Some names carve an indelible niche in television history: Ronnie Barker is undoubtably one of these.
Whether presenting one half of The Two Ronnies, or in sitcom playing diffident shopkeeper Arkwright in Open All Hours or the wily Norman Stanley Fletcher from Porridge, Barker has always displayed an exemplary comic talent. Starting out as a serious actor, Barker found his natural metier on TV with success on The Frost Report before forming the famous partnership with Ronnie Corbett. His retirement in the late 1980s caused general astonishment, but what emerges clearly from McCabe's affectionate profile is that Barker is a family man whose work has always been balanced in tandem with his home life. Having enjoyed a long and fruitful career he felt amply fulfilled, tempted out of retirement only to play Churchill's butler in acclaimed 2002 drama The Gathering Storm, a success that has happily presaged the return of The Two Ronnies in 2005. In a book intended principally as a career biography, McCabe pays warm tribute to a consummately gifted performer who has, as David Jason's foreword attests, 'made the nation laugh' with sheer delight for many decades.