Ronnie Barker’s biography

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Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005) was a British actor, comedian, writer, broadcaster and businessman. He was known for his roles in various British comedy television series, such as The Frost Report, Porridge, The Two Ronnies and Open All Hours.

Born in Bedford, he began his acting career in repertory theatre and decided he was best suited to performing comic roles. Barker gained his first acting successes at the Oxford Playhouse and later in various roles in the West End including Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. During this period, he became a cast member on BBC radio and television comedy programmes such as The Navy Lark. Barker got his television break with the satirical sketch series The Frost Report in 1966 where he met future collaborator Ronnie Corbett. He joined David Frost’s production company and was to star in a number ITV shows including a short film during this period.

Spouse
Joy Tubb     (1959 – 3 October 2005) (his death) 3 children

Trivia

He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1978 Queen’s Honours List for his services to drama.

Father of the actress Charlotte Barker, the actor Adam Barker and Larry Barker.

Is well-known for his role in the radio comedy series, “The Navy Lark”, in which he played various characters.

Although a fine comic 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 as “The Two Ronnies”.

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.

Enjoyed working with Jon Pertwee on The Navy Lark and the two would often find themselves almost paralytic with laughter during rehearsals for the BBC radio comedy.

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”.

Was encouraged to go into show business by Frank Shelley.

Personal Quotes

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.

Where Are They Now

(1988) Retired from acting to run an antiques business.

(2004) Has 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 is 17 years since the duo last appeared together on TV screens.

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