As might be expected from the Two Ronnies, there’s several wordplay orientated sketches in the show. The first (upper class city gents who can’t pronounce their words properly) is amusing enough, but does slightly outstay its welcome.
Ronnie B’s monologue is delivered by a milkman (H.M. Quinn) in the style of the Queen’s Christmas speech. His delivery clearly appeals to at least one member of the audience (listen out for some very audible female squealing on the most innocuous of lines). The majority of the monologue doesn’t actually contain any jokes (just some milk-based wordplay). The idea that Barker is talking like the Queen is presumably supposed to do most of the comic heavy lifting.
Next up are a couple of Northern road-workers who exhume some golden oldies from the Old Jokes Home, such as –
RONNIE C: Sithee, does tha believe in reincarnation?
RONNIE B: Well, it’s all right on fruit salad, but I don’t like it in me tea.
Following the very Chrissmassy musical number (the Rons dressed as a couple of Stereo Santas) and a quick Ronnie C solo sketch we move into the best part of the show. First up is another wordplay sketch – with the Ronnies as two soldiers in a WW1 trench. Ronnie C has the unfortunate knack of mishearing everything that Ronnie B says, such as –
RONNIE B: God, I wish I were back in Blightly.
RONNIE C: Do you, sir? What sort of nightie, sir? Black frilly one?
RONNIE B: Sounded like a Jerry rifle.
RONNIE C: Bit strange in the trenches, sir. A sherry trifle.
It’s a lovely, typical Two Ronnies sketch. The courtroom sketch that follows is something a little different. It opens quite normally, with Ronnie C prosecuting and Ronnie B in the dock, but it quickly becomes a parody of several popular quiz shows (What’s my Line?, Call My Bluff, Blankety Blank, Mastermind, The Price is Right) – it’s also a pleasure to see Patrick Troughton as the judge.
Ronnie B has a solo singing spot as Lightweight Louie Danvers (not too dissimilar to Fatbelly Jones it has to be said).
Following Ronnie C in the chair, it’s the big film – The Ballad of Snivelling and Grudge. Guest star Peter Wyngarde is a delight – mainly because he takes the whole thing totally seriously. There’s no winks to camera and his dead-pan performance is spot on. And if, like me, you can spot Pat Gorman in the background, then you’ve probably watched far, far too much old British television. If you don’t know who Pat Gorman is, then you’ve clearly not watched enough!
No news items to end the show – instead it’s a old-fashioned style song about Christmas. It’s somewhat comforting and sums up the Two Ronnies quite well. By the mid eighties they were pretty much out of step with contemporary comedy (and Barker knew that their time was nearly up) but it doesn’t really matter – great comedy is timeless, and there’s several examples here that still work thirty years later and will surely endure for decades to come.
5 thoughts on “The Two Ronnies Christmas Special 1984”
I have a feeling that the Milkman sketch may have been by “Gerard Wiley”, and lifted straight from Ronnie B.’s radio series “Lines from my Grandfather’s Forehead”, which as a medium didn’t telegraph quite so quickly that the he wasn’t paying The Queen/ King.
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The Judge is Right was a gem of a sketch. The previous day Patrick Troughton was on tv in the final episode of Box of Delights.
This programme was repeated on Christmas Eve 1986.
During the New Year weekend I went away and the only thing to read was a copy of the Sun, and there were two items that really insulted my intelligence. Harold Macmillan died at the end of December, and the Sun said that Macmillan’s policies were alright for the time but it’s Thatcher’s policies that count today. It seemed likely that there would be an election the following year so this was blatant political propoganda. (But not as blatant as in the 1992 election.)
And the other article that insulted my intelligence was the review of Christmas tv programmes. They said that one of the low points was The Two Ronnies which they thought was outdated, and it wasn’t even a new programme, ut was a repeat of the previous year’s show. (in fact it was a repeat of the show from two years earlier.) It was a repeat showing for the benefit of people who missed it first time round, or who enjoyed it first time and want to see it again. And it had the Judge is Right sketch which was a gem of a sketch.
But what really insulted mu intelligence was that one of the shows they picked out as a highpoint was the Christmas Day episode of EastEnders which couldn’t have been less suitable for broadcasting on Christmas Day if one of the characters had died.
@zanygang, I pity you only having The Sun to read and their television critic was way out. Yes the 1982 special was the weakest they’d ever done, but 1984’s was far better and The Judge Is Right sketch was a really clever send up of The Price Is Right. Perhaps the critic didn’t like ITV game shows, which appealed to Sun readers far more than good comedy, being sent up.
I don’t think that you’ve listened closely enough to ‘The Milkmans Speech’. There are milk references throughout. It hasn’t aged well because the clever use of the UK Dairy and Milk suppliers will pass over many heads: Co-Operative, United, Express….
It is Ronnie B doing what he does best: playing with our wonderous language.
I’ve listened to it quite closely thanks, and I understood the wordplay. I personally just didn’t find it terribly funny.