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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
'Ronnie brought joy to millions'
Richard Briers
Briers recalled Barker's 'triumphant career'

Veteran actor Richard Briers talks to the BBC News website about his friend, the comedian Ronnie Barker, who has died aged 76.

What a marvellous friend Ronnie was.

Everyone liked Ronnie - there was nothing about him to dislike - he was a generous man, a very nice man and a great family man too.

We worked together on Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound at the Criterion Theatre 1968, but I knew him before then as my wife, Ann, had worked with him at the Royal Court theatre.

We became good friends.

In later years, we probably saw each other about once every 12 months or so. He threw the most fantastic garden parties every summer.

Ronnie was so talented. He was a terrific comic and had a wonderful way with words. He brought so much joy to millions.

He was very proud of the industry and very proud of being a top-notch professional. He liked punctuality and did not like amateurs.

[Ronnie] was very touched by the Bafta tribute last year

Ronnie took his comedy very seriously, and he also proved in Porridge that he was a brilliant actor. To me, it was the best thing he ever did.

The wonderful thing about actors is that they just go on.

Ronnie's work will go on, especially Porridge which I don't think will be topped for many, many years to come.

He was very touched by the Bafta tribute last year but he was not a man who was comfortable with receiving awards or public speaking. It was an effort for him. He was very sensitive.

He and Ronnie Corbett were a wonderful comedy team.

What used to make me laugh most was when they dressed up as the cleaning ladies. Wonderful.

I have never worked with Ronnie Corbett, but I knew him and we would meet from time to time and have a laugh.

The Two Ronnies
The Two Ronnies started in 1971

I'm sure he must be feeling absolutely terrible today.

He just adored Ronnie and I know it was reciprocated. Their relationship was a very affectionate one. He was very saddened by Ronnie's illness.

I didn't like the way Ronnie looked back in January when they did The Two Ronnies Sketchbook.

He was starting to lose weight and it is very hard when you see someone starting to change physically.

I last spoke to him about 10 days ago and he did not sound at all good and he was very down.

The mild heart condition had obviously turned into a very bad heart condition and he said he was sleeping up to 18 hours a day. His quality of life was not good and I was very concerned.

It is some consolation that he retired some time ago, so he and his wonderful wife Joy, who was very supportive of him throughout his career, could have a lovely retirement.

They had a lovely house and garden, so it was wonderful that they had that together before the end.

Ronnie was coming to the end of what was a triumphant career. One must always remember what a success he had been.


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