's Associated TeleVision in 1960 working on single plays. Grade's sole condition was that her...

 opted to fire Frost's company Paradine and as Barker was contracted to the company rather than the network, he lost his job, as did Corbett.

Move to the BBC and The Two Ronnies


Soon after, Barker, Corbett and Josephine Tewson
Josephine Tewson
Josephine Tewson is an English actress. Tewson is perhaps best known for her roles as Elizabeth in the British television series Keeping Up Appearances and as Miss Davenport in the British television series Last of the Summer Wine.-Early life:Tewson was born in Hampstead, London. Her father was a...

 performed a sketch about Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 at the 1971 BAFTAs
British Academy Television Awards
The British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts . They have been awarded annually since 1954, and are analogous to the Emmy Awards in the United States.-Background:...

, with Barker playing Henry. The two also had to keep the audience entertained for eight or so minutes as the show was stopped because of technical difficulties. Their performance at the award show impressed the BBC's Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton
Bill Cotton
Sir William Frederick "Bill" Cotton, CBE was a British television producer and executive, and the son of big-band leader Billy Cotton....

 and Controller of BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 Paul Fox, who were sitting in the audience. Not knowing they were both essentially unemployed, although still contracted to Paradine, Cotton signed the duo up for their own show together, and a series each on their own; he later joked he "must have offered them too much money." Barker and Corbett wished to avoid being remembered primarily as a duo, and felt they could not work in the same way as a conventional double act like Morecambe and Wise
Morecambe and Wise
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, usually referred to as Morecambe and Wise, or Eric and Ernie, were a British comic double act, working in variety, radio, film and most successfully in television. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984...

, and so each maintained their solo careers as well. They each were given a one-off variety special; Barker's, called The Ronnie Barker Yearbook, featured a sketch for each month of the year, although because of time constraints the first two had to be cut. Barker also reprised his character Lord Rustless in the sitcom His Lordship Entertains
His Lordship Entertains
His Lordship Entertains was Ronnie Barker's second sitcom vehicle for his Lord Rustless character, first seen three years earlier in Hark at Barker on ITV. This time though, Rustless had switched channels and was now appearing on BBC2...

 in 1972. Barker wrote all seven episodes, again with the pseudonym Jonathan Cobbald.

Their show together was The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies is a British sketch show that aired on BBC1 from 1971 to 1987. It featured the double act of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, the "Two Ronnies" of the title.-Origins:...

, a sketch show which aired for twelve series between 1971 and 1986, to immediate success. The show, as described by Anthony Hayward
Anthony Hayward
Anthony Hayward is a British journalist and author. He is a regular contributor to The Independent and The Guardian, and has written more than 20 books about television and film...

 of The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

, was "a cocktail of comedy sketches, playlets, songs and parodies, a long-winded Corbett monologue and a singing star, sandwiched between the opening and closing news summaries." The usual format consisted of many sketches between the two, an ongoing filmed serial, a solo character sketch from Barker, Corbett's monologue, a musical number, a special guest, bookended by joke news items, delivered from a desk by the two in the style of newsreader
Newsreader
Newsreader can refer to:* Newsreader , a computer program for reading Usenet newsgroups* News presenter, a person that presents a news show on television, radio or the Internet...

s, before ending with the catchphrase "It's good night from me - and it's good night from him." This was a set format which was used for almost the entirety of the show's run. The end catchphrase and newsreader characters were devised because Barker found it difficult to appear as himself: Corbett explained that Barker "was a very private man, a quiet man...He found it almost impossible to talk directly, as himself, to an audience." Each also had their own solo segments to help ensure they were not totally associated as a double act. Filming took place over four months of each year. After outdoor and serial sketches were filmed on location, the studio material was filmed on Sunday evenings at BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre at White City in West London is the headquarters of BBC Television. Officially opened on 29 June 1960, it remains one of the largest to this day; having featured over the years as backdrop to many BBC programmes, it is one of the most readily recognisable such facilities...

 in front a live audience; the musical finale was filmed the day before without the audience.

Barker wrote much of the show's material, roughly three-quarters, again under the name Gerald Wiley. He was heavily involved with the show's production, especially the serial. Corbett explained that Barker was a "perfectionist" and "as he wrote it Ronnie knew how he wanted every shot to look." After filming the show all day, he spent the evenings helping technician Jim Franklin edit it. While filming on location Barker and Corbett would look through all of the potential material for the studio recording of the rest of the show's content and decide on the running order. He and Corbett always got on, with Barker noting "People refuse to believe that we don't have rows, tensions, private wars. It's a strange thing after so many years but we never have. Actually, it's even more amicable than a marriage - wedlock without the bad patches. Our sense of humour and perception of what's good and what's rubbish are uncommonly in tune." They took turns to play the parts which had the "good lines". One of the show's other writers, Barry Cryer
Barry Cryer
Barry Charles Cryer OBE is a British writer and comedian. Cryer has written for many noted performers, including Dave Allen, Stanley Baxter, Jack Benny, Rory Bremner, George Burns, Jasper Carrott, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Dick Emery, Kenny Everett, Bruce Forsyth, David Frost, Bob Hope, Frankie...

, said: "You could write almost anything knowing these two would do it brilliantly. Because they weren't a double act; they were two men who worked together and had their own careers."

Barker's material included the sketch which came to be known as "Four Candles
Four candles
The Four Candles sketch, originally titled The Hardware Shop or Annie Finkhouse is a sketch from the BBC comedy The Two Ronnies. Written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym of Gerald Wiley, it was first broadcast on Saturday, 4 September 1976 on BBC1...

