The late, great English actor, comedian, writer, critic, broadcaster and businessman Ronald William George “Ronnie” Barker, OBE was born 25 September 1929. He was known for his roles in various British comedy television series, such as The Frost Report, Porridge,The Two Ronnies and Open All Hours.He began his acting career in repertory theatre and decided he was best suited to performing comic roles. Barker gained his first acting successes at the Oxford Playhouse and later in various roles in the West End including Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. During this period, he became a cast member on BBC radio and television comedy programmes such as The Navy Lark.
Barker got his television break with the satirical sketch series The Frost Report in 1966 where he met future collaborator Ronnie Corbett. He joined David Frost’s production company and was to star in a number of ITV shows including a short film during this period.After rejoining the BBC Barker found fame with the sketch show The Two Ronnies (1971–1987) with Ronnie Corbett. After the series of pilots called Seven of One, he gained starring roles in the sitcoms Porridge, its sequel Going Straight and Open All Hours. Apart from being a performer, he was noted as a comedy writer both under his own name and the pseudonym Gerald Wiley, which Barker adopted to avoid pre-judgements of his talent. Barker won the BAFTA for Best Light Entertainment Performance four times, amongst other awards, and received an OBE in 1978.Later television sitcoms such as The Magnificent Evans and Clarence were less successful and he decided to retire in 1987. After his retirement, he opened an antiques shop with his wife, Joy. After 1999, he appeared in a number of smaller, non-comic roles in films. Barker died of heart failure on 3 October 2005, aged 76.