Perhaps one of television’s most loved Saturday night shows, The Two Ronnies ran for a staggering 98 episodes over 12 series.
First appearing in that now famous sketch about class with John Cleese on The Frost Report (see our Frost Report Post), messr’s Barker and Corbett got their big break when they filled-in for a few minutes during a technical hitch during an awards ceremony in 1970. In the audience was none other than Bill Cotton, then Head of Light Entertainment for the BBC, and Sir Paul Fox the then Controller of BBC One. Cotton, impressed by the duo asked Fox “How would you like those two on your network?”. As a result, Barker and Corbett were given their own show by the BBC. The programme quickly became one of the most successful and long running television comedy shows ever on British television, broadcast at the prime-time slot of 8pm on a Saturday night and averaging around 21 million viewers a show at its peak.
The show would typically start with Barker and Corbett sat behind a desk from where they would advise the audience of what was on the show (it was never correct) before announcing “but first some news” they would then recite short humorous stories in the form of news items.
There would then be a number of sketches followed by a short serial that would run through the current series. This would usually cut back to Ronnie Corbett sat in casual clothes in a comfortable chair, in this spot he would tell a joke or recite a humorous story. There would be a special guest singer, some more sketches and finally some more news.
Written By: There were a number of writers including:
Ray Alan, John Cleese, Barry Cryer, Spike Milligan, David Nobbs, David Renwick, John Sullivan, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Ravenscroft, Gerald Wiley (Ronnie Barker)
Original Run: 10th April 1971 – 25th December 1987
The Two Ronnies Sketchbook (2005)