Ronnie Corbett

Ronnie Corbett

Infobox actor
name = Ronnie Corbett

caption = Ronie Corbett in the very famous Fork Handles Sketch in 1976
birthname = Ronald Balfour Corbett
birthdate = birth date and age|1930|12|4|df=yes
birthplace = Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
deathdate =
deathplace =
restingplace =
restingplacecoordinates =
occupation = Presenter, Actor, Writer, Comedian
yearsactive = 1952 -
spouse = Anne Hart (1965 - )
baftaawards = Best Light Entertainment Performance
1972 "The Two Ronnies" (1971)
awards = Lifetime Achievement Award

Ronald Balfour "Ronnie" Corbett, OBE (born 4 December 1930) is a British actor and comedian, born in Scotland, best known for his association with Ronnie Barker in the popular British television comedy sketch series "The Two Ronnies". He also played Timothy Lumsden in the sitcom "Sorry!" and Ronnie in "No, That's Me Over Here!".

Early life and career

Corbett was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of London-born Annie Elizabeth (Main) and William Balfour Corbett, a World War I veteran and master baker, [cite web |url = |title = Family detective |publisher = The Daily Telegraph |date = 2006-06-23 |first = Nick |last =Barratt| accessdaymonth = 12 January |accessyear = 2008] . He has a brother about six years younger, and a sister about ten years younger than himself.cite episode |title=Desert Island Discs with Ronnie Corbett |url=
series=Desert Island Discs | serieslink=Desert Island Discs |network=BBC |station=Radio 4 |airdate=2007-10-21
] Corbett decided he wanted to be an actor while performing in amateur theatricals at a church youth club. However, his first job was with the Ministry of Agriculture. He then did his National Service with the RAF during which he was the shortest commissioned officer in the British Forces. After National Service he moved to London to pursue his acting ambition. Starting in 1952 his first foray into professional showbiz was playing schoolboy roles in films. At 5 ft 1 1/2 in (1.53 m) tall, Corbett was ideally suited to playing younger than his years. References to his height - or lack thereof - frequently crop up in his self-deprecating humour.

He has worked in film, television and on stage since the 1950s. In his first stage co-starring appearance he was billed as Ronald Corbett, appearing at Cromer, North Norfolk in the show "Take it easy" in 1956 co-starring with Graham Stark. He appeared in "Crackerjack" as a regular in its early days. He had a walk-on role in an early episode of the 1960s series "The Saint" (credited as 'Ronald Corbett') and made appearances in several films, including "Rockets Galore" (1957), "Casino Royale" (1967), "Some Will, Some Won't" (1970) and the film version of the farce "No Sex Please, We're British" (1973).

In the 1960s he was appearing in cabaret at "Winston's", Danny La Rue's Mayfair nightclub. This was very much the 'in' place and was patronised by the show business glitterati. It was here that Corbett was first seen by David Frost who asked him to appear in "The Frost Report". Corbett's appearance was made possible by a career low point. In 1965 he was in the West End playing Will Scarlett in Lionel Bart's Robin Hood musical "Twang!", which was expected to be a big hit, but it was a dismal failure, and its closure meant that Corbett was free to do "The Frost Report".

Corbett married the actress and dancer Anne Hart in 1965, and they have two daughters, the actresses Emma Corbett and Sophie Corbett. His first child, a son, Andrew had a heart problem and died, only weeks old at St Thomas' Hospital.

Rise to fame

It was in "The Frost Report" (1966-1967) that Corbett first worked with Ronnie Barker. The writers and cast were mostly Oxbridge graduates who had come out of the Footlights tradition. Corbett has said that he and Barker were naturally drawn together as two Grammar school boys who had not gone to university in among a crowd of privately-educated graduates. The show was a mixture of satirical monologues, sketches and music and each show had a theme. It seems that even at this time - considerably before the idea of their own show was mooted - Corbett and Barker were beginning to be thought of as a pair.