", airing in 1976, although in the original script it was entitled "Annie Finkhouse". It sees a customer (Barker) ask for a series of things in a hardware store. The sketch's humour derives from similarities in word pronunciation, leading to confusion on the part of the store owner (Corbett). These misunderstandings include the confusion between "four candles" and "fork handles". The idea for the sketch came from the owners of a hardware shop in Hayes, Hillingdon
Hayes, Hillingdon
Hayes is a town in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. It is a suburban development situated west of Charing Cross. Hayes was developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries as an industrial locality to which residential districts were later added in order to house factory workers...

 who wrote in to The Two Ronnies to describe some of the amusing events and misunderstandings in their store. Barker was never happy with the sketch's final line (a male assistant asking "What sort of billhooks did you want?") and changed it (to a female assistant asking "What sort of knockers were you looking for?") for the stage version of The Two Ronnies, although was still not totally satisfied with it. Nevertheless, the sketch is considered the show's most famous one and was voted as the show's best in a TV special, while also placing fifth on Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches. The original script, hand-written by Barker, was sold for £48,500 at auction in 2007 after being featured on an episode of Antiques Roadshow
Antiques Roadshow
Antiques Roadshow is a British television show in which antiques appraisers travel to various regions of the United Kingdom to appraise antiques brought in by local people. It has been running since 1979...

 the previous year.

The show was considered a "national institution" with audiences of between 15 and 20 million regularly tuning in to its 98 episodes. Barker won the BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Performance in 1971 and 1977 for the show. The Two Ronnies ended with the 1986 Christmas special. In 1978 the two performed a stage version of the show at the London Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

; lasting for three months, it followed the same format as the show, with old sketches and some new material, supported by variety acts. Barker's unease with appearing as himself in the stage show led him to create a fictionalized version of himself to play instead. A second stage series took place in 1983.

After a tip off from Dick Clement
Dick Clement
Dick Clement, OBE is an English writer.Born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England, Clement was educated at Bishop's Stortford College and is best known for his writing partnership with Ian La Frenais. Generally, Clement and La Frenais write comedies, or dramas with a comic tone...

 and Ian La Frenais
Ian La Frenais
Ian La Frenais, OBE, , is an English writer best known for his creative partnership with Dick Clement. They are most famous for television series including, The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Porridge, Lovejoy and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.They have also written various other work...

, Barker and Corbett opted to move with their families to Sydney, Australia in 1979 for the year in order to exploit a tax loophole and avoid paying the year's income tax. They performed their stage show for four weeks in Sydney and a further four in Melbourne; due to their existing popularity in Australia and, what Corbett terms, the Australian audiences' "[comedic] soul that still related to the UK," they made no changes to the routine. Barker made no other appearances that year and spent his time writing and engaging in recreational activities. Following the show's success, Kerry Packer
Kerry Packer
Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer, AC was an Australian media tycoon. The son of Sir Frank Packer and Gretel Bullmore, the Packer family company owned controlling interest in both the Nine television network and leading Australian publishing company Australian Consolidated Press, which were later...

 commissioned a six episode TV series of The Two Ronnies in Australia for Nine Network
Nine Network
The Nine Network , is an Australian television network with headquarters based in Willoughby, a suburb located on the North Shore of Sydney. For 50 years since television's inception in Australia, between 1956 and 2006, it was the most watched television network in Australia...

. The show comprised material not yet shown in Australia from The Two Ronnies and new content targeted more towards an Australian audience. They returned for a second series in 1986.

Barker and Corbett also starred in the short, mostly silent, films The Picnic
The Picnic
The Picnic , is a 1976 BBC film starring The Two Ronnies, and written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonyms "Dave Huggett and Larry Keith".-Introduction:...

 (1975) and By the Sea
By the Sea
By the Sea , is a 1982 BBC film starring The Two Ronnies, and written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonyms "Dave Huggett and Larry Keith".-Introduction:...

 (1982). By the Sea was Barker's tribute to the seaside postcard humour of Donald McGill
Donald McGill
Donald Fraser Gould McGill, was an English graphic artist whose name has become synonymous with a whole genre of saucy seaside postcards that were sold mostly in small shops in British coastal towns...

 and his most "personal" work. In 1980 they appeared in the short-lived American variety show The Big Show
The Big Show (TV series)
The Big Show is an American comedy-variety-musical television series produced and broadcast by NBC for several months in 1980.The series aimed to revitalize the moribund variety television genre, which had been in a downward spiral since the cancellations of the Ed Sullivan Show and The Carol...

; the two were glad the show did not last as they objected to the use of canned laughter by the American networks.

Porridge, Open All Hours and other work


Following the success of The Two Ronnies, the BBC let Barker decide what he wanted to do. The Two Ronnies took up one third of a year to produce, allowing time for Barker and Corbett to each do a solo project. Barker's opted to produce some sitcom pilots shown as part of 1973's Seven of One
Seven of One
Seven of One was a British comedy series that aired on BBC2 in 1973. Starring Ronnie Barker, 7 of One is a series of seven separate comedies that would serve as possible pilots for sitcoms. Originally it was to be called Six of One, which Barker planned to follow up with another series called Half...

. Two of these pilots, Open All Hours (written by Roy Clarke
Roy Clarke
Roy Clarke OBE is an English comedy writer.-Career:Clarke is best known for creating BBC Sitcoms; Last of the Summer Wine, Open All Hours and Keeping Up Appearances...

) and Prisoner and Escort (written by Dick Clement
Dick Clement
Dick Clement, OBE is an English writer.Born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England, Clement was educated at Bishop's Stortford College and is best known for his writing partnership with Ian La Frenais. Generally, Clement and La Frenais write comedies, or dramas with a comic tone...

 and Ian La Frenais
Ian La Frenais
Ian La Frenais, OBE, , is an English writer best known for his creative partnership with Dick Clement. They are most famous for television series including, The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Porridge, Lovejoy and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.They have also written various other work...

) became series. Prisoner and Escort became Porridge
Porridge (TV series)
Porridge is a British situation comedy broadcast on BBC1 from 1974 to 1977, running for three series, two Christmas specials and a feature film. Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, it stars Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale as two inmates at the fictional HMP Slade in Cumberland...

