A local actor and author who penned sketches for The Two Ronnies has paid tribute to Ronnie Corbett.
The diminutive Scots funny man died this week aged 85 after a battle with a form of motor-neurone disease, as officials were reportedly considering honouring him with a knighthood.
Atherton scribe Dave Dutton, who has written for many of Britain’s top comics, said that it was the popular TV double act who gave him an early big break.
He wrote on Facebook: “One of the big thrills of my early career was receiving a personal letter from him asking me to write for him when I was a comedy scriptwriter.
“I wrote bits and pieces for the Two Ronnies and a highlight was being invited to a writers’ meeting and nosh-up in the Mayfair hotel in London with the likes of Barry Cryer, David Renwick and Spike Mullins when the Two Ronnies themselves kept topping up our wine glasses.
“It was actually like being in a Two Ronnies sketch.
“They were very hospitable gentlemen and amazing character actors.
“You brought joy and laughter to the nation little Ron. Job done. RIP.”
Comic Jimmy Tarbuck said last night that pal Ronnie Corbett did not want him to see him as he battled suspected amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
It is understood a panel that bestows royal honours had received letters from famous names in support of his nomination, and if approved the actor and comedian could have become Sir Ronnie in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours.
Tarbuck, 76, fought back tears as he told Good Morning Britain he was aware of Corbett’s illness.
Asked if he knew he had motor neurone disease, Tarbuck said: “Yes I did know he wasn’t very well, and I knew exactly...sorry I’m getting a bit choked...what he had.
“And he didn’t want to see you. He said ‘I don’t want to see you like this’, but I’d speak to him on the phone. And when you did anything with him or for him, you always got a letter from him, that’s how correct he was. But yes I did know, unfortunately, that he wasn’t very well.”
Writing in the Daily Mail, a friend of the entertainer, Michael Thornton, said he contacted the Cabinet Office to propose a knighthood “several months ago”. He said there was a “virtual stampede on the part of celebrated figures” when it came to gathering letters in support of the nomination.
According to the Daily Telegraph, a low-key campaign led by comedian David Walliams to include Corbett on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was launched amid concerns over his deteriorating health.
Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes, who sits on the arts and media honours committee, told the newspaper he thought “he should have been awarded a knighthood”, although he refused to discuss the workings of the panel.
The entertainer’s first honour came in 1978 when he was made an OBE alongside comedy partner Barker.
In 2011, Corbett said he did not imagine he would receive a knighthood, adding that Barker, who died in 2005, should have been made Sir Ronnie. Corbett was made a CBE in 2012, and the knighthood some felt he also deserved eluded him.