Ronnie Corbett’s funeral to be held next week

The late Ronnie Corbett. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The late Ronnie Corbett. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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The world of entertainment is set to bid a final farewell to Ronnie Corbett next week when his funeral takes place.

It is expected famous faces will gather alongside other friends and family as the Edinburgh-born 85-year-old’s life is remembered in a church near his home in south London on Monday.

The Two Ronnies star, who has been hailed as a “true great of British comedy”, died on March 31 with a suspected form of motor neurone disease.

Corbett was one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers and his partnership with Ronnie Barker in the BBC sketch show was one of the most popular of the 1970s and 1980s.

The funeral, which is by invitation only, will take place at St John the Evangelist Church, Shirley, followed by a short service at Croydon Crematorium, family friend Michael Thornton said.

It is expected the comedian’s daughters will pay tribute, and a wake will follow at Addington Golf Club.

Remembering Corbett, Mr Thornton said: “I think he’ll be tremendously missed by his friends but I actually think he’ll be around in people’s minds and hearts for a long time to come.

“I hope it will be a fitting send-off.”

At the time of his death, Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, described Corbett as “quite simply one of the true greats of British comedy”.

While Corbett’s funeral will be held in England, there have been calls for a permanent memorial in the Lothians to the comedy great.

Fellow entertainers and politicians have insisted that he must be publicly recognised in the city he called home, though opinions differ on the best way to celebrate his life.

Ideas so far include 
renaming city landmarks, erecting a statue in his honour and dedicating a Fringe comedy award to the star.

Among the more radical proposals was renaming the St James Centre in his honour when it reopens in 2020 following a £850 million revamp.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson has said he would “encourage” people to come forward with suggestions on how to honour one of the Capital’s most famous sons.

He said: “The flood of tributes for Ronnie from local people has been tremendous. There are lots of people who would love to see the comedian’s memory live on in some way or another in the Capital.”

Born in Edinburgh in 1930, Corbett was brought up in a Marchmont tenement, attending James Gillespie’s High School and the Royal High. He regularly returned to the city throughout his life and was a keen supporter of the Fringe.

Latterly, Corbett owned a house in Gullane and was a prominent member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield.

He was also a keen supporter of the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.

Tom Brock, chief executive of the attraction, said it would be “fitting” to have some sort of public recognition of Corbett in the area.

newsen@edinburghnews.com