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 Ronnie Corbett: "Well it's hello from me..."

Ronnie Barker: "...and it's hello from him!"


Another famous British comic double act, but these two did other pretty famous stuff separately. Their show on the BBC (The Two Ronnies) ran from 1971 to 1987.

Consisted of:

  • Ronnie Barker. Also did Porridge (as the lead prisoner) and Open All Hours (as Arkwright, the stammering shop owner- the series also features a young David Jason)
  • Ronnie Corbett. A short guy (who would make jokes about it), who also appeared in Sorry! and has presented Have I Got News for You.

Most of the humour is based on wordplay, with sketches built around the Spoonerism, puns, homophones, mondegreens and similar. The show had many writers: in a fairly famous background story, one of the more celebrated writers was the mysterious Gerald Wiley, who was eventually revealed to the production team to be Ronnie Barker himself submitting material under an assumed name.

Once an Episode, Corbett would always give one of his famous "chair monologues", which consisted of him telling a long rambling story to the audience from an armchair, always taking jabs at the producer and/or his wife. Often these were based around a joke which, if told straight, would not be very funny - the hilarity came from the roundabout and tangential way he got to the punchline.

The most famous Two Ronnies sketches have to be:

Each series included a serial, in full costume and with drama-series quality props (not that that was very high quality on the BBC in those days). The most (in)famous was The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town, written by Spike Milligan ("and a Gentleman").

Barker died in 2005, and Corbett in 2016.

Their double act includes examples of:

  • Acceptable Targets (Besides Corbett himself for being short - the two later observed in a documentary that "You can't do 'stupid Irishman' jokes anymore, but you can if you just change them to being about 'yokels', because no-one's going to call in and say 'I'm a yokel and this offends me!' Hence the two yokel characters)
  • Bogus News (the start of each show)
  • Can't You Read the Sign?
  • Catch Phrase

 Corbett: So it's "Goodnight" from me.

Barker: And it's "Goodnight" from him.

Both: Goodnight.

  • Cluster F-Bomb (The "Swearbox" sketch)
  • Disorganised Outline Speech: Ronnie Corbett's chair monologues often take this form, basically turning every sentence of a short joke into a Disorganised Outline Speech that wanders off onto tangents before eventually coming back to the plot of the joke.
  • Dueling Shows (With Morecambe and Wise)
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: One recurring sketch was Barker's character trying to do this to Corbett's character (as he paused a lot trying to think of the right word) but getting it inappropriately wrong.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar (A LOT)
  • I Thought It Meant: The basis of the Four Candles sketch.
  • Lady Land: One of their drama segments is set in a dystopic fascist England ruled by female supremacists. They have to escape over the border to Wales, aided by--of course--Eek! a Mouse!.
  • Offer Void in Nebraska: One episode of the serial "Death Can Be Fatal" opened with a recap of the previous episode, then added "Except for viewers in Scotland, where the story goes like this:" and repeated the recap with everybody wearing traditional Highland dress.
    • This was a reference to BBC Scotland's annoying habit of pre-empting network programmes with (usually inferior) local content.
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: One of their best known sketches is a variation on this trope--Corbett and Barker play two very different characters both talking on pay phones in a supermarket. They are having totally unconnected conversations with different (unseen) people on the other end, but they take turns to speak and they seem to be having a surreal conversation with each other.
  • Self-Deprecation and Acceptable Targets (incessant gags about Corbett's height or lack thereof)
  • Swear Jar: The Swearbox Sketch.
  • Unbuilt Trope: They did a parody of Star Trek in 1973, only a few years after the original series ended, and a parody of Star Wars soon after the first film came out. Because of this, these parodies lack most of the 'cliché' jokes that have built up in stock parodies of these franchises over the years.
  • Unusual Euphemism - too many to list, calling body parts by physical characteristics were commonplace, ie wobblers, bouncers and danglers among others.
  • With Lyrics: They did this to the jazz number "In the Mood".

The serial The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town uses or parodies the following tropes:

  • A Bloody Mess: Raspberry juice, in the graveyard scene.
  • Adaptation Expansion: From a half-hour programme in the series "Six Dates with Barker". Here's a clip from the original.
  • Body Double: For Queen Victoria — six large, moustached policemen are put in dresses and told to pose as her.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: In the serial The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town, the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Commonwealth are meeting to discuss the threat of the Phantom. Who drops in uninvited, and blows a raspberry at them that's powerful enough to make the Queen's portrait blush and bring the chandelier down.
  • Driving a Desk: The backdrop while the policemen are in their carriage starts off as Stock Footage of a Victorian street, and then becomes Stock Footage of monkeys.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom
  • Gag Boobs: Miss Maureen Murray, the Prime Minister's 'assistant'.
  • My Card: The Phantom's cards have no writing, only a picture of a raspberry.
  • Napoleon Delusion
  • Once-Acceptable Targets: The second episode contains a scene involving blackface, and one where Benjamin Disraeli is played as a Jewish stereotype. These were edited out of the 2005 repeat.
  • Smith of the Yard: Ronnie Corbett as Inspector Corner of the Yard
  • The End - or Is It?: The closing narration: "The Phantom was dead... or was he?" Another raspberry indicates that no, he wasn't.
  • The Other Darrin: Sergeant Bowles is usually played by Ronnie Barker. Halfway through one scene, Spike Milligan takes over the role; halfway through the next scene, Ronnie Barker takes over again.
  • Verbal Tic: The Home Secretary, whose voice has a built-in echo.
  • Victorian London

The title of another serial was Getting Crap Past the Radar all by itself, i.e. "Hampton Wick". Think about it.