Guest Actor Biography
Page 7 of 127

   

Ronnie Barker

Cheshire, The Hidden Tiger

by Pete Stampede and David K. Smith

Born in Bedford in 1929, Barker attended school in Oxford. A student of architecture, he toyed with the idea of becoming a bank manager (ironic, as this is exactly the archetype he would so frequently parody). Instead, he joined the Aylesbury Repertory Company in 1948 and later took to the West End stage at the invitation of Sir Peter Hall, where in 1955 he appeared in Mourning Becomes Her.

For most of the 70s and 80s, Ronnie Barker was the king of mainstream TV comedy in Britain, more noted for his versatility than creating a single comic persona. The key to his success in fleshing out characters through wonderful little bits of business, like his hair-stroking in this episode, was that he was previously a straight actor for years in repertory theater, largely at the Oxford Playhouse. His TV break came when he was chosen for the supporting cast for David Frost's The Frost Report (1966-67), with John Cleese and diminutive Scotsman Ronnie Corbett. He teamed with Corbett for The Two Ronnies (1971-88), a highly popular if very old-fashioned sketch show which lasted until his unexpected retirement in 1988, although he has made a few appearances at reunions and the like. But his best series was Porridge (1975-78), as a wily convict called Fletch in this perfectly-characterised prison-set sitcom.

Ronnie passed away 3 October 2005 at the age of 76 after a long period of heart problems.

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Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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