Four Candles

Comedy sketch

Harrington\'s hardware shop in Broadstairs, Kent, part of the inspiration for the Four Candles sketch

Four Candles is a sketch from the BBC comedy show The Two Ronnies, written by Ronnie Barker under the pseudonym of Gerald Wiley and first broadcast on 18 September 1976. Comic effect is largely generated through word play and homophones as an ironmonger or hardware shopkeeper, played by Ronnie Corbett, becomes increasingly frustrated by a customer, played by Barker, because he misunderstands what the customer is requesting.

A script for the sketch in Ronnie Barker\'s handwriting was discovered on Antiques Roadshow in 2006 and subsequently authenticated by Ronnie Corbett, who noted that while it was unusual for Barker to write in red ink, it was undoubtedly his handwriting. Corbett surmised that the script might have originally been donated to a charity fund-raiser, as Barker, being uncomfortable with appearing in public, would often donate an item to charity events rather than appearing in person.

The sketch was inspired by a real incident in a hardware shop in Hayes, which was submitted by the owners as possible material. Further inspiration came from the range of goods stocked by Harrington\'s hardware store, located close to Ronnie Corbett\'s holiday home in Broadstairs, Kent.

The Four Candles, a pub in Oxford named after the sketch.

It was voted \'The Nation\'s Favourite Two Ronnies Sketch\' in a telephone vote on the Two Ronnies Night TV special, broadcast on BBC1 on 16 July 1999.

The sketch is widely held to be one of the most iconic sketches of the Two Ronnies. It was voted by the British public as the funniest comedy moment of the seventies in UKTV Gold\'s When Were We Funniest?.

It was placed fifth on Channel 4\'s list of the fifty greatest comedy sketches of all time.

It was ranked sixth most memorable television event in a survey of 2,000 viewers on behalf of digital TV service Freeview.

At Barker\'s memorial service in Westminster Abbey, the cross was accompanied up the aisle by four candles instead of the usual two. Similarly, at Corbett\'s memorial service in St John the Evangelist church in Shirley, Croydon, four candles were displayed at the back of the altar.

In Barker\'s home town of Oxford, a Wetherspoons pub on George Street is named The Four Candles after the sketch.

The original handwritten script was sold at auction for £48,500 in December 2007. In 2018 it was offered for auction at East Bristol Auctions in Bristol, with an estimate of £25,000–40,000.


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