Ronald William George Barker (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005) was an English actor, comedian and writer. He was known for roles in British comedy television series such as Porridge, The Two Ronnies, and Open All Hours. Barker began acting in Oxford amateur dramatics whilst working as a bank clerk, having dropped out of higher education. He moved into repertory theatre with the Manchester Repertory Company at Aylesbury and decided he was best suited to comic roles. He had his first success at the Oxford Playhouse and in roles in the West End including Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound. During this period, he was in the cast of BBC radio and television comedies such as The Navy Lark. He got his television break with the satirical sketch series The Frost Report in 1966, where he met future collaborator, Ronnie Corbett. He joined David Frost's production company and starred in ITV shows. After rejoining the BBC, Barker achieved significant success with the sketch show The Two Ronnies (1971–87), with Ronnie Corbett. The duo maintained their careers as solo performers; Barker notably starred as inmate Norman Stanley Fletcher in the sitcom Porridge (1974–77) and its sequel Going Straight (1978) and as shopkeeper Arkwright in Open All Hours (1976–85). He wrote comedy under his own name, though for much of his written material after 1968 he adopted pseudonyms (including "Gerald Wiley") to avoid pre-judgments of his writing talent. He won a BAFTA for best light entertainment performance four times, among other awards, and received an OBE in 1978. Later television sitcoms such as The Magnificent Evans and Clarence were less successful and he retired in December 1987. The following year, he opened an antiques shop with his wife, Joy. After 1999, he appeared in smaller, non-comic roles in films. He died of heart failure on 3 October 2005, aged 76.
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