Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain. Ronnie Corbett. Copyright: ITV Studios.

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain

ITV documentary. 2 episodes (1 series) in 2011. Features Ronnie Corbett, Miranda Hart, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Ken Dodd, David Walliams, Stephen Merchant and others.

Press Clippings

Comedy Britain proved that Barker was the funny one

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain saw the comedian cavort with David Walliams, Ken Dodd and Rob Brydon, but once again it failed to raise a laugh.

Rachel Tarley, Metro, 14th August 2011

Ronnie's brand of humour might not be to everyone's taste, but as one half of one of Britain's greatest comedy duos, he is entitled to a little introspection in his old age. In the concluding episode of his two-part series, the legendary comedian cavorts with fellow comics Harry Hill, David Walliams and Rob Brydon in an effort to understand what inspired them to carve out a career making people laugh.

Rachel Tarley, Metro, 13th August 2011

The second half of the diminutive veteran's fluffy history of comedy sees him snoop round Harry Hill's unique prop store - see if you can spot stuff used in TV Burp. Next Corbett takes afternoon tea with David Walliams and his mother. Cue copious talk of cross-dressing. He also joins Rob Brydon for a round of golf, visits Dara O'Briain's favourite comedy club and takes a ferry across the Mersey with Ken Dodd. Finally, Corbett retells one of his most loved, free-wheeling monologues from the chair made famous in The Two Ronnies - and gets touchingly dewy-eyed over the memories it brings back of former partner-in-mirth Ronnie Barker.

The Telegraph, 12th August 2011

Ken Dodd slams new comedians

Legendary funnyman Ken Dodd has slammed modern comedy as "aggressive" and "cynical".

The Sun, 10th August 2011

This new ITV1 documentary sees Ronnie Corbett meeting up with some of his favourite comedians, past and present, while also looking back at key comedy moments.

As a result, this programme, on the whole, is not going to suit a die-hard comedy fan; because it covers lots of things that they will already know about, such as how The Two Ronnies came together, or the early radio history of Little Britain. This show is really more for the casual comedy observer who wants to learn more.

One thing that got me thinking, however, was that this first episode was all about comedy partnerships. However, Corbett didn't actually meet up with any double acts - just half of them, namely Miranda Hart, Stephen Merchant, David Mitchell, Matt Lucas and John Cleese (although admittedly there is a very good reason why Cleese's comedy partner was not on, seeing as how Graham Chapman has been dead for over 20 years).

If anything, this show seemed to be a comedian's version of Jim'll Fix It, with Corbett giving many of his comedians some exciting experiences. For example he allowed Miranda Hart to walk on to a stage where Morecambe and Wise had one of their greatest ever stage shows to the tune of "Bring Me Sunshine". Another segment saw Corbett getting Merchant a brand new tailor-made suit; another featured Corbett doing a Little Britain radio sketch, attempting to do Vicky Pollard - badly.

To be honest I was almost expecting Corbett to be sitting in his chair, holding a cigar and saying something along the lines of: "Now then, now then, I've got a letter from a Jim Davidson of London what says; 'Dear Ronnie, I haven't been on telly for years due to no-one liking my act because it is racist. So could you fix it for me to appear on your show?' Well, goodness gracious, unfortunately Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain does have a very tight budget, so Jim how would you like it if Ronnie fixed it for you to sing with the black and white minstrels?"

Having said all this I did like some of the archive clips that they showed, graphically onto any flat surface such as walls, clothing displays and theatre curtains. Some of them also featured clips I hadn't heard before such as one clip from The Goon Show which I found absolutely hilarious.

So, this show does contain the odd comedy laugh that you won't have heard of 50 times already, but other than that it is just a series of interviews and pleasant surprises.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 8th August 2011

Size has always been central to Ronnie Corbett's fame too - or rather, the lack of it. As if to prove the point, Matt Lucas described him as "a giant" in the introductory sequence of Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain. That sequence made this sound like a long and slightly tedious tour of Corbett's lunch companions, with the aim of presenting him as the patron saint of British comedy. In fact, it was utterly wonderful.

Miranda Hart, Stephen Merchant, David Mitchell and John Cleese were among those who shared insights into what makes comedians tick and comedy funny. The former is mainly the potential for going from bladder-wrenching insecurity to megalomania in the blink of an eye. The latter is mainly timing.

Corbett proved a superb and humble interrogator. He didn't address the decline of the sitcom and the relative rise of sketch shows, nor did he ask why so many comedies these days centre on flocks of people, rather than families, and what that says about our society. But he did remind us that contemporary British comedy is full of great talent, a useful corrective to the nostalgic defeatism of most televisual trips down memory lane.

Amol Rajan, The Independent, 8th August 2011

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain, Saturday 9pm, ITV1

There can be few more welcome TV sights than that of comedy legend Ronnie Corbett popping up on the small screen. I'm showing my age here, but I can remember when Saturday night entertainment meant sitting in front of The Two Ronnies and sniggering at their spoof news bulletins, word-play sketches and daft song and dance routines.

Jane Murphy, Orange TV, 7th August 2011

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain was short on laughs

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain wasn't actually very funny, considering the veteran entertainer was cavorting with the likes of Stephen Merchant, Matt Lucas and Miranda Hart.

Rachel Tarley, Metro, 7th August 2011

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain, ITV1, review

Chris Harvey reviews Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain (ITV1), which explored enduring elements of British comedy.

Chris Harvey, The Telegraph, 7th August 2011

If you have never seen Monty Python's parrot sketch, or are unfamiliar with Eric Morecambe's demolition of "Andrew Preview" ("I am playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order"), then this is for you. Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain is a handy primer for anyone who needs to work on their history of British comedy. For everyone else, it's an easy-going, if sometimes uncomfortably loose, hour of very familiar comedians talking about comedy. As Corbett is beloved of the new wave of Brit-coms - he had cameos in Extras, where he snorted cocaine from a toilet seat, and Little Britain, where he was confronted by the grotesque Bubbles DeVere - his pals are modish. So he has an odd little interlude with Miranda Hart, whom he accompanies to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon, spiritual home of Hart's beloved Morecambe and Wise. Then Corbett has lunch with Stephen Merchant, a picnic on a punt with David Mitchell and afternoon tea with John Cleese. And with Matt Lucas he tries to be Vicky Pollard, and is terrible.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 6th August 2011