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Ronnie Barker Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (53)  | Personal Quotes (22)

Overview (5)

Born in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England, UK
Died in Adderbury, Oxfordshire, England, UK  (heart problems)
Birth NameRonald William George Barker
Nickname The Guvnor
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Ronnie Barker's remarkable versatility as a performer can be traced back to his time in repertory theatre, where he was able to play a wide range of roles and develop his talent for accents, voices and verbal dexterity. It was during this time that he met Glenn Melvyn, who taught him how to stammer (something he would later use to great effect in the sitcom Open All Hours (1976)). Melvyn also gave Ronnie his break into television by offering him a role in I'm Not Bothered (1956). During the 1960s, Ronnie became well-established in radio, providing multiple voices for "The Navy Lark" and working with comedy great Jon Pertwee. He also became a regular face on television, appearing in The Frost Report (1966) (perhaps most memorably in a sketch about Britain's class system, with John Cleese and Ronnie Corbett) and playing character roles on The Saint (1962) and The Avengers (1961).

In 1971, Ronnie teamed up with Ronnie Corbett again, this time for a BBC sketch series called The Two Ronnies (1971). This series proved enormously popular, continuing until the late 1980s. In addition to "The Two Ronnies", Barker starred on the popular BBC sitcoms Porridge (1974) (as a cockney prisoner) and Open All Hours (1976) (as a stammering Northern shopkeeper). In fact, only Leonard Rossiter could be said to have rivaled him during this time for the crown of British television's most popular comedy star. In 1982, he revived silent comedy in By the Sea (1982). Despite his extrovert performances on television, Barker remained a quiet, retiring individual in his personal life, much preferring to spend time with his family rather than mix with the celebrity crowd. This humility, combined with memories of his extraordinary abilities, meant that he continued to be greatly respected by his fellow professionals. In a BAFTA special shown by the BBC in 2004, stars as diverse as Gene Wilder, Peter Kay and Peter Hall paid tribute to his contribution to comedy and British television in general. Ronnie Barker died on 3 October 2005 after suffering from heart problems.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Beryl (Joy) Joyce Tubb (8 July 1957 - 3 October 2005) ( his death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (53)

