Saturday 1 October 2016

'Four candles' sketch saw Ronnie Corbett play shopkeeper to customer from hell

Published 31/03/2016 | 15:56

The four candles were just the start of the sketch which is seen as perhaps the masterpiece in the repertoire of The Two Ronnies
The four candles were just the start of the sketch which is seen as perhaps the masterpiece in the repertoire of The Two Ronnies

The Two Ronnies' most well known sketch, Four Candles, featured Ronnie Corbett as the owner of a hardware shop, attempting to make sense of Ronnie Barker's long and ambiguous shopping list of items.

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The original script for the sketch sold for £48,500 in December 2007, after a private buyer outbid eight other comedy fans to take home a slice of television history.

Famed for its hilarious word play and use of homophones, the sketch's transcript is as entertaining now as it was when first scripted in 1976.

Stage directions:

In a hardware store, Ronnie Corbett stands behind the counter after serving a customer.

Ronnie Barker enters the shop, wearing dirty overalls and a beanie hat.

BARKER: Four Candles!

CORBETT: Four Candles?

BARKER: Four Candles.

Corbett goes to fetch a box and brings back four white candles. He puts them in front of Barker on the counter.

BARKER: No, four candles!

Corbett looks puzzled.

CORBETT: Well there you are, four candles!

BARKER: No, fork 'andles! 'Andles for forks!

Corbett glares at Barker before reaching down to put the candles away. He then walks across the shop and returns with a fork handle.

CORBETT: Fork handles. Thought you said 'four candles!' Next?

BARKER: Got any plugs?

CORBETT: Plugs. What kind of plugs?

BARKER: A rubber one, bathroom.

Corbett raises his eyebrows, turns and fetches a box full of rubber bath plugs. He places it on the counter and pulls out two different sizes.

CORBETT: What size?

BARKER: Thirteen amp!

Corbett stares at Barker, clearly frustrated. He turns to put the box away, and then looks back again.

CORBETT: It's electric plug, electric bathroom plugs, we call them, in the trade. Electric bathroom plugs!

He gets out another box and places an electronic plug on the counter.

BARKER: Saw tips!

CORBETT: Saw tips?

Confused, Corbett looks around the shop, before looking back at Barker.

CORBETT: What d'you want? Ointment, or something like that?

BARKER: No, saw tips, for covering the saws.

CORBETT: Oh, no haven't got any, haven't got any. Comin' in, but we haven't got any.

BARKER: Got any 'Os!

CORBETT: 'Os?

BARKER: 'Os.

Corbett goes back to the place where he picked up the fork handle, and returns with a garden hoe.

BARKER: No, 'Os!

CORBETT: 'Os! I thought you meant 'Os!

Corbett, getting flustered, mutters as he put the hoe back and returns with a hose.

CORBETT: When you said 'Os, I thought you said 'O! 'Os!

Corbett places the hose on the counter.

BARKER: No, 'Os!

Corbett looks confused again.

CORBETT: Os? Oh, you mean panty 'Os', panty 'Os'!

He picks up a pair of tights on the counter.

BARKER: No, no, 'Os!' 'Os' for the gate. Mon repose! 'Os'! Letter Os'!

Look of realisation etched on Corbett's face.

CORBETT: Letter Os! You had me going there!

He turns and climbs up a stepladder, brings down a box, takes it to the counter, and searches for a letter O.

CORBETT: How many d'you want?

BARKER: Two.

CORBETT: Two

Corbett places two letter Os on the counter, proceeds to put the box away using the ladder. He then returns to the counter.

CORBETT: Yeah, next?

BARKER: Got any Ps?

Corbett looks visibly flustered.

CORBETT: For Gawd' sake, why didn't you bleedin' tell me that while I was up there? I'm up and down the shop already, it's up and down the bleedin' shop all the time. Honestly, I've got all this shop, I ain't got any help today, it's worth it we plan things.

Muttering as he goes, Corbett takes the ladder again across the store, retrieves the box of letters for a second time and then puts the ladder back in its resting place. He puts the box on the counter, and gets out some letter Ps.

CORBETT: How many d'you want?

BARKER: No! Tins of peas.

Corbett looks at Barker in disbelief.

BARKER: Three tins of peas!

CORBETT: You're havin' me on, aren't ya, you're 'avin' me on?

BARKER: I'm not!

Looking back at Barker, Corbett puts the box under the counter, and reaches up to the shelf to fetch three tins of peas. Places the tins on the counter.

CORBETT: Right, hear you go.

BARKER: Got any pumps?

CORBETT: Pumps?

BARKER: Pumps

CORBETT: Hand pumps, foot pumps? Come on!

BARKER: Foot pumps!

Muttering, Corbett searches the shop looking for foot pumps.

CORBETT: Foot pumps. See a foot pump? Tidy up in here.

He finds a pump and puts it down on the counter.

CORBETT: Here we go.

BARKER: No, pumps for ya feet! Brown pumps, size nine!

Corbett gets very animated.

CORBETT: You are 'avin' me on, you are definitely 'avin' me on!

BARKER: I'm not!

CORBETT: You are 'avin' me on!

Corbett takes back the pump, retrieves a pair of brown foot pumps from a drawer. He slams them down on the counter.

CORBETT: Next?

BARKER: Washers!

CORBETT: What, windscreen washers, car washers, dishwashers, floor washers, back scrubbers, lavatory cleaners, floor washers?

BARKER: Half inch washers!

CORBETT (shouting) : Oh, tap washers, tap washers? Look, I've had just about enough of this, give us that list.

Corbett snatches the list from Barker.

CORBETT: I'll get it all myself down here!

He reads through the list.

CORBETT: What's this? What's that? Oh that does it! that does have - I have just about had enough of it.

He turns his back on Barker and calls for his assistant.

CORBETT: Mr Jones! You come out and serve this customer please. I've had just about had enough of this.

Mr Jones comes to the front of the shop and Corbett thrusts the list into his hands.

CORBETT: Look what he's got on there! Look what he's got on there!

Corbett gives Barker one last glare and then exits the scene. Mr Jones walks across to a drawer on the other side of the shop, and opens it.

JONES: Right! How many would you like? One or two?

He removes a towel on the drawer to remove a sign which reads 'Bill hooks!'

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