, airing from 1974–1977, with Barker starring as the cynical and cunning prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher
Norman Stanley Fletcher
Norman Stanley "Fletch" Fletcher is the main character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge, and the less-successful spin-off, Going Straight...

. The first sitcom to take place in a prison, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 said the show "was about what it took to survive in prison, the little day-to-day triumphs over the system that kept the prisoners sane." The show became a huge success, attracting 15 million viewers and earning what the BBC described as "a chorus of critical acclaim and public adoration for what remains one of the most classic British sitcoms ever produced." The Times called Fletcher his "finest creation". Barker privately regarded the series as the finest work of his career. He won the BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Performance in 1975 for his performance.

In 1976, Barker played Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck is a companion to Robin Hood in the legends about that character. He is a common character in modern Robin Hood stories, which depict him as a jovial friar and one of Robin's Merry Men. The figure of Tuck was common in the May Games festivals of England and Scotland during the 15th...

 in the film Robin and Marian
Robin and Marian
Robin and Marian is a 1976 British/American co-produced romantic adventure period film filmed in Pamplona, Spain starring Sean Connery as Robin Hood, Audrey Hepburn as Lady Marian, Nicol Williamson as Little John, Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Richard Harris as King Richard. It also...

, directed by Richard Lester
Richard Lester
Richard Lester is an American film director based in Britain. Lester is notable for his work with The Beatles in the 1960s and his work on the Superman film series in the 1980s.-Early years and television:...

. The same year, determined not to be remembered only as Fletcher, Barker opted to end Porridge after two series and instead focused on the second pilot Open All Hours
Open All Hours
Open All Hours is a BBC sitcom written by Roy Clarke which ran for four series a first run in 1976, a second run in 1981, third in 1982 and finally with a fourth run in 1985, with a pilot episode from the Seven of One series in 1973...

, alongside David Jason
David Jason
Sir David John White, OBE , better known by his stage name David Jason, is an English BAFTA award-winning actor. He is best known as the main character Derek "Del Boy" Trotter on the BBC sit-com Only Fools and Horses from 1981, the voice of Mr Toad in The Wind In The Willows and as detective Jack...

. Barker starred as Arkwright, a money-grabbing, stuttering shopkeeper. Arkwright's stutter was not in the script; Barker was inspired to use it by Melvyn's performance and use of a stutter in a 1955 play the two performed at the Palace Theatre
Palace Theatre, London
The Palace Theatre is a West End theatre in the City of Westminster in London. It is an imposing red-brick building that dominates the west side of Cambridge Circus and is located near the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road...

 called Hot Water. Open All Hours aired one series in 1976 on BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 but was not renewed due to low ratings. As a result, Barker backtracked on his earlier decision and produced a third series of Porridge, as well as a film adaptation
Porridge (film)
Porridge is a 1979 film based upon the television series of the same name which was released under the title Doing Time in the United States....

. It was followed by the spin-off sitcom Going Straight
Going Straight
Going Straight is a BBC sitcom which was a direct spin-off from Porridge, starring Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher, newly released from the fictional Slade Prison where the earlier series had been set....

 which focused on Fletcher after his release from prison. While not as popular as Porridge, Barker again won the BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Performance. Plans to further the show were ended when Barker's co-star Richard Beckinsale
Richard Beckinsale
Richard Arthur Beckinsale was an English actor, best known for his roles as Lennie Godber in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge and Alan Moore in the British sitcom Rising Damp....

 died of a heart attack in 1979 aged 31. With repeats of Open All Hours earning high ratings on BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

, the BBC commissioned a further series of the show in 1981, with another two made as well as the show continued its ratings success. Both shows placed in the top ten of the 2004 poll to determine Britain's Best Sitcom
Britain's Best Sitcom
Britain's Best Sitcom was a poll conducted in 2004 by the BBC, to identify the United Kingdom's best situation comedy. Viewers were asked to vote for their favourite by phone, text message and on the web. The top ten went forward to a final round of voting...

; Porridge finished seventh and Open All Hours eighth.

Barker's next sitcom, The Magnificent Evans
The Magnificent Evans
The Magnificent Evans is a 1984 BBC situation comedy written by Roy Clarke and starring Ronnie Barker, Sharon Morgan and Myfanwy Talog.-Plot:...

, which was about a Welsh photographer and aired in 1984, was not successful. His final sitcom, Clarence
Clarence (TV series)
Clarence is a 1988 BBC situation comedy starring Ronnie Barker and Josephine Tewson, written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym "Bob Ferris". It was Barker's final sitcom appearance before his retirement....

 in which he played Clarence Sale, a removal man with failing sight, aired in 1988. Barker wrote the show himself, again using a pseudonym, this time as "Bob Ferris".

Retirement and reappearances



In 1987, before Clarence aired and after rejecting Hall's offer of the part of Falstaff
Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff is a fictional character who appears in three plays by William Shakespeare. In the two Henry IV plays, he is a companion to Prince Hal, the future King Henry V. A fat, vain, boastful, and cowardly knight, Falstaff leads the apparently wayward Prince Hal into trouble, and is...

 in a Royal National Theatre
Royal National Theatre
The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...

 production of Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1
Henry IV, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard II, Henry IV , and Henry V...

 & 2
Henry IV, Part 2
Henry IV, Part 2 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed written between 1596 and 1599. It is the third part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and succeeded by Henry V.-Sources:...

, Barker retired from show business, aged 58, "at the height of his fame", citing a decline in his own writing quality, lack of ambition and ideas, and a desire to go out on top so as not to damage his legacy, as well as concerns about the state of his heart. He had decided to retire in 1985 but his decision was kept secret for two years. He made his decision public on an appearance on the chat show Wogan
Wogan
Wogan was a chat show on British television, hosted by Terry Wogan. It followed the format of a series broadcast in 1980 entitled What's On Wogan?, which failed to gather viewers. The Wogan show was initially broadcast on Tuesday evenings on BBC1 in 1981 and from 1982 to 1984, it moved into the...

