Nostalgia is exactly what it used to be

Seasonal whinging tells us that the great tradition of comedy on British television is waning. But for those of us nostalgic for “golden oldies” – Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies and lots, lots more – the BBC has a new site.

In my childhood, Christmas was not Christmas without Morecambe and Wise (pictured right) and their end of year comedy special. A highlight was the famous people they could lure on to their show and, famously, not pay.

The chief guest – usually a well known actress or actor – was obliged to appear in one of Ernie’s plays “what I wrote” and be the butt of Eric’s anarchic humour. Who will ever forget André Previn conducting a stage band while Eric attempts to play the Grieg piano concerto?

This year the BBC is feting The Two Ronnies. Alas, one of them – Ronnie Barker (the taller gent in the photo left) has not been with us since 2005. All of their shows have long been available on DVD and, doubtless, on YouTube. But the BBC has commissioned new material, some of which it has generously placed on the Comedy website.

One of the most famous Two Ronnies sketches, based on verbal confusions, is “Four Candles”. Check it out, if you don’t know it. In an updated version for digital technology buffs, Harry Enfield stands in for the inimitable Ronny Barker to play opposite the now octogenarian Ronnie Corbett. Nostalgia it may be, but long live the BBC!

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