Ronnie Barker: From Bank Clerk to Comedy Legend

Ronnie Barker: From Bank Clerk to Comedy Legend

Ronnie was renowned for his legendary one line jokes and use of the English Language...

Nick Thorne, Writer at TheGenealogist

Nick Thorne

Writer at TheGenealogist

Here we take a look at comedy legend, Ronnie Barker. Born on 25th September 1929, Ronnie was an English actor and comedian best known for his roles as Norman Stanley Fletcher in the British comedy, ‘Porridge’, various characters in the British comedy television series, ‘The Two Ronnies’, and as Albert Arkwright in the British comedy television series ‘Open All Hours’.

Ronnie was renowned for his legendary one line jokes and use of the English Language: “On a packed show tonight, we’ll be talking to an out-of-work contortionist who can no longer make ends meet.”

We can learn more about the life of Ronnie Barker, a British Comedy Genius, using the ‘SmartSearch’ features at

We know Ronnie died in 2005 in Oxfordshire. Using TheGenealogist, we can type in the basic details. This gives us his death record.

Using the unique ‘SmartSearch’ tool, you can instantly click through to Ronnie’s birth record.

Born in Bedford in 1929, as a child Barker enjoyed dressing up, a prelude to his future career. He developed a love of the theatre, often attending plays with his family.

From his birth record, you can find out information about Ronnie’s parents and any siblings he may have had using the SmartSearch tool. With one click, you are presented with a list of his siblings. He was the middle of three children Ronnie had an older sister called Vera, and a younger sister called Eileen.

The next step is to find out about his parents. Again, you can use the SmartSearch feature to find out this information.

With one more click you can view the marriage details of his parents Leonard and Edith, known as ‘Tim’ and ‘Cis’, in the district of Bedford.

Ronnie went to school in Oxford, after the family relocated due to his father’s work commitments. Ronnie then became an architecture student and even toyed with the idea of becoming a bank manager after working briefly at the Westminster Bank, the archetypal middle-class profession he would later parody so effectively.

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One of the sketches that established his TV career was with John Cleese and Ronnie Corbett on the ‘Frost Report’ about how the Class system works. You can watch the class sketch on BBC IPlayer

Click the image to watch the class sketch on BBC IPlayer
Click the image to watch the class sketch on BBC IPlayer

Looking at the life of one of Britain’s best loved comedy actors shows how easy and straightforward it is to go from one record to another using TheGenealogist’s SmartSearch. If all you know is the approximate details of when a person died, it is now possible to find the death record and work from there in simple, straightforward steps and end up from a death in 2005 to a marriage certificate in 1926, with just a couple of clicks. As Ronnie once said, it’s much easier than trying to order fork handles…

Click here to watch the fork handle sketch on YouTube

Ronnie Barker won a number of awards. In the late 1970s he won the British Academy Award for best light entertainment performer three times, and in 1975 he took the Royal Television Society’s award for outstanding creative achievement. In 2004 Barker was honoured with a BAFTA tribute award and celebration evening for his contribution to comedy.

The last word is left to Ronnie: The man who invented the zip fastener was today honoured with a lifetime peerage. He will now be known as the Lord of the Flies .

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