He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1978 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to entertainment.
He was the father of the actress Charlotte Barker, the actor Adam Barker and Larry Barker (born in 1959).
He became well-known for the hugely popular radio comedy series "The Navy Lark", in which he played various characters. The series was conceived by fellow actor Jon Pertwee and was based on his experience in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Barker later admitted that the two of them would often find themselves almost paralytic with laughter during rehearsals for it.
Although a great comedy actor in his own right (Porridge (1974), Open All Hours (1976)), he is perhaps best known for his longstanding comic double-act with Ronnie Corbett in The Two Ronnies (1971).
Despite opting to appear frequently in drag in The Two Ronnies (1971) as part of a sketch, he intensely disliked dressing as a woman.
He was one of the actors originally wanted for the part of Claudius in I, Claudius (1976), but it eventually went to Derek Jacobi.
At the end of The Two Ronnies (1971), they would always close with Ronnie Corbett saying "Well, it's Goodnight from me", to which Ronnie Barker would reply "And, it's Goodnight from him".
Whilst on holiday in Australia, he was approached by a man who asked "Hey, are you that Ronnie Barker?". Ronnie calmly replied in a mock Australian accent "Sorry mate, a lot of people say that, but I ain't him."
His first job was that of a stage hand at The Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, UK. At that time the theatre was a rep and one night Ronnie was thrust on stage to cover for someone - the rest, as they say, is history. Although considered a comic actor he has portrayed a vast array of characters - especially on the stage - and was considered one of Britain's finest character actors.
His best friends were Ronnie Corbett and David Jason.
He claimed that making Open All Hours (1976) was the happiest experience of his career.
In 2004, he received a lifetime achievement award from the British Academy of film and Television Arts. He earned three other BAFTA awards as well.
He initially trained as an architect but decided that he did not have the necessary talents. His first paid job was as a bank clerk.
Mr. Barker's funeral was held in the leafy surroundings of Banbury Crematorium in Oxfordshire where his body was taken in a Volvo hearse. Banbury is just a few miles from his home village of Dean near Chipping Norton where he operated an antique shop the last few years of his life.
The UK's Sun newspaper announced his death with a front page depicting a pair of black horn-rimmed glasses sitting in a spotlight, with the headline "Goodnight from him".
He was encouraged to go into show business by Frank Shelley.
In 2004, he agreed to do another series of The Two Ronnies (1971) (with Ronnie Corbett) for BBC-TV after renewed interest following Barker's Bafta tribute (2004). It was 17 years since the duo last appeared together on TV screens.
In 1988, he retired from acting to run an antiques business.
In the 1970s, Barker and Corbett were two of the highest-paid performers in British television. In 1979, he and Corbett took their families to Australia for a year which enabled them to avoid paying the year's income tax, which then stood at 83% in the UK for top earners. Many film stars and rock stars also left the UK in the 1970s for the same reason.
His nickname for David Jason on Open All Hours (1976) was "little feed".
He wanted to end Open All Hours (1976) after three years, even with audiences of more than 15 million.
He liked to send poems to David Jason. He was constantly playing with words and was very quick at composing verses. He sent one to Jason to commemorate his knighthood in 2005.
Known for being a perfectionist, he monitored David Jason's raspberries carefully for volume, tone and duration on The Two Ronnies (1971) whenever performing "The Phantom Raspberry Blower" sketch; Barker directed him in a sound-booth doing a raspberry version of the 1812 Overture. Jason joked in his autobiography that he would gladly re-stage it at the Royal Albert Hall, and considered "making farting noises into a microphone" one of the most profound jobs he's ever had at the BBC, and proud of his contribution to "that little moment of comic history".
He was known for being genial, open, always looking for what was funny in any situation, and quick-witted.
He lived quietly and shunned the spotlight. He always put family first and hardly ever attended big social events.
David Jason wanted to work with Barker years before Open All Hours (1976) and did as a guest star on Porridge (1974). He believed it profoundly affected the course of his life. He always considered him a mentor whenever they worked together. He never understood why Barker left ITV for the BBC, because he wasn't in the know. He considered working with Barker in an entire series a dream outcome, and the two became close friends. He claimed Barker was very wise and if he thought something was OK, that was good enough. He also believed he was there on the series to be Barker's stooge, and got frustrated when episodes ran long and his part had to be edited down just to feed Barker.
He was a great collector from antique and junk shops. He liked collecting things to have them around, but was never interested in anything valuable, just what appealed to him. He collected little porcelain statuettes of 1920s bathing belles; toy soldiers, boxes of cigarette cards, some unopened; thousands of postcards; albums of the seaside from the turn of the century and one with postcards made of silk, etc. His home was considered a house of wonders, and the walls were covered with wonderful pictures, of all shapes, sizes and styles. David Jason described his house as a treasure trove. He had a driver who took him and Jason looking for bric-a-brac. The tinier and the more offbeat the shop was, and the further it was into the middle of nowhere, the happier he was.
