Ronnie Corbett talks to TV Times magazine about the GOLD series The Two Ronnies Spectacle (Wednesday), and thanks David Frost for launching him to stardom as he also unearths a remarkable memorabilia collection made by his comedy partner Ronnie Barker…
We’ve heard that you owe your career – in part – to the late David Frost…
“David was entirely the making of my career. David picked me out of nightclubs and put me on national television on The Frost Report. If the musical Twang!! which I was in, had run at all and had been any kind of success I don’t know where I’d have been! David’s decision to use me with Ron and John Cleese was the making of me.
In Gold’s The Two Ronnies Spectacle, an amazing secret archive of material collected by Ronnie Barker is unearthed. What did you think when you saw it?
“I went to see it all and it’s housed in a very strange old building within the Victoria & Albert museum. I knew Ron kept a collection of old bits of memorabilia, but I never realised it was so extensive. It was nice to browse through his collection. And it was very nice to be reminded of him and his memory. My wife, Anne, and I were very sad when his wife Joy [who died in 2011] went because Anne was very close to her.”
Why do you think he kept so much?
“It was very important to Ron what people thought and he would send handwritten replies to his fans.”
During the making of Frost on Sunday, there was a mystery surrounding the identity of a certain writer called Gerald Wiley, who apparently invited everyone to a restaurant one evening…
“Ron told me on the afternoon before the meal that he was in fact Gerald Wiley, he was very polite that way. At the meal there was an empty place set for Mr Wiley and then Ron said: ‘Gerald will not be coming because I’m Mr Wiley.'”
In 1971 your legendary Saturday night show The Two Ronnies was screened for the first time. Were you thrilled to have your own primetime show?
“Oh yes, oh yes. We were very excited to be at the BBC. We’d done the big shows with Frost on Sunday, so we were used to the atmosphere and the razzmatazz and we put it to good use on The Two Ronnies.”
Probably your best remembered sketch is the classic Four Candles skit…
“It was just the most wonderful sketch although I’m almost sick to death of seeing it now. Ron was never happy with the ending of the sketch, but you didn’t need much of an ending after you’d had such a good idea.”
What other sketches were your favourite?
“I also enjoyed the Mastermind sketch, which David Renwick [who penned One Foot in the Grave] wrote. We had very good writers. We were very blessed.”
During this Gold series you are also reintroduced to the armchair from which you gave your legendary monologues…
“I think it had been re-upholstered, but it was lovely to see it. The whole series has been a very caring exercise by the people who’ve made it and I’m very grateful to be part of it.”