. Retired, Barker opened and ran an antiques shop called The Emporium in Chipping Norton
Chipping Norton
Chipping Norton is a market town in the Cotswold Hills in the West Oxfordshire district of Oxfordshire, England, about southwest of Banbury.-History until the 17th century:...

 in Oxfordshire. He joked: "I lose money every week, but it's a hobby. It's cheaper than skiing and safer at my age." Due to its unprofitability, they sold the shop after ten years. He resisted all calls to come out of retirement from then onwards. He wrote his autobiography, Dancing in the Moonlight: My Early Years on Stage in 1993 and released All I Ever Wrote, his complete scripts, in 1999. He wrote the play Mum for his daughter Charlotte Barker
Charlotte Barker
Charlotte Barker is a British actress.She was born to British comedian Ronnie Barker and Joy Tubb.Charlotte has worked mostly for television where she gave her debut in the 1985 film Frankie and Johnnie by Martin Campbell...

 in 1998, which was performed at The King's Head Theatre
The King's Head Theatre
The King's Head Theatre, founded in 1970 by Dan Crawford, is an Off-West End venue in London. It was the first pub theatre in the UK. Adam Spreadbury-Maher became Artistic Director in March 2010 .-Background:...

, but garnered a negative response, with Barker stating it got "the worst notices of any play in the history of the theatre."

Just over a decade after retiring, Barker was persuaded to make occasional appearances on TV again. In 1997 he appeared with Corbett at the Royal Command Performance
Royal Command Performance
For the annual Royal Variety Performance performed in Britain for the benefit of the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund, see Royal Variety Performance...

, driving on stage in a motorcycle as the Two Fat Ladies
Two Fat Ladies
Two Fat Ladies was a BBC Two television cooking programme starring Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson. It originally ran for four seasons, from 1996 to 1999. The show was produced by the BBC and also appeared on the Food Network in the U.S. and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation...

, and in 1999 he was reunited with Corbett for Two Ronnies Night on BBC One, and the following year for A Tribute to the Two Ronnies. In 2002, director Richard Loncraine
Richard Loncraine
Richard Loncraine is a British film and television director.Loncraine received early training in the features department of the BBC, including a season directing items for Tomorrow's World...

 persuaded Barker to appear as Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

's butler David Inches in the BBC-HBO drama The Gathering Storm and then cast him in the larger role of the General in the TV film My House in Umbria
My House in Umbria
My House in Umbria is a 2003 HBO made-for-television movie, based on the novella of the same name by William Trevor and published along with another novella in the volume Two Lives. The film stars Maggie Smith and was directed by Richard Loncraine....

 in 2003, alongside Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
Dame Margaret Natalie Smith, DBE , better known as Maggie Smith, is an English film, stage, and television actress who made her stage debut in 1952 and is still performing after 59 years...

 (whom he had, early in their careers, advised to give up acting as he felt she would not be a success). In the same year, he briefly reprised his role as Norman Stanley Fletcher in the spoof documentary Life Beyond the Box
Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher
Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher is a 2003 BBC Television comedy docudrama telling the life of Norman Stanley Fletcher from Porridge and Going Straight.-Synopsis:...

.

Barker received several lifetime achievement awards. He won the Royal Television Society
Royal Television Society
The Royal Television Society is a British-based educational charity for the discussion, and analysis of television in all its forms, past, present and future. It is the oldest television society in the world...

's award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in 1975. Sir Alec Guinness presented him with a lifetime achievement honour at the inaugural British Comedy Awards
British Comedy Awards
The British Comedy Awards is an annual awards ceremony in the United Kingdom celebrating notable comedians and entertainment performances of the previous year.-History:...

 in 1990, while he received another such honour at the BBC Centenary Programme in 1996. In 2004 he was given a special BAFTA lifetime achievement award at Ronnie Barker: A BAFTA Tribute, a televised celebratory tribute evening. In 2005, he and Corbett were part of the first 100 people given stars on London's Avenue of Stars
Avenue of Stars, London
The Avenue of Stars was London's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It opened in 2005 with one hundred names.The Avenue of Stars was a walkway through Covent Garden passing St Paul's Church, commonly known as the "Actors' Church". It honoured individuals or groups from the entertainment...

. Previous awards included the Variety Club of Great Britain
Variety, the Children's Charity
Variety, the Children's Charity is an organisation founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 10, 1927, when a group of eleven men involved in show business set up a social club which they named the "Variety Club". On Christmas Eve 1928, a small baby was left on the steps the Sheridan Square...

 Award in 1969, 1974 and 1980, the Radio Industry Club Award in 1973, 1974, 1977 and 1981.

Following the success of Ronnie Barker: A BAFTA Tribute, Barker wanted to return the The Two Ronnies to television and the BBC commissioned The Two Ronnies Sketchbook
The Two Ronnies Sketchbook
The Two Ronnies Sketchbook was a collection of classic sketches from the BBC comedy series The Two Ronnies, with newly filmed introductions by the stars, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett...

, a clip show of their best sketches along with newly recorded introductions. These were recorded in one day due to Barker's declining health and aired in 2005. The project, when announced, met with "some derision among the professional critics", but after the first episode drew eight million viewers, they had to "eat their words". The final special, and Barker's final appearance on TV - The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook - was recorded in July 2005 as a result of Barker's failing health and aired posthumously in December.

Acting and writing style



Barker became a comic actor in his theatre days, noting "I think it's better to make people laugh than cry." He has been described by The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 as "not a comedian, [but] an actor with a talent for comedy," who "slipped into characters with apparent ease." Barker felt he was only funny in character. The BBC wrote he was "able to deliver the great tongue-twisting speeches required of his characters, Barker pronounced himself 'completely boring' without a script." Peter Hall spoke of Barker's skills as a dramatic actor, calling him "the great actor we lost" and lamented that Barker was unable to take a role in one of his Shakespearean productions. Barker, though, preferred comedy, and felt it was "as good and as important as serious work" and he was not "dumbing down" by doing it. Actor Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder
Gene Wilder is an American stage and screen actor, director, screenwriter, and author.Wilder began his career on stage, making his screen debut in the film Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. His first major role was as Leopold Bloom in the 1968 film The Producers...

 compared him to Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

 in saying "no matter how farcical [his performance] was...there was always an element of reality to what he did."

