I’ve recently read Ronnie Corbett’s ‘Autobiography of the Two Ronnies’, published in 2006. I recommend it – an affectionate but substantial look at the pair’s pre-show history, how the show worked, and their post-show activities related to the (by then) family entertainment institution they had created.
One aspect puzzled me, though, and it’s something I’ve heard Ronnie C state in TV documentaries and the like. The two Rons were annoyed about the early 80s ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ sketch ‘The Two Ninnies’ for a couple of reasons, that it was BBC comedians criticising other BBC comedians (with seemed not the done thing in those days) but mainly because – as the Rons interpreted it – they were being criticised for “using bad language”.
Ronnie C defends this at length in his book by saying the Two Ronnies only used the word ‘bloody’ three times in however many series, etc. But it seems to me that the pair were – weirdly, as it seems so obvious – missing the whole point of the ‘The Two Ninnies’ sketch: which was effectively putting IN the ‘bad language’ where the Rons had left it OUT, but with a nod and a wink.
The whole tenor of the Ronnies’ show was based around the ‘tradition’ of British seaside postcard innuendo (Barker was a keen collector of such ephemera). Their musical numbers were utterly based on it and Ronnie Barker’s monologues were full of innuendo-based spoonerisms. The whole point of the ‘Two Ninnies’ sketch – and the basis of its comedy – was that the NTNOCN guys stripped away the typical Two Rons innuendo and put in lots of the words that the Ronnies would have typically been thinly veiling in their routines.
It amazes me that the Rons just couldn’t see that. Or am I wrong?