Four Candles

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The Hardware Shop, better known as Four Candles, is a well-known comedy sketch by The Two Ronnies. Like many classic sketches, it has its roots in vaudeville comedy. Four Candles was written by Ronnie Barker under his oft-used pseudonym George Wiley. A purported manuscript of an early draft turned up on an episode of The Antiques Roadshow; its authenticity was later confirmed by Ronnie Corbett and it sold at auction for £48,500 [1], many times its estimated value.

The sketch opens in a general store. A customer (Ronnie Barker) asks the proprietor (Ronnie Corbett) for ‘four candles’. After the shop owner fetches them, the customer says that no, he wanted ‘four candles’. The confused owner indicates the candles, while the customer repeats ‘fork ‘’handles’ (fork handles) – ‘’handles for forks’. The word play continues, with the shopkeeper getting more and more frustrated.

In 2008 the pub chain JD Wetherspoon opened a public house in Oxford and called it The Four Candles after this sketch.