And it's goodnight from him

Ronnie Barker dies at 76

Ronnie Barker has died at the age of 76.

The comic, actor and scriptwriter had a long history of heart trouble, which forced him to retired from showbuisness 17 years ago.

But last year he was awarded a lifetime achievement Bafta for his TV work, which led to a return for the Two Ronnies.

His agent Rosalind Chatto said: 'He died yesterday after a long period of heart trouble.He died peacefully and his wife was with him. He had been nursed at home for a long time.'

Tributes immediately started pouring in for the comedy legend.

David Jason, who starred alongside him in Open All Hours and Porridge, called him "a dear friend and someone for whom I had the greatest respect'

'Working with Ronnie was always a joy and were without doubt some of the best years of my career.'

Ronnie Corbett said: 'Ronnie was pure gold in triplicate - as a performer; a writer and a friend.

'We worked together since 1965 and we 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. He was delighted that the Two Ronnies Sketchbook had gone so well, bringing us to a new generation of audiences.'

John Cleese, who starred alongside Barker in the The Frost Report and its famous 'I look down on him...' sketch , said: 'I was very sad to hear of the death of Ronnie Barker, who was such a warm, friendly and encouraging presence to have when I started in television. He was also a great comic actor to learn from.'

Michael Palin said: "I can't think of anyone who knew how to play comedy better than Ronnie Barker and I count myself enormously fortunate to have known and worked with him

Chat show host Michael Parkinson said: ‘"He was not just a comic. He had a writer's ear for a good script and was a very good writer himself.’

Writer Barry Cryer, who had known Barker for 40 years, added: 'He was a one-off. I put him in the same league as Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.'

Michael Hurll, producer of The Two Ronnies, said: "We will never see his like again. You felt safe with him. The whole family could watch him.’

Barker was born in Bedford in 1929, and seemed destined for an typical middle-class career as an architect or  bank manager, but he joined Aylesbury Repertory Company in 1948 and got the acting bug.

He first appeared in the West End stage at the invitation of Sir Peter Hall in 1955 and appeared in several more plays,  before breaking into radio, notably  The Navy Lark.

He first teamed up with Ronnie Corbett in 1966’s The Frost Report, where he appeared alongside John Cleese, David Frost and Sheila Steafel.

In 1971 the Two Ronnies started, and at its peak, attracted more than 17 million viewers.

Barker wrote many of the scripts, too, initially submitting them anonymously under the pseudonym Gerald Wiley so they would be given no special treatment. Eventually, he revealed to the rest of the team his true identity.

Barker also found success as Fletcher in Porridge  and Open All Hours, with David Jason,

He left showbusiness in 1988 to open an antique shop near his Oxfordshire home. He was coaxed back into work in 2002, appearing as Winston Churchill's manservant in the TV drama  The Gathering Storm.

He leaves a wife, Joy, and three children, actress Charlotte Barker, the actor Adam Barker and Larry Barker.

BBC One will be airing a tribute to Ronnie Barker's life at 10.35pm tonight, and on Friday there will be a repeat of the Bafta tribute to Barker at 9pm.

>> Review of Ronnie Barker's biography

>> Click here to leave your tributes on our Forum


Published: 4 Oct 2005

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.