Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Book 29 of 2014: And it's goodnight from him... by Ronnie Corbett

For Christmas last year I bought Mr Click the Complete Two Ronnies collection on DVD that we started watching a short time later. Although it was dated in some places, we both really enjoyed it. Then in May this year we went to pick up Yoda and Wicket, stopped in at a charity shop on the way through and I spotted Ronnie Corbett's And it's goodnight from him.... It was only £2 so I picked it up.

This is a biography of The Two Ronnies going right back to the beginning for both of them, then looking at how they met, their time together and the show that made them famous, following them right through to Ronnie Barker's death and what has happened since then. It's quite a unique look at the pair, coming from one half of them rather than an outsider, and includes lots of pictures as well as excerpts from scripts.

I think one of the best ways to describe this book is that it is quite simply really nice. It's one half of a pair of friends talking about his life with another close friend and colleague. I'm so used to modern biographies which seem to focus on scandals or disagreements and falling outs between people, this book doesn't have any of that. And you don't get the impression that it's because bad points might have been glossed over, instead it's just that Barker and Corbett weren't those sorts of people. In fact, at any point where there's any hint of a problem, Corbett is quick to say this was due to himself or a misunderstanding. It's just nice.

I also found this book very sensitive to the memory of Ronnie Barker. The final chapters deal with his declining health, his death and funeral. When books are published which deal with people who aren't able to defend themselves against what has been written, I always worry a little. There's nothing like that in here though, you get a sense of how much Corbett cared for Barker and simply wants readers to know the man that he knew.

Having recently finished watching all of the TV series it was nice to see the little extracts from the shows and sketches. I was especially pleased to see that some of the ones I classed as my favourites were also that favourites of both Corbett and Barker as well. The photos were a nice addition too because some of them came from their own private collections, as well as a copy of a note from Barker to Corbett, so are things that otherwise I probably never would have seen.

I'd definitely recommend any fans of Barker and Corbett to read this book. And modern celebrities could learn a little from reading this too; you don't need scandal to sell books and be a celebrity, having talent and being an all-round nice person can be enough too.

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