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Four candles lit as stars bid farewell to comedy great Ronnie Corbett

Published 18/04/2016

A wreath with a note attached lies in the hearse carrying the coffin of British comedian Ronnie Corbett to his funeral in Croydon on April 18, 2016.
Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for
A wreath with a note attached lies in the hearse carrying the coffin of British comedian Ronnie Corbett to his funeral in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Sir Michael Parkinson arrives for the funeral service of Ronnie Corbett, which is being held at St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
File photo dated 17/04/14 Ronnie Corbett whose funeral takes place today at the St John the Evangelist Church near his home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 18, 2016. The entertainer died last month aged 85 having been diagnosed with a suspected form of motor neurone disease. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Mourners comfort each other as they leave St John the Evangelist Church, in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following the funeral service of Ronnie Corbett. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Mourners comfort each other as they leave St John the Evangelist Church, in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following the funeral service of Ronnie Corbett. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Ronnie Corbett's widow Anne Hart (centre) leaves St John the Evangelist Church, in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following his funeral service, with their daughters Sophie (right) and Emma. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Ronnie Corbett's coffin is carried from St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Ronnie Corbett's wife Anne Hart arrives for his funeral service at St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Ronnie Corbett's wife Anne Hart arrives for his funeral service at St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Sir Bruce Forstyh's wife Lady Wilnelia Forstyh, leaves St John the Evangelist Church, in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following the funeral service of Ronnie Corbett. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Harry Hill (left) and Jimmy Tarbuck leave St John the Evangelist Church, in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following the funeral service for Ronnie Corbett. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
David Walliams leaves St John the Evangelist Church, in Shirley, Croydon, south London, following the funeral service for Ronnie Corbett. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Ronnie Corbett's wife Anne Hart (centre) arrives with their daughters, Sophie (left) and Emma, for his funeral service, at St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Rob Brydon arrives with his wife Claire Holland, for the funeral service of Ronnie Corbett, at St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The wife and daughter of Jimmy Tarbuck, Pauline (left) and Liza, arrive for the funeral service of Ronnie Corbett, at St John the Evangelist Church, near the late comedian's home in Shirley, Croydon, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 18, 2016. See PA story FUNERAL Corbett. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
A wreath with a note attached lies in the hearse carrying the coffin of British comedian Ronnie Corbett to his funeral in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
SHIRLEY, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Rob Brydon and Jimmy Tarbuck arrive for the funeral of entertainer Ronnie Corbett on April 18, 2016 in Shirley, England. Ronnie Corbett best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, died aged 85. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Sir Michael Parkinson attends the funeral service of British comedian Ronnie Corbett in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
British comedian David Walliams attends the funeral service of British comedian Ronnie Corbett in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
British comedian Rob Brydon attends the funeral service of British comedian Ronnie Corbett in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
British comedian Jimmy Tarbuck attends the funeral service of British comedian Ronnie Corbett in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Policemen salute as the hearse carrying the coffin of British comedian Ronnie Corbett arrives for the funeral service in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
British writer Barry Cryer attends the funeral service of British comedian Ronnie Corbett in Croydon on April 18, 2016. Ronnie Corbett, one of Britain's most popular comedians, best known for "The Two Ronnies", his double-act with Ronnie Barker, died on March 31, aged 85. / AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNISADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
SHIRLEY, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Ronnie Corbetts coffin arrives for his funeral on April 18, 2016 in Shirley, England. Ronnie Corbett best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, died aged 85. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
SHIRLEY, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Harry Hill (L) arrives for the funeral of entertainer Ronnie Corbett April 18, 2016 in Shirley, England. Ronnie Corbett best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, died aged 85. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Four candles burned at the back of the altar as grandees from the golden age of British television paid their respects at the funeral of Ronnie Corbett.

The entertainer died last month aged 85 having been diagnosed with a suspected form of motor neurone disease.

A service attended by family and friends was held at the St John the Evangelist Church near his home in Shirley, Croydon, south London.

