BBC HomeExplore the BBC

15 September 2014
Accessibility help
Text only

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

The Two Ronnies

Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker

Possibly the most robust long-running sketch show ever made and certainly one of the most successful, The Two Ronnies, in its 17 years of regular programming, regularly dominated the schedules.

Ronnies Barker and Corbett did their first work on The Frost Report, but it was obvious even then that they weren't made for someone else's format and were quickly shuffled into their own.

As the "tramps"

The comparison between the Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise is inevitable and always made. Really though there wasn't much similarity except that they were duos, male, and bipeds.

Eric and Ernie had strict roles of funny man and straight man, while the Ronnies could each handle the laughs, and both could slip into genuine character roles quite happily. Both were successful away from each other – Corbett with formats like Sorry!, and Barker of course with Porridge and Open All Hours.

A "trenches" sketch

The Two Ronnies featured sketches written by a wide range of writers with David Nobbs, John Cleese, David Renwick, Spike Milligan being just a tiny sample.

Whilst Not the Nine O'Clock news was the crucible of alternative writing talent in the 80s, the Ronnies broader feel allowed a huge range of writing and writers to get their material on air.

As characters Sid and George

Many of the sketches were written by the elusive Gerald Wiley, who would post his sketches but never appear at writing meetings.  This turned out to be the typically self-effacing Ronnie Barker, trying not to bully his stuff onto the screen – despite this, Barker remains one of the most prolific sketch writers in British comedy, with hundreds to his name, as well as the duo's spin-off films.

If you were anything from five upwards during the 80s, you had a favourite Ronnies moment. Whilst they had their hit and miss moments, the in-programme comedy dramas were well-written, particularly The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town, penned by Milligan, and The Worm That Turned, where all the men wore pinnies and Diana Dors lorded it over the men of the world.

The Two Ronnies

The best sketches must include David Renwick's Mastermind sketch, still a classic, in which Corbett specializes in answering the question before last.  The musical numbers were cleverly written, but sometimes unclearly sung, which was a shame since the lyrics were often very sharp.

The Two Ronnies sometimes unfairly gets lumped in as an old warhorse of a show. In fact, it was mostly sharp, well-written and funny, with a wealth of writing talent making it the BBC's biggest comedy for most of the 1980s.

Cast

Ronnie Corbett
performer
Ronnie Barker
performer

Crew

Gerald Wiley (Ronnie Barker)
writer
Peter Vincent
writer
Spike Mullins
writer
David Nobbs
writer
Barry Cryer
writer
David Renwick
writer
Dick Vosburgh
writer
David McKellar
writer
Garry Chambers
writer
Ian Davidson
script associate
Terry Hughes
producer
Michael Hurll
producer
Marcus Plantin
producer
Paul Jackson
producer
Peter Whitmore
producer
Brian Penders
producer
Ben Kellett
producer
Bill Wilson
producer
Marcus Mortimer
producer
James Gilbert
executive producer

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy