Eric Barker

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Eric Barker
Actor Eric Barker.jpg
Born Eric Leslie Barker
(1912-02-12)12 February 1912
Thornton Heath, Surrey, England
Died 1 June 1990(1990-06-01) (aged 78)
Faversham, Kent, England
Occupation Comedy actor
Years active 1916–1978
Spouse(s) Pearl Hackney

Eric Leslie Barker (12 February 1912 – 1 June 1990) was an English comedy actor.[1] He is most remembered for his roles in the popular British Carry On films, although he only appeared in the early films in the series, apart from returning for Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978.[2]


Eric Barker was born in Thornton Heath, London, on 20 February 1912, the youngest of three children. He was brought up in Croydon, London, and educated at Whitgift School. He joined his father's paper merchants' company in the city but left to concentrate full-time on writing. His first novel The Watch Hunt was published when he was eighteen. He wrote short stories and plays appearing in the latter himself and gradually turned to writing and performing lyrics revues and sketches for stage and on radio.

He later became one of the most familiar faces in British comedy in his day. Eric Barker gained his renewed start in show business during World War II, when he was part of the armed forces radio show Merry Go Round, which he helped to write. After the war the show continued, though renamed The Waterlogged Spa, with Barker and his wife, actress Pearl Hackney. His "Steady Barker" catchphrase and verbal stumbling over words beginning with the letter 'h' became well known to audiences.[2] The show's success led to Barker's starring in other radio shows, where he achieved a sizeable following due to his versatility at doing voices.

In the 1950s he moved into television and films. On television he wrote and appeared in his own show, The Eric Barker Half-Hour, a black-and-white comedy sketch show on the BBC. The cast included his wife, Nicholas Parsons and Deryck Guyler. It ran for three series (21 episodes) between 1951 and 1953, and was broadcast fortnightly on Wednesdays around 9.00pm. Such was his success that it led to him writing his autobiography Steady Barker in 1956.

He had appeared as an adult in nine films, including Carry on London, a 45-minute crime short in 1937.[3] It is ironic therefore that in 1958 he received a BAFTA as "Most Promising Newcomer" for his role as a barrister's clerk in the film Brothers in Law (1957).[4] The award led to more film work over the next 20 years, including three St Trinians films, and four in the classic Carry On British comedy film series. He found his niche in playing variations on the busybody sticking his nose in everyone's business, or as some authority figure, Carry On Constable (1960) being a good example. Along with Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor he is the only actor in the Carry On films to appear in the first, Carry On Sergeant in 1958 and the last of the original series of Carry On films Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978.

He was also a writer and published a number of novels: Sea Breezes in the early '30s under the pen name of Christopher Bentley and Day Gone By under his own name in 1933 as well as Golden Gimmick in 1958 published by Hodder and Stoughton. P. G. Wodehouse wrote that he had "a real talent for humorous writing".[5]

Personal life[edit]

He married the actress Pearl Hackney[6] (b. 28 October 1916, d. 18 September 2009) with whom he often worked, though she also had a comedy career of her own. They had a daughter, Petronella Barker, in 1942, who also appeared in films and television between 1964 and 1983. Petronella married Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins in September 1967. They divorced in 1972 and had a daughter in 1967, Abigail Hopkins, who is a singer and actress. He died in Canterbury, Kent and is buried in the churchyard of St. Mary's, Stalisfield Green near Faversham where he had lived for a number of years.

In 1971 Barker was the subject of the British ITV television show This Is Your Life.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Eric Barker". BFI. 
  2. ^ a b Hal Erickson. "Eric Barker - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie. 
  3. ^ This film is not connected to the later Carry On British comedy film series.
  4. ^ "BAFTA Awards Database". BAFTA. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  5. ^ p. 775. A Century of Humour, edited by P. G. Wodehouse, published c.1935 by Hutchinson and Co. (Publishers) Ltd.
  6. ^ "Pearl Hackney". 8 October 2009. 

External links[edit]