Eleven years ago this week, the comedy world was in mourning at the death of one of Britain’s best-loved stars.
It was on October 3, 2005 that television favourite Ronnie Barker died at the age of 76, his work with Ronnie Corbett on The Two Ronnies and sitcoms such as Porridge, The Magnificent Evans and Clarence earning him plaudits from far and wide.
However, in Doncaster his name will forever be associated with classic cornershop sitcom Open All Hours and his effortless portrayal of stuttering, penny-pinching Northern shopkeeper Arkwright who spent his days berating his put-upon nephew Granville (Sir David Jason) or lusting after buxom Nurse Gladys Emmanuel (Lynda Baron).
With outdoor filming for a third series of Still Open All Hours – an updated version with Granville now running the shop – recently completed at the converted Beautique hair salon on the corner of Lister Avenue and Scarth Avenue in Balby, for many it feels like the stars never went away.
But from 1973-1985, residents living in the normally quiet terrace streets could peer out of their windows and catch a glimpse of the show being filmed.
Fans would regularly flock to the set and Barker and Jason, as well as the rest of the cast, were always happy to chat to fans and sign autographs as well as pose for photographs .
When the BBC crews arrived, salon owner Helen Ibbotson would look on as hairdryers and curlers were taken away and replaced with tins, packets and other assorted shop clutter with the famed sign above the door completing the transformation from Doncaster hairdresser to a pile ’em high, sell ’em expensive comedy gem.
Pleas for Granville to f-f-fer fetch his cloth, a killer cash register and swindling befuddled customers and Barker’s “funny old day” monologue rapidly became show institutions, making it one of Britain’s best-loved sitcoms.