The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook (TV Recording): BBC TV Centre, London 2005
The Christmas Cracker: Royal Festival Hall, London, 2009
I saw Ronnie Corbett appear with Ronnie Barker at a BBC recording of The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook in 2005. At the end of the recording the audience gave the stars the standing ovation they so richly deserved. I have never been in a room where the audience gave such warmth to two outstanding comedy legends.
A year after Barker died in October 2005, I attended a book signing at the National Theatre in London. The book in question was And It’s Goodnight From Him… The Autobiography of The Two Ronnies (2006) written by Ronnie Corbett who was being interviewed at the theatre about the show. It was clear that Corbett dearly missed Barker (like the audience did) however, the infamously minute jovial, quick-witted Scotsman dressed in immaculate attire sat holding a glass of champagne whilst regaling tales of his career.
At the end of the interview, the floor was opened for questions from the audience. I nervously stood up and explained that I was lucky enough to be at the recording of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook surrounded by writers in the audience that night and asked about how the sketches were picked from the all the different writers for the show. After explaining that both he and Barker marked every joke and sketch submitted by the writers based on their laughs to whittle them down, Corbett then told the famous story about how brilliant sketches were given to the show by an unknown writer called Gerald Wiley who unbeknownst to cast and crew was later found out to be Ronnie Barker. Barker had wanted to write under a pseudonym so that the sketches could stand up on their own and not have a famous name attached to them. ‘He was a great man’, said a saddened Corbett to the audience after explaining the story. ‘You are a great man too. He was a great character actor and you are a great comedian.’ I said and the audience roared its approval. Corbett suddenly brightened, acknowledged my compliment by lifting his glass of champagne in my direction and said thank you. At the end of the evening I met Ronnie Corbett and he signed a copy of the book which is a wonderful account of a glitteringly funny career of two comedy greats.
In 2009, I saw Corbett appear at The Royal Festival Hall with Sandi Toksvig in a show called The Christmas Cracker which was part of the London South Bank Christmas Festival that year. The show, a celebration of the festive season was okay but Corbett stood out and proved yet again what a great comedian he was.