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…and it’s Good Night From Him

Welcome back to My 70’s TV Childhood! We are a podcast dedicated to reminiscing about growing up in 1970s Britain and the special place television held in our lives. If you played with Sindy or Action Man, watched the Bay City Rollers in Shang a Lang, and wouldn’t miss Scooby Doo for anything, you’re in the right place for a dose of nostalgia.

Thanks, as always, to everyone who has been in touch. After our recent episode marking the 50th anniversary of The Sweeney, many of you shared your fond memories of the show. Keith, in particular, sent me a link to The Sweeney Letraset transfer set I mentioned. Recognizing it immediately brought back memories of villains with sawn-off shotguns, Regan and Carter firing pistols, and even a truncheon-wielding policeman. How anyone thought this was suitable for children is beyond me—different times, I suppose.

If you’d like to share your memories, you can email me at oliver@my70stvchildhood.com or leave a comment on our blog at www.my70stvchildhood.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter/X, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

As I record this episode, the UK is in the midst of a general election campaign. The campaigns so far have been slightly depressing.  Our current politicians seem to lack the common touch and a sense of humour, unlike in the 1970s when political commentary was lightened by comedians like Mike Yarwood with his impressions of Harold Wilson and Ted Heath.

This led me to think about the clever comedy of the seventies and watching television with my family. Watching TV together doesn’t happen the same way today with our busier lives and on-demand streaming services. Back then, Saturday nights were special. We devoted a whole episode to this back in October 2020. Our routine included The Pink Panther, Basil Brush, US shows like Alias Smith and Jones or Kung Fu, and Doctor Who. After supper, it was Starsky and Hutch, Kojak, or Cannon, and if I was lucky, Match of the Day.

One show I loved during the eight o’clock slot was The Two Ronnies. It was a mix of clever comedy, comic monologues, and big musical numbers presented by Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.

The Two Ronnies always promised an hour of entertainment. The format was consistent: opening with the two men behind a desk like newsreaders.

Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett met in 1963 at the Buckstone Club in London. They performed together in shows like The Frost Report and got their big break in 1970 during a BAFTA awards technical problem. Impressed by their impromptu performance, the BBC gave them their show, which ran from April 1971 until Christmas 1987. Barker also starred in Porridge, its sequel Going Straight, and Open All Hours, while writing under the pseudonym Gerald Wiley.

The Two Ronnies was funny and cleverly written. Each episode had staple parts, including standalone sketches.

There were also cocktail party sketches and sketches featuring home counties commuters or ordinary working men.

The famous “Four Candles” sketch is unforgettable! The show also had musical numbers, often featuring Elaine Paige or Barbara Dixon, and acapella group Swingle Two. Then there was Ronnie Corbett’s monologue.

As a child, I found the monologues dull, but as an adult, I appreciate their cleverness. The serials, like The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town, written by Spike Milligan and Ronnie Barker, were particularly memorable……I even had a bad experience at the dentist, dreaming of the Phantom Raspberry Blower under gas anaesthetic—how times have changed.

The musical finales featured Barker and Corbett in various roles, like Morris dancers or US country singers.

The Two Ronnies packed a lot into an hour, requiring meticulous planning. It was a staple of British Saturday night TV, and for me, it was a cherished time with my family before Starsky and Hutch

What are your memories of The Two Ronnies? Share them by leaving a comment on our blog at www.my70stvchildhood.com, on social media, or by emailing oliver@my70stvchildhood.com. Join us next week for the latest edition of our 70’s TV trivia quiz and in a fortnight for the next edition of our podcast. Until then, take care and see you soon for more from My 70’s TV Childhood.

Oliver

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