Barker's writing style was "based on precise scripts and perfect timing." It often involved playing with language, including humour involving such linguistic items as spoonerisms and double entendres. He "preferred innuendo over the crudely explicit, a restraint that demanded some imagination from the audience and was the essence of his comedy." He "never liked sex or obscenity on television, but there was no shortage of frisky gags in The Two Ronnies". Corbett said he had "a mastery of the English language".

Personal life


Barker met Joy Tubb in Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

 while she was a stage manager for two plays he was in. They married nine months later in July 1957 and they had three children: two sons, Larry (b. 1959) and Adam (b. 1968) and one daughter, Charlotte
Charlotte Barker
Charlotte Barker is a British actress.She was born to British comedian Ronnie Barker and Joy Tubb.Charlotte has worked mostly for television where she gave her debut in the 1985 film Frankie and Johnnie by Martin Campbell...

 (b. 1962), who became an actress. Larry was named after Barker's idol Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

. The family lived on Church Lane in Pinner
Pinner
- Climate :Pinner's geographical position on the far western side of North West London makes it the furthest London suburb from any UK coastline. Hence the lower prevalence of moderating maritime influences make Pinner noticeably warmer in the spring and the summer compared to the rest of the capital...

 for many years; they later sold the property and moved to a converted mill in Dean, Oxfordshire
Dean, Oxfordshire
Dean is a hamlet in Spelsbury civil parish, about north of Charlbury and southeast of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Its toponym derives from the fact that it located between the valleys of the Coldron Brook, and one of its tributaries....

. According to Corbett, Barker was "first and foremost a family man."

He received an OBE in 1978. Barker was an avid collector of antiques, books and posters and amassed a collection of over 53,000 postcards; he produced several compilation books of them including Ronnie Barker's Book of Bathing Beauties, A Pennyworth of Art and Sauce. Barker rarely appeared in public, and when he did it was almost always in character. He once said "I've always known I haven't a personality of my own, I have to be someone else to be happy. That's why I became an actor, I suppose."

Barker was a heavy smoker until 1972 when he gave up the habit after having a pre-cancerous growth removed from his throat; he took to drinking wine and using placebo cigarettes to maintain his concentration and help him sleep. He underwent a heart bypass in 1996 and survived a pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism
Pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches by a substance that has travelled from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream . Usually this is due to embolism of a thrombus from the deep veins in the legs, a process termed venous thromboembolism...

 the following year.

Death


Opting not to have heart valve replacement surgery, Barker's health rapidly declined after the recording of The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook and he died of heart failure at the Katherine House hospice in Adderbury
Adderbury
Adderbury is a large village and civil parish in northern Oxfordshire, England. It is about south of Banbury and from Junction 10 of the M40 motorway. The village is divided in two by the Sor Brook. The village consists of two neighbourhoods: West Adderbury and East Adderbury...

, Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is a county in the South East region of England, bordering on Warwickshire and Northamptonshire , Buckinghamshire , Berkshire , Wiltshire and Gloucestershire ....

 (where he had been for two days) on 3 October 2005, aged 76, with Joy by his side. News of his death made top billing on the television news headlines. The Sun
The Sun (newspaper)
The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

 featured a front page of just the headline "It's Goodnight From Him" and an image of Barker's glasses.

Barker was cremated at a private humanist
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 funeral at Banbury
Banbury
Banbury is a market town and civil parish on the River Cherwell in the Cherwell District of Oxfordshire. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, south of Coventry and north northwest of the county town of Oxford...

 Crematorium, near Dean, attended only by family and close friends; his son Adam did not attend as he was wanted by police for questioning over allegations of accessing child pornography via the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

. A public memorial service for Barker was held on 3 March 2006 at Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

, with some 2,000 people in attendance. Corbett, Richard Briers
Richard Briers
Richard David Briers, CBE is an English actor whose career has encompassed theatre, television, film and radio.He first came to prominence as George Starling in Marriage Lines in the 1960s, but it was in the following decade when he played Tom Good in the BBC sitcom The Good Life that he became a...

, Josephine Tewson
Josephine Tewson
Josephine Tewson is an English actress. Tewson is perhaps best known for her roles as Elizabeth in the British television series Keeping Up Appearances and as Miss Davenport in the British television series Last of the Summer Wine.-Early life:Tewson was born in Hampstead, London. Her father was a...

, Michael Grade
Michael Grade
Michael Ian Grade, Baron Grade of Yarmouth CBE is a British broadcast executive and businessman. He was BBC chairman from 2004 to 2006 and executive chairman of ITV plc from 2007 to 2009.-Early life:...

 and Peter Kay
Peter Kay
Peter John Kay is an English comedian, writer, actor, director and producer. His work includes That Peter Kay Thing , Phoenix Nights , Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere , Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and other independent productions which have included two sell out tours.-Early career:Peter Kay...

 all read at the service, while others in attendance included David Jason
David Jason
Sir David John White, OBE , better known by his stage name David Jason, is an English BAFTA award-winning actor. He is best known as the main character Derek "Del Boy" Trotter on the BBC sit-com Only Fools and Horses from 1981, the voice of Mr Toad in The Wind In The Willows and as detective Jack...

, Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry
Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club. He first came to attention in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue presentation "The Cellar Tapes", which also...

, Michael Palin
Michael Palin
Michael Edward Palin, CBE FRGS is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries....

, Leslie Phillips
Leslie Phillips
Leslie Samuel Phillips, CBE is an English actor with a highly recognisable upper class accent. Originally known for his work as a comedy actor, Phillips subsequently made the transition to character roles.-Early life:...

, Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry
Lenworth George "Lenny" Henry, is a British actor, writer, comedian and occasional television presenter.- Early life :...

