Sketches include an unusual request for a funeral parlour, there is a public service announcement from the GPO, there is the next instalment in "The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London ... See full summary »


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Episode complete credited cast:
Himself / Various Characters
Himself / Various Characters
Barbara Dickson ...
Dowager Duchess of Arc
Claire Nielson ...
Mr Jones
John Rutland ...


Sketches include an unusual request for a funeral parlour, there is a public service announcement from the GPO, there is the next instalment in "The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town" from Chopper Films, a wife would like a bit more from her husband, there is a trying customer in a hardware store, Ronnie tells us an old joke about a lady driver, and the final concert is duet by the cleaners. The performance in this episode is by Barbara Dickson. Written by jem

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Release Date:

18 September 1976 (UK)  »

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Drift Away
Written by Mentor Williams, Jerry Williams
Performed by Barbara Dickson
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User Reviews

The search for the Phantom continues...
4 December 2009 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

This is it. Arguably the most famous 'Two Ronnies' edition of them all. Why? Because of a certain sketch which I'll come to later. It begins in usual fashion with the spoof news items, then a very good skit in which a gangster ( Corbett ) visits a funeral parlour in the mistaken belief the undertaker ( Barker ) kills people as well as buries them.

The third exciting instalment of the wonderfully silly 'Phantom Raspberry Blower' sees the hunt for said maniac intensify as The Duchess of Arg ( Joan Sims, in a rare and alas brief guest appearance ) falls into the sea as the result of hearing the Phantom go about his business. Both her kneecaps have had raspberries tattooed on them. Inspecting a dubious-looking line-up, she asks the men to blow raspberries. Their attempts are pitiful, all except for a Vicar whose dentures shoot out of his mouth. A suspect ( John Rutland ) picked out from a photograph of a very large crowd of people, enters Scotland Yard with an arrow stuck to his head. At Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria ( Corbett ) ( God Bless Her ) chats to her son, Edward V11 ( Barker ) when she suddenly changes personality: "Find a nice Jewish girl, bring her home to meet her Mother!". But when he blows his nose, the sound is uncannily like that made by the Phantom! To be continued...

Good old Babs Dickson sings 'Drift Away' in her usual inimitable fashion, and there's a quickie in which a housewife ( Clare Nielson ) tells her bored-looking husband ( Corbett ) that the Doctor has recommended she have sex every night of the week ( how I wish he were my wife's G.P.! ). Without looking up, he asks if she can put him down for two sessions.

Then we come to the reason why this show is so important - a sketch which has come to be known in certain circles as 'Four Candles'. The idea came to Barker courtesy of a viewer, who witnessed the initial misunderstanding over candles in a shop, and thought it so funny he/she sent it to him for use in the show. He added to it considerably, and the result is a classic. Corbett is brilliant as the frustrated shopkeeper, with Barker wonderfully deadpan as the dimwitted customer ( only he could make 'Mon Repose' funny ). The only flaw, as he later admitted, is the flat ending. Having John Owens put his hand in a drawer marked 'Bill Hooks' does not work at all, not even with a burst of 'Colonel Bogey' on the soundtrack to hammer home the point. However, in the final edition of 'The Two Ronnies Sketchbook', an alternative ending was proposed; Corbett vanishes, and a buxom woman asks Barker: "Alright, how many dumplings do you want?" ( it would have been a perfect role for Claire Davenport ). If only there had been some way to change the ending. Still, even with the 'Bill Hooks' damp squib, 'Four Candles' is a wonderful comedy sketch, easily the best the Ronnies ever did.

After Corbett's chair routine, the show ended with Barker and Corbett as Hylda Ogden-style charlady's singing ( "Camden Town, my Camden Town" ) in time with an orchestra ( I suspect that's Ronnie Hazlehurst as the conductor ), and banging pots and pans. It worked so well it was used as the finale of the first edition of 'Sketchbook' in 2005.

Funniest moment - it has to be 'Four Candles', specifically the look of bafflement on Corbett's face as Barker asks: "Got any 'P''s?" when he had just replaced a box of gate lettering back on the shelf. This is his worst nightmare come true. Fabulous.

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