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Tuesday, August 25, 1998 Published at 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK


Barker's back to give his daughter a break

Ronnie Barker (right) with former partner Ronnie Corbett

Veteran comedy star Ronnie Barker is coming out of retirement as a writer with his debut play - as a one-off to help his struggling actress daughter.

Mr Barker, 69, who has run an antique shop since his retirement in 1988, said his first play Mum - written as a showcase for daughter Charlotte - will also be his last.

Formerly half of The Two Ronnies and star of Porridge and Open All Hours, Mr Barker is adamant that the play is a one-off and swears he will never return to the screen or stage himself.

Mum will be staged at the King's Head pub theatre in Islington, north London next month.

Father and daughter hope it will be successful enough to transfer to a bigger theatre.

Mr Barker said: "It is funny and sad and, I hope, moving. It is a showpiece for Charlotte."

His son Adam is also an actor and has recently appeared in the television detective series Wycliffe, but Charlotte has found roles harder to come by.

Mr Barker said: "I think she is an excellent actress. She makes me cry and makes me laugh as well.

"But it is very difficult to get work, for actresses especially. There isn't the work about.

"This way she will be seen by many people and it may lead to other things."

Charlotte plays the daughter of "Mum", who mysteriously doesn't appear.

"It is a comedy about loneliness, if that makes sense," Mr Barker said.

He wrote many of the finest sketches for The Two Ronnies under his pseudonym Gerald Wiley, characteristically including elaborate word play.

But he has never before written a full-scale play and has no plans to write another.

Last year a BBC tribute to Ronnie Barker was watched by record audiences of 9 million viewers.

There were reports that BBC bosses had tried everything to lure Mr Barker back to the small screen.

But the actor rejected reports he might record a number of specials, and said he is happy running his Oxfordshire antique shop and wants to stay out of the limelight.

"My business was acting, which I am certainly not doing any more of. I am not going to appear anywhere. I really decided that years ago," he said.

He and his former partner Ronnie Corbett drew a huge round of applause when they reunited to go out on stage at the Royal Variety Performance last year.

It was also reported this week the pair will contribute to a pizza commercial, but Mr Barker does not consider this an end to his retirement.

"There is a possibility that I will do something with Ronnie C, just a voice over, but that is an old pals' act.

"It is just dipping one's toe in, as opposed to swimming the Channel.

"When I retired in 1988 I just felt I had done everything I wanted to do. I had no more ambitions."

Mum launches on October 5.

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