The candle display referenced one of Corbett's most popular sketches as part of The Two Ronnies alongside Ronnie Barker, known as Four Candles - or Fork Handles.

Stars including Barry Cryer, Sir Michael Parkinson, Harry Hill, Jimmy Tarbuck, Rob Brydon and David Walliams were among the mourners.

After the ceremony, Sir Michael said the service "hit exactly the right note", adding: "It was the least showbizzy funeral I've been to."

He said: "He wasn't a very showbiz person in that sense. He was unaffected by fame and recognition. It didn't bother him."

Sir Michael said Corbett was "a serious man, he was an intelligent man", adding that he was a "stickler" for manners.

The former chat show host said that when comedians die "all that remains is the echoes of forgotten laughter".

Sir Michael said of his friend Corbett: "What you saw is what you got. He was modest, self-effacing, he was a brilliant comic, very good actor too, very good comedy actor.

Television comedy duo The Two Ronnies, Ronnie Barker (left) and Ronnie Corbett. (Photo by David Cairns/Getty Images)
Television comedy duo The Two Ronnies, Ronnie Barker (left) and Ronnie Corbett. (Photo by David Cairns/Getty Images)
Undated handout screen grab from BBC video of Ronnie Corbett (left) and Ronnie Barker in the Four Candles sketch, as entertainer Ronnie Corbett died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
A metal statue of Ronnie Corbett in Croydon, south London, as the entertainer died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 18, 2010 shows British comedian Ronnie Corbett as he walks down the catwalk during Naomi Campbell's 'Fashion for Relief Haiti' charity fashion show at Somerset House in London. AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on February 16, 2012 shows British comedian Ronnie Corbett poses with his medal after he received the honour Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London on February 16, 2012. AFP/Getty Images
Ronnie Corbett attends a reception for the Best of Britain's Creative Industries at The Foreign Office on June 30, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Ronnie Corbett being made a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, as the entertainer died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
File photo dated 08/03/05 of comedian Ronnie Corbett (left) receiving the TRIC Special Award with Barry Cryer, as Corbett died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
Sir David Jason (left) and Ronnie Corbett with a statue with his long time comedy partner Ronnie Barker at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, as Corbett died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
Scottish comedian and actor Ronnie Corbett stars in the pantomime 'Cinderella', UK, 19th December 1971. (Photo by P. Shirley/Daily Express/Getty Images)
File photo dated 10/03/66 of David Frost conducting the cast of The Frost Report including Ronnie Corbett (third right) at the BBC Television Theatre in London in preparation for the first night of the series. PA
Ronnie Corbett Dies aged 85 16th November 1970: British comedian, Ronnie Corbett dancing with two cabaret dancers during a rehearsal for his two week season at the Savoy Hotel, London. (Photo by Michael Webb/Keystone/Getty Images)
Radio comedian Ronnie Corbett posing with his finger on his cheek, circa 1955. (Photo by Denis De Marney/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Undated handout file photo issued by the BBC of Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker during filming of The Two Ronnies, as entertainer Ronnie Corbett died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
File photo dated 08/03/05 of comedian Ronnie Corbett receiving the TRIC Special Award, as the entertainer died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
Undated handout file photo issued by the BBC of of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett during filming of The Two Ronnies, as entertainer Ronnie Corbett died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
File photo dated 24/05/06 of Ronnie Corbett playing from the side of a bunker during the BMW Championship Pro-Am at Wentworth, as the entertainer died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
Undated handout file photo issued by the BBC of Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker during filming of The Two Ronnies, as entertainer Ronnie Corbett died today aged 85 surrounded by his family, his publicist has said. PA
File photo dated 14/01/76 of comedian Ronnie Corbett getting the anti-litter show rolling with the aid of Lulu and refuse collectors in London, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 04/09/80 of Ronnie Corbett (left) and Ronnie Baker while filming on location at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 27/04/88 of comedians Ronnie Corbett (left) and Ronnie Barker, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 30/09/10 of Ronnie Corbett with a statue with his long time comedy partner Ronnie Barker, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 01/07/10 of comedian Ronnie Corbett, who has died. PA
File photo dated 03/05/09 of Ronnie Corbett meeting burlesque dancer Immodesty Blaize, as the comedian has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 07/02/78 of comedians Ronnie Corbett (left) and Ronnie Barker at Buckingham Palace after receiving the OBE from the Queen, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 17/04/14 of comedian Ronnie Corbett, who has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 30/06/14 of comedian Ronnie Corbett and his wife Anne Hart, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 16/05/10 of Ronnie Corbett and wife Anne Hart, as Corbett has died aged 85. PA
File photo dated 03/03/06 of comedian Ronnie Corbett, who has died. PA

