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Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Thursday, 30 September 2010 11:57 UK
Ronnie Barker statue unveiled in Aylesbury

The statue was officially unveiled by Mr Barker's widow, Joy

A bronze statue of the late comedy legend Ronnie Barker has been unveiled in Aylesbury.

The Porridge and Two Ronnies star, who died five years ago, was born in Bedford and began his acting career in Aylesbury more than 60 years ago.

Aylesbury Vale District Council commissioned sculptor Martin Jennings to design the statue as part of its Waterside development project.

It now takes pride of place in the new public space in Exchange Street.

The statue was officially unveiled by Mr Barker's widow, Joy. See our picture gallery here .

She was joined at the ceremony by some of her husband's former colleagues including long-time comedy partner Ronnie Corbett and Open All Hours co-star Sir David Jason.

Ronnie Corbett with the statue of Ronnie Barker
The Two Ronnies teamed up in 1971

Sculptor Martin Jennings has depicted Mr Barker in his role as prison inmate Norman Stanley Fletcher, in the classic 1970s' series Porridge, sitting on a stone bench looking up at the new theatre.

The 5ft 6in (1.7m), 100kg statue was modelled by hand and then cast in bronze at the Pangolin Foundry in Gloucestershire.

Mr Jennings, whose work includes the statue of poet Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras station in London, said: "It's been delightful to make this statue of Ronnie Barker.

"He was a comic genius and he was a wonderful shape to sculpt.

"I've depicted him in his Porridge character glancing up approvingly at the new theatre as if looking back happily over a long career to the days when he began it all in Aylesbury."

'Fitting tribute'

Ronnie Barker was born in Bedford in 1929 and worked in a bank before joining the Aylesbury Repertory Company.

He made his professional debut on 15 November 1948, at the old County Theatre in Aylesbury's Market Square, with a small role playing Lt Spicer in JM Barrie's Quality Street.

By 1955 he was in demand in the West End and appeared in a number of productions including Mourning Becomes Electra, Lysistrata and Irma La Douce.

During the 1960s, he became well established as a radio performer, leaving his theatrical career behind.

He teamed up with Ronnie Corbett in 1971, and their sketch show, The Two Ronnies, ran for 12 series over 16 years.

His many accolades include four Baftas and he was appointed an OBE in 1978.

Councillor John Cartwright, Leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: "The sculptor Martin Jennings has created a wonderful work of art.

"The statue is a fitting tribute to a great man and one of Britain's best loved performers.

"I'm sure it will not only delight theatregoers, but will also be an attraction to Ronnie Barker fans throughout the country and perhaps even further afield."

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Obituary: Ronnie Barker
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Ronnie Barker's best lines
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In pictures: Ronnie Barker
04 Oct 05 |  In Pictures



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