, Dawn French and June Whitfield
June Whitfield
June Rosemary Whitfield, CBE is an English actress, well known in the United Kingdom since the 1950s for roles in radio and television comedy series....

. A recording of Barker's rhyming slang sermon from The Two Ronnies was played, while as the cross processed up the aisle of the Abbey, it was accompanied by four candles instead of the usual two, in reference to the Four Candles
Four candles
The Four Candles sketch, originally titled The Hardware Shop or Annie Finkhouse is a sketch from the BBC comedy The Two Ronnies. Written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym of Gerald Wiley, it was first broadcast on Saturday, 4 September 1976 on BBC1...

 sketch. Barker was the third comedy professional to be given a memorial at Westminster Abbey, after Joyce Grenfell
Joyce Grenfell
Joyce Irene Grenfell, OBE was an English actress, comedienne, diseuse and singer-songwriter.-Early life:...

 and Les Dawson
Les Dawson
Leslie "Les" Dawson was a popular English comedian remembered for his deadpan style, curmudgeonly persona and jokes about his mother-in-law and wife.-Life and career:...

.

Legacy


Following his death the "Writer of the Year Award" at the British Comedy Awards
British Comedy Awards
The British Comedy Awards is an annual awards ceremony in the United Kingdom celebrating notable comedians and entertainment performances of the previous year.-History:...

 was renamed in his honour. He was voted as the 16th greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders in a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian.

The BBC described him as "one of the leading figures of British television comedy", and "much loved and admired". with The Independent called him "a master of television sitcom". The Guardian said he was "much loved...Both as an actor and a writer he was recognised as a master of pyrotechnic puns, surreal behaviour in public and private places and crackling cross-chat." They concluded "it says much about the decline of the British television industry that Ronnie Barker, one of its most creative comic talents, should have turned his back on it long before he died at the age of 76." In Barker's eulogy, the Reverend Robert Wright stated he was "undoubtedly one of the very greatest television comedy actors" and "as a performer, he made comedy look effortlessly funny."

His stage play, Mum, was adapted for radio. Broadcast in 2006 on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 as an Afternoon Play
Afternoon Play
The Afternoon Play is a long-running drama programming strand, broadcast every weekday at 2.15pm on BBC Radio 4. Each play lasts for 45 minutes, and roughly 190 new Afternoon Plays are broadcast each year....

, adapted and directed by Neil Cargill, it starred Maxine Peake
Maxine Peake
Maxine Peake is an English stage, film and television actress known for playing Veronica in Channel 4's Manchester-based drama series Shameless, Twinkle in Victoria Wood's sitcom Dinnerladies, and, most recently, barrister Martha Costello in BBC legal drama Silk.-Early life:Peake is the second of...

 in the main role alongside Barker's old Porridge collaborator, Sam Kelly
Sam Kelly
Sam Kelly is an English actor who has appeared in television, radio and theatre.-Career:He has had roles in British sitcoms such as Porridge as Bunny Warren, Allo 'Allo! as Captain Hans Geering leaving after series three, On the Up as Dennis Waterman's chauffeur and We'll Think of Something as Les...

. A bronze statue of Barker, in character as Norman Stanley Fletcher, sculpted by Martin Jennings, was unveiled in a public area at the entrance of the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre is a £42million theatre in Aylesbury, England, United Kingdom presenting a range of West End and touring musicals and plays, along with performances of opera and ballet and a Christmas pantomime.-History:...

 in September 2010 by his widow Joy, David Jason and Ronnie Corbett. Joy Barker died in January 2011, aged 78.

Filmography



Films

Year Film Role Notes
1958 Wonderful Things!
Wonderful Things!
Wonderful Things! is a 1958 British comedy romance film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Frankie Vaughan, Jocelyn Lane and Wilfrid Hyde-White. Two fisherman brothers clash over the love of a woman.-Cast:* Frankie Vaughan ... Carmello...

Head waiter Uncredited
1962 Kill or Cure Burton
1963 The Cracksman
The Cracksman
The Cracksman is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Peter Graham Scott.-Plot:Charlie Drake plays an honest locksmith whose problem is that he cannot resist the challenge of a lock. He gets smoothtalked into a safecracking scheme by a couple of ruthless gangsters. He is duped by a debonair con...

Yossle
Doctor in Distress
Doctor in Distress (film)
Doctor in Distress is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Dirk Bogarde, James Robertson Justice, and Samantha Eggar. It was the fifth film in the Doctor Series...

Man at railway station ticket counter Uncredited
Father Came Too!
Father Came Too!
Father Came Too! is a 1963 British comedy film directed by Peter Graham Scott. It is a sequel to The Fast Lady.-Plot:Dexter and Juliet Munro are a married couple who move to a run-down cottage in hopes of escaping from Juliet's overbearing father. However, the couple are soon confronted by their...

Josh
1964 A Home of Your Own
A Home of Your Own
A Home of Your Own is a 1964 British comedy film which is a brick-by-brick account of the building a young couple’s dream house. From the day when the site is first selected, to the day – several years and children later – when the couple finally move in, the story is a noisy but wordless comedy of...

Cement mixer
The Bargee
The Bargee
The Bargee is a 1964 British comedy film directed by Duncan Wood, and starring Harry H. Corbett, Hugh Griffith, Eric Sykes and Ronnie Barker. The screenplay was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.-Plot:...

Ronnie
1965 Runaway Railway
Runaway Railway
Runaway Railway is a 1965 British family adventure film directed by Jan Darnley-Smith and starring John Moulder-Brown, Kevin Bennett, Ronnie Barker and Graham Stark...

Mr. Galore
1967 The Man Outside
The Man Outside (1967 film)
The Man Outside is a British film released in 1968. It was previously exhibited in Austria and West Germany in 1967. The story is based on the novel Double Agent by Gene Stackleborg.-Cast:* Van Heflin as Bill MacLean* Heidelinde Weis as Kay Sebastian...

