The Two Ronnies Sketchbook
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|The Two Ronnies Sketchbook|
|Written by||Bryan Blackburn
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||7 (inc. Christmas Special)|
|Running time||60 mins / 30 mins (edit repeats only)|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||18 March– 25 December 2005|
|Preceded by||The Two Ronnies|
The Two Ronnies Sketchbook is a collection of classic sketches from the BBC comedy series The Two Ronnies, with newly filmed introductions by the stars, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. It was first broadcast 34 years after the first episode of The Two Ronnies was aired and 18 years after the final episode aired.
The show came about following the BBC's broadcast of Ronnie Barker: A Bafta Tribute in February 2004, a show which gained a large audience (7.2 million), proving there was still great interest in Barker's comedy work. The BAFTA lifetime achievement award was presented to Barker by Ronnie Corbett, and the two proved they still had great chemistry.
Six hour-long episodes of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook aired on BBC One in March and April 2005. It saw the Two Ronnies back behind their famous news desk, introducing some of their favourite sketches and re-reading some of the classic news items that began and ended every episode of The Two Ronnies. Much was made of the fact that the sketches chosen were shown in their entirety. Each week an episode of the classic Spike Milligan-scripted serial The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town was shown, and each episode featured a new performance by a popular singer.
The sketches chosen were considered true classics - the short-sighted optician, 'Nuts m'lord', the Mastermind spoof (Specialist subject: Answering the Question Before Last), and, the sketch voted the nation's favourite, Four Candles (The Two Ronnies left this last sketch until the very end of the sixth episode, pretending they had forgotten about it). The newly recorded introductions provided an opportunity for plenty of good-humoured banter between the pair. The show was met with approval from audiences - 7.9 million tuning in for the opening episode, with many of them too young to have seen The Two Ronnies when it was first broadcast. Ronnie Corbett later said that Ronnie Barker was "delighted that the Two Ronnies Sketchbook had gone so well, bringing us to a new generation of audiences".
This proved to be Barker's final television work. He appeared frail and had lost a lot of weight, and it later became clear that he had been very unwell with a heart condition whilst filming the show. However, he was determined to record one final Christmas special of The Two Ronnies, and so, on 5 July 2005, The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook was recorded. It was broadcast on Christmas Day of the same year, two months after Barker's death (Ronnie Corbett paid tribute to him in a specially recorded introduction to the show), and saw the pair introduce their favourite sketches from their Christmas shows. Again, the show was a rousing success, and - with 7.93 million viewers - was the fourth most watched programme on Christmas Day.
The full series of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook was repeated on GOLD daily in Autumn 2007 but was edited to a 30-minute time slot, therefore the show was broadcast in 12 episodes consecutively instead of six sixty-minute shows. Since then the full series was not repeated but The Two Ronnies Christmas Sketchbook has since been repeated over the festive period on both GOLD and BBC One. In December 2011 BBC One repeated some episodes of the series again but only in the 30 minute format. On 23 December 2011 BBC One repeated a full sixty minute episode of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook for the first time since 2005. On 2, 3 and 4 January 2013 BBC One again repeated three thirty minutes edited episodes of the show. Repeats of the show have since began broadcasting on GOLD from 1 November 2013. Repeat broadcastings of the 30 minute edits aired again in December 2014 on BBC One on Friday nights in the 7:30pm slot. GOLD regularly repeat the series and have recently been showing episodes cut down to 45 minutes, to allow adverts. Episode 3 was repeated on BBC One in thirty minute form on 1 April 2016, after the death of Ronnie Corbett.