Friday 9 December 2016

'Always a treat and a pleasure' to work with Ronnie Barker

Published 31/03/2016 | 17:51

Ronnie Corbett was lost in admiration for the talents of Ronnie Barker
Ronnie Corbett was lost in admiration for the talents of Ronnie Barker

Ronnie Corbett viewed his partner as the "brainier" of the two and was in awe of Barker's talent.

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Corbett, who died 11 years after Ronnie Barker's death aged 76, explained the close relationship of The Two Ronnies.

Encompassing this dynamic in Barker's eulogy at Westminster Abbey, Corbett said: "When we were filming, we had a simple formula - Ronnie would write a sketch - and I would queue for his lunch."

Speaking in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in 2010, Corbett reflected on this admiration, particularly for Barker's writing, adding he was always quite delighted to leave penmanship to others.

He said: "It's a very, very brave thing to do, to hand somebody a bit of paper and say 'I think this is funny'. Well, it's bad enough getting up and doing it and saying 'I think this is funny', but to write it and do it is very, very brave and very clever.

"Ron (B), I suppose, was the brainier of the two of us... coming together was always a treat and a pleasure."

In 1979, when the men travelled to film The Two Ronnies in Australia , their families lived near each other in Sydney, and their children attended school together.

Corbett was married to Anne Hart from 1965 and had two daughters, Emma and Sophie.

Barker married Joy Tubb in 1957 and had three children - Larry, Adam and Charlotte - who were born at similar times to Corbett's children.

"We liked each other very much and, of course, there was never a cross word," Corbett said on Radio 4."Our wives got on, and the children were contemporaneous and everything."

Both Ronnies had considerable solo careers, with Corbett in Sorry! and Barker in Porridge and Open All Hours.

Corbett spoke of how little rivalry came of their respective solo projects, but that he viewed Barker as more successful.

He added: "Of course he had bigger successes away from The Two Ronnies than I had had... Not much has worked like Porridge."

Speaking to The Daily Mail 10 years ago, Corbett said: "I always thought I was very lucky to be in the company of someone who was so talented and had such good judgment ."

The last time The Two Ronnies appeared together was in their Christmas special show in 2005, recorded just three months before Barker's death in October.

"When he stood and hugged me at the end of the show tears ran down his cheeks. I didn't dare start blubbing myself," he told the Daily Mail.

"Everybody knew it was the end, but nobody said so. It was emotional, but he was determined to do that Christmas show. He was so fragile. I kept thinking: 'Why do you want to put yourself through this?

"He went downhill very fast after that and later I heard from Joy that he'd been living to make this last great professional effort."

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