George Venaxas
1968 A Ghost of a Chance Mr. Prendergast
1969 Two Off the Cuff
1971 The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins
The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins
The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins is a 1971 British comedy film directed and produced by Graham Stark. Its title is a conflation of The Magnificent Seven and the seven deadly sins. It comprises a sequence of seven sketches, each representing a sin and written by an array of British comedy-writing...

Unnamed character In "Sloth" segment
1976 Robin and Marian
Robin and Marian
Robin and Marian is a 1976 British/American co-produced romantic adventure period film filmed in Pamplona, Spain starring Sean Connery as Robin Hood, Audrey Hepburn as Lady Marian, Nicol Williamson as Little John, Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Richard Harris as King Richard. It also...

Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck
Friar Tuck is a companion to Robin Hood in the legends about that character. He is a common character in modern Robin Hood stories, which depict him as a jovial friar and one of Robin's Merry Men. The figure of Tuck was common in the May Games festivals of England and Scotland during the 15th...

1979 Porridge
Porridge (film)
Porridge is a 1979 film based upon the television series of the same name which was released under the title Doing Time in the United States....

Norman Stanley Fletcher
Norman Stanley Fletcher
Norman Stanley "Fletch" Fletcher is the main character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge, and the less-successful spin-off, Going Straight...


Television

Year Show Role Notes
1956 I'm Not Bothered "Bit Part" Two episodes
1960 The Terrible Choice 2nd Murderer Episode 1.7: "Macbeth: Part 2"
1960–1964 It's a Square World Various characters
1961 Citizen James
Citizen James
Citizen James was a BBC sitcom that ran for three series between 24 November 1960 and 1962. The show featured comedian and actor Sid James , Bill Kerr, Liz Fraser and Sydney Tafler...

Unknown Episode 2.7
1961–1963 Faces of Jim
Faces of Jim
Faces of Jim was a black-and-white British comedy television series starring Jimmy Edwards, June Whitfield and Ronnie Barker, with each episode being an individual half-hour sitcom. The first series aired as The Seven Faces of Jim, the second as Six More Faces of Jim and the third series as More...

Various characters Series 1 named The Seven Faces of Jim
Series 2 named Six More Faces of Jim
Series 3 named More Faces of Jim
Barker appeared in several episodes in Series 1 and 2 and all six of Series 3
1962 The Benny Hill Show
The Benny Hill Show
The Benny Hill Show is a British comedy television show starring Benny Hill.There were various incarnations of the show between 1951 and 1991, and it aired in over 140 countries. The show is generally sketch-based with heavy use of slapstick, mime, parody and double-entendre...

Chef Episode 1.2: "A Pair of Socks"
ITV Play of the Week Bundles Episode 8.5: "The Second Chef"
Drama 61-67 Harrison Episode 2.17: "The Frightened Sky"
1964 How to be an Alien
How to be an alien
How to be an Alien was the second book by George Mikes and is the most famous of the 44 he wrote. By its 32nd impression in 1966 it had sold over 300,000 copies. It poked gentle fun at the English and their relationship with foreigners, written from his perspective as a fresh immigrant from Hungary...

Various voice roles Six episodes
Sykes and A...
Sykes and A...
Sykes and a... is a black-and-white British sitcom starring Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques that aired on BBC1 from 1960 to 1965. It was written by Eric Sykes, Johnny Speight, John Antrobus and Spike Milligan...

Tramp Episode 7.6: "Sykes and a Log Cabin"
Bold as Brass Mr. Oakroyd Four episodes
1965 Armchair Theatre
Armchair Theatre
Armchair Theatre is a British television drama anthology series, which ran on the ITV network from 1956 to 1974. It was originally produced by Associated British Corporation, and later by Thames Television after 1968....

Unknown Episode 5.15: "The Keys of the Cafe"
The Walrus and the Carpenter Unknown Episode 1.4: "Luther and the Golden Fleece"
A Tale of Two Cities Jerry Cruncher Seven episodes
Gaslight Theatre Various characters Six episodes
Theatre 625
Theatre 625
Theatre 625 is a British television drama anthology series, produced by the BBC and transmitted on BBC2 from 1964 to 1968. It was one of the first regular programmes in the line-up of the channel, and the title referred to its production and transmission being in the higher-definition 625-line...

Crowther Rimington Episode 3.13: "Portraits from the North: Bruno"
1966 Foreign Affairs Grischa Petrovich
The Saint
The Saint (TV series)
The Saint was an ITC mystery spy thriller television series that aired in the UK on ITV between 1962 and 1969. It centred on the Leslie Charteris literary character, Simon Templar, a Robin Hood-like adventurer with a penchant for disguise. The character may be nicknamed The Saint because the...

Alphonse Episode 5.9: "The Better Mousetrap"
1966–1967 The Frost Report
The Frost Report
The Frost Report was a satirical television show hosted by David Frost. It ran for 29 episodes from 1966 to 1967. It is most notable for introducing John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett to television and also launching the careers of several comedians and performers.The main cast were...

Various characters 28 episodes
1967 The Gamblers Unknown Episode 1.10: "The Glory of Llewellyn Smiley"
The Avengers
The Avengers (TV series)
The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series set in the 1960s Britain. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel and his assistant John Steed . Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants...

Edwin Cheshire Episode 5.8: "The Hidden Tiger"
Before the Fringe Various characters Six episodes
1968 The Ronnie Barker Playhouse
The Ronnie Barker Playhouse
The Ronnie Barker Playhouse was a series of six comedy half hours showcasing the talents of Ronnie Barker. All were broadcast by Associated-Rediffusion in 1968....

Various characters Six episodes
1969–1970 Frost on Sunday Various characters
Hark at Barker
Hark at Barker
Hark at Barker was a 1969 British comedy series combining elements of sitcom and sketch show, which starred Ronnie Barker. It was made for the ITV network by LWT.Each show began with a spoof news item read by Barker as a continuity announcer...

