When 'The Two Ronnies Sketchbook' was originally announced, you could almost hear the gasps of amazement from the media. In this age of 'Little Britain' and 'League Of Gentlemen', went the cry, why would anyone by interested in two old men doing corny jokes from behind desks? But the show astonished television executives by pulling in eight million viewers a week, a far better rating than those achieved by many modern shows.
The reason was simple - Corbett and Barker were back, and doing what they were best at - interacting with one another. The sketches were shown intact ( although 'The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town' had a couple of instalments removed ), and good many of them still were. Predictably, a couple of my favourites weren't included, such as 'The Bogle Of Bog Fell', 'The Sky At Night' and 'Star Trek', but that was to be expected. They saved the best until last - 'Four Candles' - and Ronnie Barker told us how unhappy he was with the pay-off, and went on to suggest an alternative. He was in poor health at the time of recording, but he and Corbett were still able to generate a good few laughs after all these years. Had he lived a bit longer, its more than likely we would have gotten another run of 'Sketchbook'.
On 25th December 2005, a Christmas edition was transmitted posthumously - Barker having died two months before - and it was heartbreaking to see him wish viewers a Merry Christmas, knowing he was not around to enjoy it himself.
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