76 (passed away Oct. 3rd, 2005)
Sep. 25th, 1929
Bedford, Bedfordshire, England, UK
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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" (1973)_). 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 in "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 in the popular BBC sitcoms _"Porridge" (1973)_ (as a cockney prisoner) and _"Open All Hours" (1973)_ (as a stammering Northern shopkeeper). In fact, only Leonard Rossiter could be said to have rivalled 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 (I) and Peter Hall (I) paid tribute to his contribution to comedy and British television in general. Ronnie Barker died on 3 October 2005 after suffering from heart problems.
- 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".
- 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."
- Enjoyed working with 'Jon Pertwee' (qv) 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", they would always close with 'Ronnie Corbett' (qv) saying "Well, it's Goodnight from me", to which Ronnie Barker would reply "And, it's Goodnight from 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.
- He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to drama.
- Father of the actress 'Charlotte Barker' (qv), the actor 'Adam Barker (II)' (qv) and Larry Barker.
- 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.
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