Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Damn

Mutterings continued.

Damn, damn, damn.

From the Mirror:

..AND IT'S GOODNIGHT FROM HIM

SHOWBIZ IN MOURNING FOR RONNIE BARKER: 1929 - 2005
By Fiona Cummins Showbiz Reporter

SHOWBIZ stars were united in tribute last night to comedy legend Ronnie Barker.

The TV giant, who had a history of heart trouble, died peacefully aged 76 with Joy, his wife of 48 years, at his side.

Ronnie, one of the most versatile comic writers and actors of his generation, brought laughter to millions in sitcoms Porridge and Open All Hours.

But it was with sketch show The Two Ronnies that he achieved worldwide fame.

Partner Ronnie Corbett said: "Ronnie was pure gold in triplicate - as a performer, a writer and a friend.

"We worked together since 1965 and never had a cross word. It was 40 years of harmonious joy, nothing but an absolute pleasure.

"I will miss him terribly, but he went out on a lift."

The late legend, who died on Monday, once said: "I'd like to be remembered as one of the funniest men people have seen on television."

Last night's avalanche of tributes made it clear he got his wish. Open All Hours co-star David Jason said: "Working with Ronnie was always a joy and were without doubt some of the best years of my career. The world of entertainment has lost a huge talent."

Monty Python's Michael Palin said: "He had this extraordinary ability to make the nation laugh, probably more often than anyone else I know.

"I count myself enormously fortunate to have known and worked with him."

John Cleese, who began his TV comedy career with him in 60s series The Frost Report, called him "a warm, friendly and encouraging presence to have when I started".

He was "a great comic actor to learn from", he added. Funnyman Peter Kay said: "He made me laugh so much. I'm just so lucky to have been able to get to know my hero and the person that I aspire to be."

Comedy writer Barry Cryer put him on a par with film legends Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.

"You couldn't believe it was the same man if you watched Porridge or Open All Hours," he said. "He was an amazing character actor." In recent weeks Ronnie's wife Joy had helped look after the ailing dad-of-three at home in Chipping Norton, Oxon.

In the last 24 hours of his life he was moved to a hospice, where he died at 12.15pm on Monday.

Corbett, 74, last saw him last week at the filming of ITV1's Avenue of the Stars. He said: "He felt weak and didn't look at all well.

"I thought then that Ron was rather resigned to it all. I hope he's in a better place now."

The Two Ronnies ran from 1971 to 1987. Its enduring appeal was proved when it returned to TV this year in The Two Ronnies Sketchbook, a highlight of the best scenes. The pair's bickering tramps and their Four Candles sketch, in which Barker tries to buy fork handles at a hardware store, still made millions laugh.

Corbett said of his pal: "He was delighted the Two Ronnies Sketchbook had gone so well, bringing us to a new generation of audiences." Last night BBC1 aired a half-hour special on his life.

This Friday it will repeat a show screened last year to mark his lifetime achievement Bafta.

Ronnie was born Ronald William George Barker in September 25, 1929 in Bedford

After a spell as a bank clerk, he joined the Manchester Repertory Company as an assistant stage manager and by 1955 was appearing in West End shows such as Midsummer Night's Dream. He met Corbett when both were writers on The Frost Report in 1966.

After the start of the Two Ronnies, Barker went on to star as Fletcher, opposite Richard Beckinsale, in prison sitcom Porridge.

He also played stuttering shopkeeper Arkwright, his favourite character, in Open All Hours, had other parts in The Saint and The Avengers and wrote several books. He was awarded an OBE in 1978.

He officially retired in 1987 but was lured back in 1999 to appear in a Two Ronnies retrospective.

And in 2002 he played Winston Churchill's butler Inches in BBC drama The Gathering Storm.

Other tributes to his wide-ranging talent came from the likes of Bruce Forsyth, who said: "You can't call Ronnie Barker a comedian - he was an actor and a great writer."

Des O'Connor said: "He was such a brilliant and versatile actor, a superb comedian and a wonderful wordsmith."

And Two Ronnies producer Michael Hurll said: "There was a rhythm to a joke and he was able to show us how that worked. It worked every time."

HIS TOP 10 JOKES

1. THE search for the man who terrorises nudist camps with a bacon slicer goes on. Inspector Lemuel Jones had a tip-off this morning, but hopes to be back on duty tomorrow.

2. HAVE you heard the one about the retired general who said he had not had sex since 1956? His friend said: "`That's a long time ago." "I don't know," the general replied, "it's only 20.27 now."

3. THE man who invented the zip fastener was today honoured with a lifetime peerage. He will now be known as the Lord of the Flies.

4. IN a packed programme tonight we will be talking to an out-of-work contortionist who says he can no longer make ends meet.

5. THE toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.

6. A NEW publishing venture was announced today, the Stock Breeders Gazette and Playboy magazine are to get together to produce the Farmer Sutra.

7. ARNOLD Crump, a 6ft 9ins, ham-fisted, hairy drunk with a short temper, bad breath, acne, dandruff and fleas, was named by Scotland Yard today as Britain's most unwanted man.

8. A FAMOUS Spoonerism from sitcom Open All Hours: "Don't just crit there siticising."

9. GEORGE Mumble the Bodmin man who swallowed 200 weight of laxative for a bet on coronation night has celebrated his Silver Jubilee. He's been on the throne for 25 years.

AND HIS No1 SKETCH

RONNIE Corbett is assistant in hardware shop. Ronnie Barker enters:

BARKER: Four Candles!

CORBETT: Four Candles?

BARKER: Four Candles.

(Corbett gets out four candles)

BARKER: No, four candles!

CORBETT (confused): Well there you are, four candles!

BARKER: No, 'andles for forks!

CORBETT (muttering): Thought you said four candles! Next?

BARKER: Got any plugs?

CORBETT: Plugs. What kind of plugs?

BARKER: A rubber one, bathroom.

(Corbett gets bath plugs)

CORBETT: What size?

BARKER: Thirteen amp!

CORBETT: It's electric bathroom plugs, we call them. Next?

BARKER: O's!

CORBETT: O's?

BARKER: O's. (Corbett gets a hoe)

BARKER: No, no, O's! for the gate. Mon Repose! O's! Letter O's!

CORBETT: Letter O's! Next

BARKER: Got any P's?

CORBETT: Why didn't you bleedin' tell me that while I was up there then? BARKER: No! Tins of peas. Three tins

CORBETT: You're 'avin' me on?

BARKER: I'm not! (Corbett gets peas)

He grabs shopping list and calls to shop owner Mr Jones to read it.

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

JONES: How many would ya like?

Opens drawer marked BILL HOOKS

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