It’s been over a year since Ronnie Corbett died so to commemorate that anniversary, here’s my wee tribute.
Along with most of the population, Saturday nights for my family in the ‘70s and early ‘80s meant The Two Ronnies. Sitting on the floor (in a family of six, someone always had to sit on the floor) in front of a roaring gas fire, one side of me burning up, the other ice-cold, enjoying our default TV snack of a mug of Cadbury’s hot chocolate and a slice of fruit loaf, I’d stare up at the impressive 22-inch screen as I waited for it to warm up and Ronnies Barker and Corbett to finally appear.
The Two Ronnies is thought of as pretty mainstream, but the writing was sharp and witty, leading to some outstanding comedy moments. The mix of sketches, the clever performances and the innuendo laden songs appealed to all ages. I particularly enjoyed The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town. Written by Spike Milllgan and Gerald Wiley (the pseudonym used by Ronnie Barker), it featured a Jack the Ripper style madman stalking the streets of Victorian London, who killed or stunned his victims by blowing them a raspberry. Which was hilarious in the 1970s.
Of course their most well-known sketch is the classic Four Candles, where a shopkeeper and a customer continually misunderstand each other.
And the brilliant Mastermind sketch, in which Ronnie specializes in answering the question before last.
I also loved Sorry!, where Ronnie played Timothy Lumsden, a mild-mannered librarian firmly attached to his mother’s apron strings. I still think ‘Language Timothy!’ whenever I hear some particularly fruity swearing.
In later years, he appeared in some great cameos, including this one in Extras, where he played a naughty version of himself who gets caught taking cocaine at the Baftas.
Even my daughter was sad after hearing about the death of the funny man who falls off the treadmill in the Is This the Way to Amarillo video.
We’ll finish with some of the classic Two Ronnies news headlines:
“It was revealed in a government survey published today that the Prime Minister is doing the work of two men: Laurel and Hardy.”
“There was a fire at the main Inland Revenue office in London today, but it was put out before any serious good was done.”
“A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston by-pass. Motorists are asked to be on the look-out for 16 hardened criminals.”
“We will be talking to an out-of-work contortionist who says he can no longer make ends meet.”
“We’ve just heard that in the English Channel, a ship carrying red paint has collided with a ship carrying purple paint. It is believed that both crews have been marooned.”
It’s goodnight from me. And it’s goodnight from him.