"And as a guy to be a friend of, he was just unbeatable."

Sir Michael said he will be "greatly missed", adding: "It's a sad day."

Before the service, Tarbuck said Corbett was a "great guy" and added that the atmosphere would be "very sad for the family and for all his friends".

He went on: "He was much loved. Very correct guy, very funny fellow. Disciplinarian - I think that was because he was an officer in the RAF. But he was great company.

"I mean, he was a terrific laugh. Dreadful giggler. He used to get me at it when we worked together."

Prompting cheers from mourners nearby, Tarbuck said: "Much loved, and should have been knighted. That's definitely my opinion."

Corbett's coffin was adorned with white flowers, and the service ended with a recording of him singing Up's The Only Way To Go.

His final words in the song are: "God bless. Goodnight."

In a tribute during the service, Corbett's daughter Emma said: "This is undoubtedly the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And yet it is also a huge privilege."

She joked that the family had borrowed ideas from orders of service her mother had collected over the years, adding that the quote "Grief is the price we pay for love" was taken from Sir David Frost's service.

"My dad was truly loved. Yes, by the world - and as a family we have felt that with so many kind gestures and flowers and thoughts - but however today is not about Ronnie Corbett the national treasure - it's about Ronnie Corbett the husband, the father, the grandfather and the friend.

"He was loved and cherished and it is an enormous honour to be his daughter.

"His integrity, kindness, style and grace were ever present and never left him, even in death," she said.

The star's daughter joked about his height.

"For someone known for being short, he would stand next to me seven foot tall," she said.

Canon Arthur Quinn, a friend of Corbett for many years, conducted the service, and paid tribute to Corbett's wife of 50 years Anne Hart and daughters Emma and Sophie.

He said he wanted to underline "the love and care shown to Ronnie by Anne and Emma and Sophie and the grandchildren" down the years, but particularly more recently when he became "increasingly needy".

He added: "This family love is wonderful and needs to be praised."

Canon Quinn said Corbett "made us happy", adding that "just four candles" had been lit for the service - a reference to Corbett's famous sketch.

He said he played golf with Corbett nearly every Monday for many years.

"In all those years, he told me one joke which I'm not going to repeat," he said. "He was really a very serious man. We talked about all sorts of things, including religion," he added.

Sir Bruce Forsyth's wife Lady Wilnelia was among the mourners but her husband was absent. It is understood Sir Bruce, who had performed alongside Corbett, was too ill to attend as he recovers from surgery.

In her tribute, Corbett's daughter Emma said she wanted to thank her "darling" mother "for getting out of bed". According to reports, Corbett's widow suffered a health scare as she prepared for the funeral, and required tests in hospital.

Michael Thornton, a long-standing friend of the family, told the Daily Mail before the funeral: "I'm extremely relieved to be able to say that Anne is okay. They only kept her in for a couple of days for a safety-first health examination, and she is now back home with her family around her."

The cortege moved on to a local crematorium and the service was followed by a private wake at a nearby golf club.

Corbett became a household favourite in the 1970s alongside Barker in The Two Ronnies and continued to appear on screen into the 80s.

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