Corbett and Barker appeared with John Cleese in one of the most famous and regularly repeated comedy sketches in British television history. Cleese, Barker and Corbett are standing in line abreast facing the camera with Cleese (tall, leftmost) representing the Upper Class, Barker (average height, in the middle) representing the Middle Class and Corbett (short, rightmost) representing the working class. Each of them relates what they think of the other classes and what they get out of the class system while turning their head to look at the object of their remark, looking up at their so-called superiors and down at their inferiors. Corbett gets the pay-off line: "I get a pain in the back of my neck."

Continuing under the auspices of Frost, Corbett next starred in "No - that's me over here", a sitcom written by fellow "Frost Report" refugees Barry Cryer, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle (ITV 1967-1970). Cryer and Chapman then wrote two follow-up series: "Now Look Here" (BBC 1971-1973) and "The Prince of Denmark" (BBC 1974). Corbett also appeared in "Frost on Sunday" (ITV 1968) and hosted "The Corbett Follies" (ITV 1969).

"The Two Ronnies"

His BBC television comedy sketch show with Ronnie Barker, "The Two Ronnies", lasted from 1971 to 1987. This show saw both Barker and Corbett performing various comedy sketches and musical numbers. Additionally, in the middle of the show, Corbett would present a lengthy monologue. Sitting in a large leather chair (emphasising his small size), and usually wearing a Lyle & Scott golfing V-neck sweater, he would tell a simple joke over the space of several minutes, often deliberately allowing himself to lose his train of thought. Although seemingly improvised, these were tightly scripted affairs.

Corbett is perhaps best known as the comedian's straight-man and achieved a unique cult status in this way – a relatively small individual who loves to play golf, he often became the butt of other comedians' jokes, even when he was not present and even if there was no obvious connection between him and the comedian in question. However, his own skills as an outright comedian were never doubted and his peers thought extremely highly of him.

Ronnie Barker, with health problems, informed Corbett late in 1986 that he wanted to retire after the Christmas show following the next Christmas show.

Recent life

His best known role away from "The Two Ronnies" is as Timothy Lumsden in the sitcom "Sorry".

In 1997, Corbett played the role of Reggie Sea Lions in the film "Fierce Creatures", which also starred his former comedy teammate John Cleese.

He also hosted the game show "Small Talk" and has continued to play minor parts occasionally since the end of this – notably playing Griselda in a television production of "Cinderella" in 2000, and reviving his armchair monologue routines for a weekly guest appearance in a stand-up show hosted by Ben Elton, a lifelong fan.

In 2003 he appeared in a series of advertisements for the Sky+ digital television service alongside Alice Cooper. The premise was a running gag about them being blissfully happy housemates.

In December 2004, Corbett made an appearance as guest host on the popular BBC news quiz, "Have I Got News For You".

In 2005 Corbett teamed up again with Ronnie Barker for a series of shows called "The Two Ronnies Sketchbook", comprising selections of classic comedy sketches from their original series with original linking material. Also in 2005 Corbett appeared with comedian Peter Kay, another huge fan, in the spoof music video for the number 1 single "Is This the Way to Amarillo?", mimed to the song by Tony Christie. Corbett is well remembered for falling over in the video.

He recently performed in "Children's Party at the Palace" as Mr. Tibbs, the Queen's butler.

In 2006, he played a hyper-realised version of himself in "Extras", caught taking drugs at the BAFTA Awards. He also starred as himself in "Little Britain Abroad", in which Bubbles DeVere tries (successfully) to seduce him.

He currently lives in Shirley, Croydon, London, where he has resided for many years. He also maintains a home in Gullane, East Lothian, in his native Scotland. He is a keen bee-keeper.

He opened the Henry Blogg "the greatest lifeboatman of all time" centre in Cromer, North Norfolk. He has an affinity with Cromer and has returned previously in the 1970's to open the high school swimming pool.

He is a keen golfer and regularly appears in celebrity and pro-am golfing events.

Corbett was the "castaway" in the BBC Radio 4 show, "Desert Island Discs", which was broadcast on 21 October 2007.

Ronnie appeared on BBC1 Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army on Sunday August 3rd 2008. He was interviewed by Melvyn Bragg on The South Bank Show of ITV shown on Sunday October 5 2008. This programme began with showings from The Two Ronnies, including the famous sketches where Corbett sat on his chair and told jokes.

Television Roles


External links

*imdb name|0179196|Ronnie Corbett

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