Corbett was born in Edinburgh, the son of William Balfour Corbett (1898–1974), a master baker, and his London-born wife Annie Elizabeth Corbett (née Main; 1900–1991).[He had a brother about six years younger, and a sister about ten years younger than him.
Corbett was educated at James Gillespie’s High School and the Royal High School in the city, but did not attend university. After leaving school, he decided he wanted to be an actor while performing in amateur theatricals at a church youth club. His first job, however, was with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Corbett served his compulsory national service with the Royal Air Force, during which he was the shortest in height commissioned officer in the British Forces. A former aircraftman 2nd class, he was commissioned into the secretarial branch of the RAF as a pilot officer (national service) on 25 May 1950. He received the service number 2446942. He transferred to the reserve (national service list) on 28 October 1951, thereby ending his period of active service. He was promoted to flying officer on 6 September 1952.
On 30 May 1966, Corbett married actress and dancer Anne Hart; they had two daughters, actresses Emma and Sophie Corbett. Their first child, Andrew, had a heart defect and died at six weeks old at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.
Corbett lived in Shirley, London for many years.] He also had a home in Gullane, Scotland. He was a beekeeper and kept hives at his second home.
Corbett was a golfer and appeared in celebrity and pro–am events; in 2009, he made a documentary with Colin Montgomerie in which they played at Gleneagles. A keen cricket fan, Corbett was also a president of the cricketing charity the Lord’s Taverners (1982 and 1987). He supported his local football club, Crystal Palace FC, as well as his hometown club, Heart of Midlothian FC.
In mid-2014, Corbett attended a party at 10 Downing Street hosted by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.In August 2014, Corbett was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September’s referendum on that issue.
On 31 March 2016, Corbett died at the age of 85, at Shirley Oaks Hospital in Shirley, London, surrounded by his family. He was survived by his wife and two daughters. He had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in March 2015.
John Cleese said that Corbett had “the best timing” he had ever watched. Bruce Forsyth said Corbett’s death marked “one of the saddest days of my life”. David Walliams, a close friend of Corbett, said that he was his “comedy idol”.
Corbett’s funeral service, for family and friends, was held on 18 April 2016, at the St John the Evangelist Church near his home in Shirley. In tribute to one of his classic Two Ronnies comedy sketches, four candles were displayed at the back of the altar. He was cremated following a private service at Croydon Crematorium.  Mourners included Sir Michael Parkinson, David Walliams, Rob Brydon, and Jimmy Tarbuck. Barry Cryer, who worked with and first met Corbett 50 years ago, said, “I can’t think of him without smiling… I’m here and tipping my hat to him.
by Simon schofield