6 February 2007 | BJJManchester
One of the all-time greats
Between 1971 and 1987,the brilliant Ronnie Barker,and his diminutive but equally talented partner Ronnie Corbett,produced and performed arguably the perfect peak-time family sketch show in the UK.THE TWO RONNIES lacked the long lasting influence and greater World-wide success of MONTY PYTHON,and the more savage,cutting-edge style of NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS,but their most memorable sketches can still compete with the best of them,and as far as sketch humour for the whole family is concerned(albeit often laced with smut and innuendo),no programme has ever properly replaced it since it's departure.
To the unfamiliar,virtually every TWO RONNIES show consisted of the following format:Messurs Barker and Corbett would start the programme,sat behind a desk together,starting with usually corny but undeniably funny fake news items,leading on to a solo turn by Barker,with assorted duologue's (often in pubs or drawing room parties) and sketches,Corbett performing a monologue from a comfortable armchair(usually rather bigger than him),an elaborate filmed sketch,usually musical,or sometimes a serial,then ending with more fake news before ending with "It's a good night from me.." (Corbett),"...and a good night from him" (Barker).Over it's long run,the show kept a remarkable comic consistency,only very occasionally being over-stretched,weak,repetitive or misjudged.The main reason for this was perhaps the large number of writers involved,the most notable being perhaps Barker himself,who sent in sketches under various moniker's (Gerald Wiley the best known) before being found out.
With the show's peak years being the 1970's,there was of course much non-PC material which would be difficult to repeat three decades later,and in the compilation programme THE TWO RONNIES SKETCHBOOK (2005),it was obvious that certain modifications had to be made for more modern TV audiences.Despite this,the high comedic quality of the material was still readily apparent,as was the enormous affection for the Ronnies themselves.It was a great joy to see Ronnie Barker on British TV screens again,but it was a greater sadness when Barker sadly died later in the year.The British public were deeply moved by his passing,maybe because in one sense it truly meant the end of an era.An era when TV bosses let such great talents as the Two Ronnies,Morecambe and Wise,Frankie Howerd,Tommy Cooper,Les Dawson,et al entertain and amuse us on peak-time British TV in the 70's,whereas now execs seem to think that infesting our screens with tedious,banal,dreary and mostly pathetic 'reality' shows with such non-talents as Jordan,Sophie Anderton,Kerry Katona and Paul Burrell are what the public wants, when the fact is they actually don't.There are still talented actors,writers,singers and comedians out there.All the execs have to do is use them like before several decades ago.
RATING- 9 out of 10.