When David Jason was knighted in 2005, he wished Barker had been there to share it with everyone. Jason felt Barker was more deserving of a knighthood, but had died two months previously. But earlier in the year, when Jason's knighthood was announced, he sent him one of his poems to commemorate the event, and at Jason's after party he declaimed it, so Barker was there in word.
He was particularly devastated by Richard Beckinsale's death. He was so upset he couldn't work for several days.
He attended David Jason's 50th birthday party; he parked his car in a neighbouring drive so as not to spoil the surprise. He delivered a speech at the party. Jason said it was a lovely, high-spirited evening and the nicest of surprises, but he wasn't surprised though, because all the lights were off when he arrived - something his wife never did.
On one occasion, while David Jason was a guest in Barker's house, Jason got slightly drunk and couldn't sleep; he saw a door and assuming it led to a flat roof, decided to get some fresh air to help him sleep even though he couldn't see a thing beyond the door. Jason reconsidered after worrying about cutting his feet on any stones. The next morning Jason found the door led to nowhere but a 30ft drop to a disused mill wheel; Barker had a balcony built to prevent any more near tragedies.
He was considered a legend in the British TV business and was admired by many fellow professionals.
He thought about retiring at age 56 after the deaths of Eric Morecambe and Tommy Cooper and working himself into an early grave was playing on his mind. He decided to retire on New Years Day, 1988 at the age of 59. David Jason was disappointed but respected his decision.
A memorial service was held for him at Westminster Abbey on 3 March 2006.
He underwent heart bypass surgery in 1996 and suffered a pulmonary embolism in 1997.
He was a heavy smoker until 1972, when he gave up after having a pre-cancerous growth removed from his throat.
A year before his death he chose not to undergo heart valve replacement surgery and his health rapidly declined.
According to Doctor Who (1963) script editor Terrance Dicks on the DVD commentary for Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks: Episode Three (1973), Barker was considered by producer Barry Letts for a guest role in the series, then starring his friend Jon Pertwee, until inquiries discovered that he would have been too expensive due to the higher fees paid to actors in the light entertainment department of the BBC than the drama department.
Following his death, the Writer of the Year Award at the British Comedy Awards was renamed in his honour.
He wrote the play Mum for his daughter Charlotte Barker in 1998, which was performed at The King's Head Theatre, but garnered a negative response, with Barker stating it got "the worst notices of any play in the history of the theatre.".
A bronze statue of him sculpted by Martin Jennings, and showing him in character as Norman Stanley Fletcher, was unveiled at the entrance of the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in September 2010 by his widow Joy, David Jason, and Ronnie Corbett.
He was considered to voice Zazu in The Lion King (1994).
He turned down the role of Lord Fermleigh in The Missionary (1982) that went to Roland Culver.
He rejected an offer to play Falstaff in in a Royal National Theatre production of Henry IV, Part 1 & 2 in 1987.
He turned down the role of Coleman in Trading Places (1983) that went to Denholm Elliott, his co-star in Robin and Marian (1976).
In his home town of Oxford, a Wetherspoons pub on George Street is named after his Four Candles sketch.
He turned down the role of Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave (1990).
He turned down the role of Reginald Perrin in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976).
He turned down the roles of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973).
In 2015, the Ronnie Barker Comedy Lecture (also referred to as The Ronnie Barker Talk) was commissioned by the BBC at the instigation of the head of comedy commissioning, Shane Allen. The first lecture was given in August 2017 by Ben Elton, whose lecture focused on the future of the British sitcom.
He rarely appeared in public, and when he did, it was almost always in character. He once said, "I've always known I haven't a personality of my own, I have to be someone else to be happy. That's why I became an actor, I suppose.".
In private, he annotated a copy of A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear, penning punch lines of his own for each limerick. On the title page he wrote, "There was an old fossil named Lear, Whose verses were boring and drear. His last lines were worst - just the same as the first! So I've tried to improve on them here." The annotated copy of Lear's book, signed and dated November 2001, was auctioned in 2012.
He was cremated at a private humanist funeral at Banbury Crematorium, which was attended only by family and close friends A public memorial service for Barker was held on 3 March 2006 at Westminster Abbey, with some 2,000 people in attendance. David Jason, Richard Briers, Josephine Tewson, Michael Grade, and Peter Kay all read at the service, while others in attendance included Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Michael Palin, Leslie Phillips, Lenny Henry, Dawn French and June Whitfield. A recording of Barker's rhyming slang sermon from The Two Ronnies (1971) was played, and while the cross was in procession in the aisle of the abbey, it was accompanied by four candles instead of the usual two, in reference to the Four Candles sketch. Barker was the third comedy professional to be given a memorial at Westminster Abbey, after Joyce Grenfell and Les Dawson.

