Both comedians wore glasses, which became their “trademark”
Of all the sketches performed by The Two Ronnies, just about everyone’s favourite sketch is “The Hardware Shop”, commonly called “Four Candles” or “Fork Handles”.
The “Four Candles” sketch, originally titled “The Hardware Shop” or “Annie Finkhouse” is a sketch from the BBC comedy The Two Ronnies. Written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym of Gerald Wiley, it was first broadcast on Saturday, 4 September 1976 on BBC1. Word play and homophones exhibit Barker’s fascination with the English language and is cleverly used to powerful comic effect in this sketch. A shopkeeper, played by Ronnie Corbett, in a hardware shop becomes increasingly frustrated by a customer, played by Barker, because he continuously misunderstands what he is requesting.
A script for the sketch in Ronnie Barker’s handwriting was discovered in 2006 and was sold at auction for £48,500 in December 2007.
The sketch was inspired by a real incident in a hardware shop in Hayes Middlesex, details of which were submitted by the shop owners as possible sketch material.
In a hardware shop. Ronnie Corbett is behind the counter, wearing a warehouse jacket. He has just finished serving a customer.
It’s on YouTube ►
The request was for “bill-hooks”. The audience is intended to infer that the shopkeeper misread it as “bollocks” or “pillocks”.
Barker later rewrote the ending of the sketch, citing the reason as dissatisfaction with the obscurity and coarseness of the “bill-hooks” reference. He revealed in the last episode of The Two Ronnies Sketchbook in 2005 that, instead of another male shop assistant coming out and replacing Corbett, a large-bosomed lady would come out and say “Right then young man, what kind of knockers are you after?”
BBC 1 broadcast a one-off programme with Ronnie Corbett on Christmas Day 2010 to celebrate his 80th birthday. In one segment of the programme he appeared with Harry Enfield in a rather fruity Blackberry Sketch.
Enfield plays the part of the proprietor of a greengrocer’s shop, and Corbett a disgruntled customer.
See it on the BBC iPlayer ►.