It's goodnight from him: A look back at Ronnie Corbett's life

Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA

British entertainer Ronnie Corbett has died today at the age 85 bringing to an end a decades long career that saw the diminutive star hailed "one of the funniest" comedians of his generation.

Perhaps best known as one of 'The Two Ronnies' Corbett was a versatile comedian who forged a lengthy career as both a stand-up and sitcom star - often with the help of his famous partner Ronnie Barker.

His long professional association with Barker produced one of the most popular TV programmes of the late 20th century which ran from 1971 for over a decade and gave birth to the famous quote: "It's goodnight from me ... and it's goodnight from him."

The Two Ronnies made Corbett and Barker household names Credit: Jonathon Furniss/EMPICS Entertainment

Born Ronald Balfour Corbett in Edinburgh on December 4, 1930, Ronnie spent his early years in Scotland and was educated at the James Gillespie School and the Royal High School, Edinburgh.

He went on to begin what would be lifelong career in the spotlight at the age of 15 when he played the Wicked Aunt in a pantomime at his church youth club in Edinburgh, and despite a short break working in agriculture and the Royal Air Force, he soon made it back to the stage.

Early in his career Corbett practiced his craft doing summer seasons and intimate revues while also running the bar at the Buckstone Club off Haymarket where he first met Ronnie Barker.

By the 60s he had managed to forge a reputation for himself and was invited by David Frost to join Barker and John Cleese in The Frost Report in a move that Corbett always said "turned my life around".

Corbett was a cast member on the infamous The Frost Report Credit: PA Archive

Subsequent TV success followed with Frost on Sunday, Corbett's Follies, and sitcom No, That's Me Over Here.

But Corbett and Barker finally got their big break when they hosted the Baftas in a year when a technical fault gave them the opportunity to show off their comedic skills as they filled several unscripted minutes while the show was off-air.

High-ranking BBC executives were so impressed with their improvisation that they immediately signed them up and The Two Ronnies was born.

Corbett said of The Two Ronnies: "We had a certain kind of material that was not dangerously esoteric. It's difficult to be clean and clever at the same time, but a lot of our stuff was." Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA

It wasn't just TV that made Corbett a famous name though he also had many starring roles in the theatre, including The Seven Year Itch, Out of Order, The Dressmaker later in his career as well as a star turn in the film Fierce Creatures and Casino Royale.

In fact he became such a big name over the course of his life that Corbett was even awarded a CBE in the 2012 New Year Honours for his services to charity and the entertainment industry, an honour which prompted him to joke his medal was "very pretty".

He is survived by his wife Anne and two daughters.