Ronnie Barker

Last updated on the 13 July 2024 by Maeve

Ronnie Barker headshot

Mini Biography

Born:  25 September 1929, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England. 

After abandoning his architectural studies, Ronnie Barker found himself working as a bank clerk. Yet, a passion for acting simmered beneath the surface. He began participating in amateur dramatics in Oxford, developing his comedic timing and discovering a talent for accents and voices.

Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett
The “Two Ronnies” – Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett

This newfound passion propelled him towards professional acting. He joined the Manchester Repertory Company, where he embraced his comedic strengths. Repertory theatre provided a valuable training ground, allowing him to tackle a wide range of roles and solidify his stage presence. His success led him to the Oxford Playhouse, where he enjoyed critical acclaim.

Ronnie Barker’s television debut came in the mid-1950s, but it was his involvement in “The Frost Report” in 1966 that marked a turning point. This satirical sketch show, alongside future comedy partner Ronnie Corbett, showcased Barker’s sharp wit and gift for physical humour. Their contrasting styles – Barker, the tall and flamboyant one, opposite Corbett’s diminutive stature – proved to be a comedic goldmine.

Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale in Porridge
Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale in Porridge

Building on this success, the duo embarked on their most iconic collaboration – “The Two Ronnies.” From 1971 to 1987, the show became a staple in British households. Their hilarious sketches, witty wordplay and slapstick routines cemented their place in comedy history.

Beyond “The Two Ronnies,” Barker carved his niche in sitcoms. He brought warmth and humour to the role of Fletcher “Fletch” Duckworth in “Porridge,” a lovable rogue serving time in prison. Later he starred in the iconic “Open All Hours” alongside David Jason.

Open All Hours - Ronnie Barker, David Jason and Lynda Baron
Open All Hours – Ronnie Barker, David Jason and Lynda Baron

He married stage manager Joy Tubb in 1957 and they remained together until his passing in 2005. They had three children, and Barker was known to be a devoted family man. Despite his aversion to celebrity culture, he was deeply respected by his colleagues and adored by fans.

Ronnie Barker’s legacy extends far beyond laughter. He was a master of his craft, a comedic genius who could seamlessly blend physical humour with witty wordplay. His characters resonated with audiences across generations, leaving an indelible mark on British television history.


Suggested viewing


Open All Hours (1976)

Open All Hours poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.6

A penny-pinching grocer runs a corner shop in a small town. He constantly clashes with his overworked nephew, who dreams of a life beyond deliveries and dodging his uncle’s schemes to save a penny. The grocer pines for the local nurse, but his tightfisted ways and eccentric methods keep him stuck in a hilarious dance of will-they-or-won’t-they, all while the townsfolk provide a steady stream of quirky characters and local gossip.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, David Jason, Lynda Baron, Barbara Flynn, Stephanie Cole, Maggie Ollerenshaw, Kathy Staff, Johnny Ball.


Still Open All Hours poster


The Two Ronnies (1971)

The Two Ronnies dvd

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.8

The Two Ronnies was a long-running sketch comedy show that tickled audiences with witty wordplay, silly situations and recurring characters. Each episode offered a delightful mix of fast-paced skits featuring a tall and a short Ronnie, absurd monologues and musical performances. The show also included spoof serials, with the two leads transforming into everything from detectives to historical figures, all delivered with a healthy dose of British charm.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, John Owens.


Porridge (1973)

Porridge poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.3

A seasoned con artist with a twinkle in his eye finds himself sharing a cell with a wide-eyed newbie in a British prison. The old-timer teaches the ropes of surviving prison life, all while charming the guards and hatching cunning plans to make his time a little less grueling, with plenty of laughs along the way.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Brian Wilde, Fulton Mackay, Richard Beckinsale, Sam Kelly, Michael Barrington, Tony Osoba, Christopher Biggins, David Jason, Brian Glover, Peter Vaughan,Patricia Brake.


Going Straight (1978)

Going Straight poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.0

After years behind bars, a reformed conman is paroled and vows to go straight. But life on the outside proves trickier than expected. He struggles to adjust to a changed world, hold down a regular job and resist the allure of his old criminal ways. With a family both supportive and bewildered, his path to honest living is paved with hilarious mishaps and temptations, all while facing the ever-present suspicion that his reformed ways might just be a clever con. This is a sequel to “Porridge”.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Patricia Brake, Richard Beckinsale, Nicholas Lyndhurst, David Swift, Rowena Cooper, Fulton Mackay.


The Frost Report (1966)

The Frost Report poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.8

The Frost Report was a satirical show that ran in the mid-60s, skewering everything from social class to politics with sketches and musical numbers. Debuting a group of soon-to-be comedy legends, the show used clever wit and absurdity to expose the quirks and hypocrisies of British society. Though hosted by David Frost, the real stars were the writers and performers who would go on to form Monty Python and The Two Ronnies.

Top cast: David Frost, Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, John Cleese, Sheila Steafel, Julie Felix, Nicholas Smith, Tom Lehrer, Nicky Henson.


Doing Time (1979)

Doing Time poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.2

In prison, a cunning inmate hatches an escape plan during a celebrity football game. Two clueless cellmates accidentally become entangled and end up outside the prison walls. Now facing even harsher punishment if caught, they must devise a scheme to break back in before the guards notice they’re missing. This is a film spin-off from tv series “Porridge”.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Fulton Mackay, Brian Wilde, Peter Vaughan, Julian Holloway, Geoffrey Bayldon, Christopher Godwin, Barrie Rutter, Daniel Peacock, Sam Kelly, Ken Jones, Philip Locke, Gorden Kaye.


Clarence (1988)

Clarence poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.4

A nearsighted furniture mover falls for a witty maid during a chaotic move on the royal coronation day. They embark on an unconventional trial marriage in a tiny cottage, navigating their quirky personalities and his bumbling mishaps caused by his poor eyesight.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Josephine Tewson, Phyllida Law, Richard Caldicot.


By the Sea (1982)

The Picnic and By the Sea poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.4

A boisterous family vacation unfolds in a classic English seaside town. A blustery general leads the charge, with his ever-patient younger companion in tow. Hijinks ensue as they navigate the crowded beach, encounter colourful characters and grapple with classic seaside mishaps. From runaway donkeys to sandcastle battles, their chaotic yet endearing adventures capture the spirit of a traditional British holiday.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Barbara New, Madge Hindle, Debbi Blythe, Rikki Howard, Gerrie Raymond, John Brewer.


The Picnic (1976)

The Picnic and By the Sea poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.0

A grumpy elder leads his delightfully odd family on a countryside picnic. The silence is broken only by the sounds of their mishaps: a runaway sandwich, a tangled fishing line, and inevitable bickering. Despite the chaos, their quirky bond shines through in this silent comedy.

Top cast: Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Julie Crosthwaite, Barbara New, Madge Hindle, Dennis Ramsden, Patricia Brake.


Ronnie Barker full filmography @ Wikipedia
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13 days ago


Last edited 13 days ago by Maeve
13 days ago