Ronnie 'retired too soon'

Corbett talks of his partner

Ronnie Barker retired from comedy too early, his partner Ronnie Corbett has said.

Barker partner, who died last year at 76 following heart problems, retired from perfoming in the late Eighties to run an antiques shop in Chipping Norton.

Now Corbett has told the Cheltenham Literature Festival: ‘There was a huge lot more to be mined from his talent. But he was a very private person and he felt enough was enough.’

Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe had both died of heart attacks in 1984 and Barker, who had been privately suffering problems, did not want the same fate.

Corbett also told the book festival that Barker was never comfortable making public appearances.

‘If you don't do something very early in your life it's very difficult to hone a technique when you are an extremely well-known person,’ he said.

‘Because he was such a wonderful character actor, he didn't know which character to be when he opened the village fete, so he just wouldn't do them.’

Corbett added: ‘He always said he didn't like dressing up as a lady, but he did a lot more of it than you would expect from someone who didn't like it He looked wonderful as Elizabeth Taylor.’

Corbett also revealed how an ironmonger had given Barker the idea for his most famous Two Ronnies sketch when he wrote to Barker about a mix-up between ’fork handles’ and ‘four candles’.

Published: 9 Oct 2006

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