Delightful article. Brought both a laugh and a tear.
It’s ten years ago today that much-loved comedian, writer and actor Ronnie Barker passed away. By then, despite having retired way back in 1987, he had already won four BAFTAs, a Royal Television Society award for Outstanding Creative Achievement and been made an OBE. Ronnie Barker – Mispronunciation Sketch He’d also produced …
"...The Worm that Turned this would never get past the BBC PC Soviet now..."
Not one of their funniest outings that one. There was a bit too much of the 'someone's sordid sexual fantasy made real' about it. I mean to say; a future world where the men are force-feminised, made to wear dresses and act submissively, by a ruling elite of hot women in mini-skirted pseudo-SS uniforms and big boots... er... OK.... can we move along here?...
I think Barker's career was a mixed bag:
* Some of the early Python-esque stuff was classic
* The Two Ronnies had some great moments but also some awful ones [HINT: 'funny' songs never are]
* I never saw what anyone liked about Porridge. I always thought it was really unfunny.
* The less said about Open All Hours, the better
I disagree with the 'un-pc' remark in open all hours. The show worked at all levels and was never offensive, stutter or not.
The modern comic writers just don't have that magic style of innocent and witty comedic timing. There was always something that people could enjoy at all levels, something that people will say when Brucie leaves us (I call him Mr Saturday Night). Most modern writers try and stay on the inside of politically correct and more often than not produce something that maybe is only so so. R&R proves that good writing is timeless.
Take a moment to remember that other, natural stutterer, Patrick Campbell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Campbell,_3rd_Baron_Glenavy
The collections of his articles include a couple of items about his encounters with another stutterer in Dublin. It's probably essential to have heard the man himself to appreciate them but they always have me laughing uncontrollably whenever I read them.
Edit. The two encounters with Theo I'm thinking of are the dinner party & the one set up by his editor about archaeological remains. If anyone has a reference to any others I'd love to hear of it.
We-e-e-ll, no-one can touch Ronnie and Eric when it comes to quality word-play but I would hold up Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the logical successors. Given that their movies are usually described as "homages" rather than biting satire and are generally a class above the rest on offer ("Scary Movie [x]", anyone?)
The Two Ronnies also had a running theme of role reversal. They created a fictional world where men wore dresses and were the underclass - while women were macho and dressed as men. Not sure what their target was. It did highlight the way gender conventions are deeply ingrained in our culture - before LGBT became a political issue.
I read this article sitting in a Starbucks (sheltering from the rain) in , Falls Church, Washington DC.
I'd played a couple of the clips when I realised that I had a bit of an audience.
A good half hour of chat followed and each of the clips was shown at least twice.
A few of those who were old enough to remember Monty Python when it was orgiginally broadcast got the 'Four Candles' play on words. Others took their time but got it eventually.
The general consensus was 'Why don't we get comedy like that on US TV'. I could mostly say the same about ours at the moment. The word 'Gentle' is a perfect description. A far cry from the normal 'Embarass or Humilitate Someone' we seem to get now in most Comedy.
I think that BBC Worldwide will be getting a few $$$ in dowloads from those that saw these bits.
Well done for a really great article. Spot on.
In the case of the Navy Lark, best 4 seamen : Fatso Johnson, Commander Stanton, Lt Queeg and Commander Bell
If you haven't listened to it, the hapless assistant to CPO Pertwee's schemes, the ship's captain who only wants to go fishing, a Scottish(?) chief engineer who knows nothing about mechanical things, and a plain speaking Yorkshireman at the Admiralty respectively.
I only have to hear the opening theme to have instant memories of the taste of Sunday dinner (lunch) warm apple pie and custard.
The diffident uttering of Leslie Phillips's "Left hand down a bit" - followed by the lookout's "Everybdy down!" Was the latter Ronnie Barker or Tenniel Evans ("Taffy" Goldstein)?
The same gustatory memories are triggered by "Hello I'm Julian, and this is my friend Sandy" from"Beyond Our Ken/Round The Horne". That programme was surprisingly risque for a Sunday family listening slot.
Barker inherited Lt. Queeg. The character was originally performed by Scottish comedian Chic Murray, and the character was so popular that when Chic said he wouldn't do it any more, Ronnie kept the character alive with a near perfect imitation.
'Doing voices' was common on BBC radio shows, but The Navy Lark took it to the limit with audience favorite characters voiced by other stalwarts like Jon Pertwee (who can forget Commander Wetherby once you had heard him), Michael Bates (the Pardre, amongst others), and Heather Chasen, and even relatively ordinary actors (and the writer!) often voicing more than one regular character.
Thanks for that! I have just consumed an evening watching all the clips, my wife who is Russian watched Futtocks End with me, normally she is not a fan of British comedy ( If a Russian cracks an unfunny joke they will often describe it as 'British Humour'), she laughed all the way through it.
Not only a great comedy writer but he had a unique ability for creating original characters and a special way with words.
I always liked the Piggy Malone sketches.
The comedians of that era did many "silent" films like "Futtocks End". They were usually packed with familiar comedians in sometimes cameo roles. "A Home of Your Own", "By The Sea", "The Plank", and "Rhubarb, Rhubarb" were memorable. Ronnie Barker was not in the latter two - possibly there were two groups of comedians who worked together.
Benny Hill was popular worldwide because his "silent" sketches were universal.
I was seeing Barker in Open All Hours with Jason and Baron just blew me away as a kid. It gave David Jason his first big role and turned him into a household name. There's nothing nasty in it, no one is ever ridiculed except Granville and that's only 'cos he's youngish and a bit dopey at times. Even when people from other races are brought into the story it's done with dune respect.
On this side of the Pond, those who remember Ronnie Barker will likely do so for his Rindercella sketch, which I first heard (re)broadcast on the radio, perhaps on Firesign Theater, in the early '70's.
I vividly remember rolling on the floor with tears in my eyes, arms around my mid-section, trying to stifle convulsive laughter, so as not to miss a wingle sord.
recently and their material is a fresh today as it was when originally broadcast.
Time flies, he retired so long ago.
Yes, Minister is still doing the rounds, too, on some US Public TV stations. Just proves it's hard to beat the BBC oldies.
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