Lord Rustless 15 episodes
1969, 1971, 1975 Play of the Month
Play of the Month
Play of the Month is a BBC television anthology series featuring productions of classic and contemporary stage plays which were usually broadcast on BBC1. Each production featured a different work, often using prominent British stage actors in the leading roles...

Stephen Spettigue
Bottom
Nick Bottom
Nick Bottom is a character in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream who provides comic relief throughout the play, and is famously known for getting his head transformed into that of an ass by the elusive Puck within the play.- Overview :...


Henry Ormonroyd
Episode 5.2: "Charley's Aunt"
Episode 7.1: "A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that was written by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta...

"
Episode 11.4: "When We Are Married
When We Are Married
When We Are Married is a 1938 play by English dramatist, J. B. Priestley. It is the first play ever to be televised unedited from a theatre.-Productions:* 1938 World premiere, London, England* 16 November 1938 BBC live telecast...

"
1970 Futtocks End General Futtock TV film
Not Only... But Also
Not Only... But Also
Not Only... But Also was a popular 1960s BBC British television series starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.-History:The show was originally intended as a solo project for Moore, called Not Only Dudley Moore, But Also His Guests...

Poets Cornered segment Episode 3.5
Wiltons' - The Handsomest Hall in Town Music Hall Performer
1971 Six Dates with Barker
Six Dates With Barker
Six Dates with Barker is a series of six one-off, half hour situation comedies showcasing the talents of Ronnie Barker. All were broadcast by London Weekend Television early in 1971.Writers on the series included John Cleese and Spike Milligan...

Various characters Six episodes
The Ronnie Barker Yearbook Various characters
Ronnie Corbett in Bed Various characters
1971–1986 The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies is a British sketch show that aired on BBC1 from 1971 to 1987. It featured the double act of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett, the "Two Ronnies" of the title.-Origins:...

Various characters 93 episodes
1972 His Lordship Entertains
His Lordship Entertains
His Lordship Entertains was Ronnie Barker's second sitcom vehicle for his Lord Rustless character, first seen three years earlier in Hark at Barker on ITV. This time though, Rustless had switched channels and was now appearing on BBC2...

Lord Rustless Seven episodes
A Christmas Night with the Stars Various characters
1972, 1974 Comedy Playhouse
Comedy Playhouse
Comedy Playhouse was a long-running British anthology series of one-off unrelated sitcoms that aired for 120 episodes from 1961 to 1975. Many episodes later graduated to their own series, including Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, All Gas and Gaiters, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served?...

George Idle
Johnnie Wetherby
Episode 12.1: "Idle at Work"
Episode 14.2: "Franklyn and Johnnie"
1973 Seven of One
Seven of One
Seven of One was a British comedy series that aired on BBC2 in 1973. Starring Ronnie Barker, 7 of One is a series of seven separate comedies that would serve as possible pilots for sitcoms. Originally it was to be called Six of One, which Barker planned to follow up with another series called Half...

Various characters Seven separate pilots
1974–1977 Porridge
Porridge (TV series)
Porridge is a British situation comedy broadcast on BBC1 from 1974 to 1977, running for three series, two Christmas specials and a feature film. Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, it stars Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale as two inmates at the fictional HMP Slade in Cumberland...

Norman Stanley Fletcher
Norman Stanley Fletcher
Norman Stanley "Fletch" Fletcher is the main character in the popular BBC sitcom Porridge, and the less-successful spin-off, Going Straight...

20 episodes
1976 The Picnic
The Picnic
The Picnic , is a 1976 BBC film starring The Two Ronnies, and written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonyms "Dave Huggett and Larry Keith".-Introduction:...

The General TV film
1976–1985 Open All Hours
Open All Hours
Open All Hours is a BBC sitcom written by Roy Clarke which ran for four series a first run in 1976, a second run in 1981, third in 1982 and finally with a fourth run in 1985, with a pilot episode from the Seven of One series in 1973...

Albert Arkwright 25 episodes
1978 Going Straight
Going Straight
Going Straight is a BBC sitcom which was a direct spin-off from Porridge, starring Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher, newly released from the fictional Slade Prison where the earlier series had been set....

Norman Stanley Fletcher
1979, 1987 The Two Ronnies in Australia Various characters
1982 By the Sea
By the Sea
By the Sea , is a 1982 BBC film starring The Two Ronnies, and written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonyms "Dave Huggett and Larry Keith".-Introduction:...

The General TV film
1984 The Magnificent Evans
The Magnificent Evans
The Magnificent Evans is a 1984 BBC situation comedy written by Roy Clarke and starring Ronnie Barker, Sharon Morgan and Myfanwy Talog.-Plot:...

Plantagenet Evans Six episodes
1988 Clarence
Clarence (TV series)
Clarence is a 1988 BBC situation comedy starring Ronnie Barker and Josephine Tewson, written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym "Bob Ferris". It was Barker's final sitcom appearance before his retirement....

Clarence Sale Six episodes
1999 The Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything Renaissance Man
2002 The Gathering Storm
The Gathering Storm (2002 film)
The Gathering Storm is a BBC–HBO co-produced television biographical film about Winston Churchill in the years just prior to World War II...

David Inches TV film
2003 My House in Umbria
My House in Umbria
My House in Umbria is a 2003 HBO made-for-television movie, based on the novella of the same name by William Trevor and published along with another novella in the volume Two Lives. The film stars Maggie Smith and was directed by Richard Loncraine....

The General TV film
Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher
Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher
Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher is a 2003 BBC Television comedy docudrama telling the life of Norman Stanley Fletcher from Porridge and Going Straight.-Synopsis:...

Norman Stanley Fletcher Docudrama
2005 The Two Ronnies Sketchbook
The Two Ronnies Sketchbook
The Two Ronnies Sketchbook was a collection of classic sketches from the BBC comedy series The Two Ronnies, with newly filmed introductions by the stars, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett...

Various characters Seven episodes

External links