At UK Cabaret we take a fondly reflective look at the life and amazing career of the great Ronnie Corbett.
Ronnie Corbett was said to have been in poor health and suffering from persistent chest pains for at least two years, before his death on March 31. He was 85. He died at his Croydon home, with his family around him.
Ronald Balfour Corbett was born in Edinburgh in 1930. His father was a baker and his mother a telephonist. After leaving school he became a junior clerk at the Ministry of Agriculture office in Edinburgh, before doing national service with the RAF. He was the shortest commissioned officer in the entire British forces, measuring up at just 5ft 1and a half inches.
Moving to London, Ronnie became a barman and part-time comedy performer and actor. It was whilst performing in Danny la Rue’s London nightclub Winton’s, that Ronnie was spotted by David Frost, who asked him to start working in his satirical TV vehicle, The Frost Report. Another member of the cast was Ronnie Barker.
Ronnie was introduced to his wife of 51 years Anne at his club by La Rue. The couple soon produced a son Andrew, who died in infancy.
Famously, during a technical hitch on the televised BAFTA ceremony in 1971, the pair ad-libbed their way through a long ‘fill’, which according to BBC Producer James Gilbert, was funnier than anything else during the evening. The pair were soon performing their new double act on a new BBC TV series, The Two Ronnies. The show regularly topped 18 million viewers. Ronnie C also appeared in the sit-com Sorry, as mother’s boy Timothy Lumsden between 1981 and ’88.
After Barker’s death in 1985, Corbett appeared in the outrageous sketch show Little Britain and the Ricky Gervais sit-com Extra’s, as well as continuing to accept film roles.
Ronnie Corbett is survived by his wife Anne and their two daughters Emma and Sophie, His wife towered over him at 5 ft 8 inches tall, but Ronnie never seemed to believe his diminutive stature was in any way a hindrance, describing his lack of inches as ‘part of my armoury’.
Forever remember for his Four Candles sketch and the fact that, during more recent years he took huge chances with his career in order to remain relevant to younger comedy fans, Ronnie Corbett surely attained national treasure status. He loved his family and the game of golf.His membership of Addington Golf Club ensures that the memory of Ronnie’s love of the game remains, with the Ronnie Corbett Classic being held annually at the club.