Ronnie's gangland past

Corbett confesses his crime links

Ronnie Corbett, the epitome of respectable, mild-mannered suburbia, has confessed that he once had links to London’s gangland.

The comic, who turns 74 next month, admitted he used to mingle with the criminal world in the Sixties, when the crooks ran the clubs he performed in. And he says he would even go drinking with them, getting to know some celebrated criminals quite well..

“One knew villains at that time,” he admits in an interview in today’s Sunday Times Scotland: “They did run the clubs and I did come into contact with them.

"We used to do a lot of drinking together in a pub in Belgravia called Paddy Kennedy's. Not the Krays and that lot. I knew the half-classy villains.

“I did know a few of the Great Train Robbers quite well, Bruce Reynolds in particular. Those kind of people looked after you a bit when you were out and about.

“I didn't attack anyone with a golf club. But I did know a lot of faces."

Corbett, speaking to publicise the release of his live DVD tomorrow, also praises the new generation of comics, unlike many of his era who often seem to resent later talent.

 "I'm from a vaudeville, comic acting tradition. But that doesn't mean

I can't be amazed by the bravery of the new way,” he said.

"You look at Billy Connolly — he does three hours on stage. How can he do that, just talk for three hours? It's astonishing. Or Rob Brydon, who plays a very clever version of himself on stage.

“It's a dazzling new style. I love it all. They're the most off-the-wall people, whereas I am very firmly on the wall. I look at them and think, if only I could do that.

“I came up through the Moss Empire variety theatres where you did seven minutes, that was it. You had an act but you couldn't think on your feet, like these new guys.

"We didn't take chances because we weren't allowed to.”


>> To read the interview in full

Published: 14 Nov 2004

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