The Two Ronnies – Sid & Lily, George and Edie


Trawling through the British Newspaper Archive on a separate research project, I stumbled across this interesting article from the Daily Mirror, dated the 29th of October 1979.

It reported how the death of Freddie Usher (who wrote the Lily & Edie segments of these joint sketches) might mean the characters wouldn’t be seen again  (John Sullivan was responsible for writing the Sid & George parts).

Whenever I watch these sketches I’m always conscious of the fact that I enjoy the segments with Sid & George much more than Lily & Edie’s contribution.  I’d previously thought that this was down to the fact that the Rons in drag never quite convinced (at least outside of their barnstorming musical numbers).

Certainly compared to the masters of the genre during the seventies – Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough – the Rons never seemed totally at ease during the Lily & Edie sketches, with the laughs (such as they were) being somewhat muted.

But this new nugget of information about the different writers could explain the disparity between the two halves.

I’d love to have a complete breakdown of the writing credits for The Two Ronnies but (unless anybody knows differently) there’s not one in circulation. A fair few sketches can be credited (most of Ronnie Barker’s contributions for example and various others, such as David Renwick’s Mastermind) but a fair few are less certain.  Even identifying which sketches were penned by the Pythons isn’t clear cut.

Moving back to Sid & Lily, George and Edie, it’s interesting that their slot in series seven (broadcast between December 1978 and February 1979) is right in the middle of the programme, exactly where – in previous series – the film serial would have been.  Since inflation was biting and budgets were being cut, I can only assume that this year the Rons weren’t able to afford the type of lavish serial they’d previously enjoyed.

So this cheap studio sketch had to suffice (the running time of each episode tended to be about five minutes shorter than previous years as well).

A last point – if there’s one thing that’s always irked me, it’s the fact that the doubles of Barker and Corbett (seen in the opening titles) look nothing like them.  The double of Barker is somewhat on the thin side whilst the faux Corbett seems a little tall.  Never mind, one day I’m sure I’ll get over it ….

6 thoughts on “The Two Ronnies – Sid & Lily, George and Edie

  1. Before people had video recorders it was easier to watch a series of self contained sketches rather tha follow a serial.

    When John Sullivan died the BBC repeated an edition of The Two Ronnies as a tribute, and it was one from the 1978-79 series. I thought they chose this edition because it didn’t have an episode of a serial.

    I saw an interview with the legendary Michael Hurll, and he said that when he took over The Two Ronnies he didn’t try to change the format because it was already a winner. But he did make once change to the format, he dropped the serial in favour of the mini-movies.


    • Prior to this series, all but one had featured a serial so I tend to lean towards budget issues being the season for the change this year – if the money had been available I would have expected a run of different filmed items as per the last few runs in the eighties.

      Although one benefit to dropping the serial is that it then becomes easier to repeat the odd episode out of sequence.

      The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town apart, I tended to find the serials a bit of a slog, so I wasn”t too unhappy when they were eventually dropped for good. I might take a closer look at them sometime, to see if I can pinpoint what works for me and what doesn’t.


      • Do you know what the serials were?

        I remember Phantom Raspberry Blower, The Worm that turned, and the three Piggy Malone and Charlie Farley series, Death Can Be Fatal, Stop, You’re Killing Me and Ship of Thieves. What were the others?


  2. Hampton Wick during series one and Done to Death during series two (the first Piggy/Charley serial) were the others. Series three featured different television spoofs (Star Trek, Jason King and Colditz amongst others) whilst from series ten to twelve the serial format was dropped in favour of one-offs.


  3. There were four Piggy Malone & Charley Farley serials: Done to Death, Death Can Be Fatal, Stop You’re Killing Me and Band of Slaves. They always looked expensive to make (especially Band of Slaves) but had a good mix of comedy and mystery.


  4. I can remember Sid & Lily, George and Edie very well. Yes, may have been the result of budget cuts but they did their best with what they had. Although a fan of the Two Ronnies I was never keen on them in drag and Ronnie Barker stated quite often that he hated dressing as a woman. Ronnie B was a collector of saucy seaside postcards and I think there’s a fair chance that the opening sequence, where Sid and George perve at a bikini-clad girl to the disgust of their wives was his idea.


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