Personal Quotes (22)

It's better to make people laugh than cry.
I knew with Porridge (1974) from the first episode. It was in front of an audience which is a wonderful sounding board as to how well it's going. My wife was in the audience for that and she said afterwards 'This is going to be a big success' and she was right.
[on the death of Jon Pertwee] I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. It was always great fun and we had a lot of laughs. Jon was always very nattily dressed. He was certainly the smartest looking Doctor Who (1963). I last saw him at a party I gave last summer. He was in good spirits and looked very healthy.
We had hoped to have been bringing you Arthur the Human Chameleon, but this afternoon, he crawled across a tartan rug and died of exhaustion.
The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.
Don't just crit their siticising.
I suppose I would like to be remembered as one of the funniest men that people have seen on television.
The marvelous thing about a joke with a double meaning is that it can only mean one thing.
Next week we'll be investigating rumours that the president of the dairy council has become a Mason, and goes around giving his colleagues the 'secret milkshake.'
But first, the news: The House of Commons was sealed off today after police chased an escaped lunatic through the front door during Prime Minister's question time. A spokesman at Scotland Yard said it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
In a packed programme tonight, I shall be having a word with a man who goes in for meditation, because he thinks it's better than sitting around doing nothing.
Many old music hall fans were present at the funeral today of Fred 'Chuckles' Jenkins, Britain's oldest and unfunniest comedian. In tribute, the vicar read out one of Fred's jokes, and the congregation had two minutes silence.
In a packed programme tonight, we will be talking to an out-of-work contortionist who says he can no longer make ends meet.
To get a job where the only thing you have to do in your career is to make people laugh-well, it's the best job in the world.
There was a strange happening during a performance of Elgar's 'Sea Pictures' at a concert hall in Bermuda tonight, when the man playing the triangle disappeared.
We're getting paid just to make ourselves laugh. It's not a bad life, is it?
If you like something, you put it up on the wall. Just sling it on the wall and enjoy it.
I enjoyed Open All Hours (1976) more (than Porridge (1974)) because of David (Jason).
When they says it's gentle, they normally mean they don't think it's very funny.
[announcing his retirement] Witness all ye now here present that I, Ronald William George Barker, known to the world of the footlights as Ronnie Barker, have now stepped from the spotlight after 40 years and whereas I have no longer any claim to the title the Guvnor, being that I no longer hold sway over nor have power to command supporting actors, bit players, stooges and feeds; now this hereby witnesseth that it is my chosen and deliberate intention forthwith to abdicate the said title of the Guvnor in favor of my good loyal and trusty servant David Granville Dithers Jason; and that he now is entitled to bear arms in the dignity of the office and title of the Guvnor and to enjoy all the privileges thereunto belonging. Signed in the presence of these worthies hereunder: Arthur Arkwright, Grocer; Norman S. Fletcher, Director; Rustless of Chrome Hall KGB OM; and Ronnie Barker, the ex-Guvnor. God Save The Queen.
[a poem he composed to David Jason, to commemorate Jason's impending knighthood] Congratulations, little feed/her gracious Majesty decreed/that Granville, little errand lad/and Del Boy, Frost, and others had/all served their nation passing well/so here's to Granville, Frost and Del! The old ex-Guvnor's proud to see/his comrade reach such high degree/knight of the realm, and TV star/who never thought he'd get this far. 'Arise, Sir David', she will say/the sword upon your shoulder lay. I raise a glass filled to the brim/and truly say, 'Good Knight from him.'
He was wonderful. I loved Jon [Jon Pertwee]. I thought he was a very good actor, I don't think he acted enough. Of course he got into Doctor Who (1963), which was wonderful for him, but he got stuck with it a bit, I thought. But I thoroughly enjoyed working with him on stage. We only stole the show in as much as we only said the lines that were in the script of course.

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