Ronald Lawrence Morisco-Tarr, professionally known as Ron Tarr (14th November 1936 – 20th October 1997) was a British television and film actor who played many roles but gained cult status as “Big Ron” on Eastenders. He played the role until his tragic death from cancer in 1997, although he continued to appear onscreen until early 1998.
Ron was born in Willesden in Middlesex, England and got his first acting role in 1973 in the hugely successful Carry On franchise in the film Carry On Girls where he played a bearded audience member. This was followed by appearances in many television series such as Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Space 1999, Are You Being Served?, The Gentle Touch, The Comic Strip Presents: 5 Go Mad in Dorset and Dramarama. He also notched up a number of film appearances including A View To A Kill, Eat the Rich (he also cameos in Motorhead’s music video soundtrack of the film) and Willow.
Ron was best known for his role “Big Ron” in the BBC soap opera Eastenders. A role which he played from the show’s inception in 1985 to just before his death in October 1997. His character had very few central storylines but was often seen interacting with the main characters in the show. Throughout his time on the show he was often depicted as a friendly wheeler dealer who could be counted on if any trouble was occurring. Many times in the shows history characters backed down when Big Ron stood up.
It 1989 he helped advertise the Do-It-All DIY chain of stores (3:10 below):
Whilst in Eastenders, Ron appeared in the Doctor Who episode Dimensions in Time, a charity special crossover between the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and the soap opera EastEnders that ran in two parts on 26 and 27 November 1993. It was filmed on the EastEnders’ Albert Square set and features several of the stars of that programme at the time. Produced for the Children in Need charity, following Doctor Who’s hiatus in 1989 this special was the only dramatisation broadcast in celebration of the show’s 30th anniversary.
At the end of Part One, viewers were asked to phone in and vote for which EastEnders character would save the Doctor at the start of Part Two. Two versions of the scene were filmed, one featuring ‘Big’ Ron and the other Mandy. The money raised from phone calls went to Children in Need. The result of the vote was announced prior to the screening of Part Two. The version featuring Mandy was broadcast after it won 56% of the vote.
The Big Ron version can be seen below:
After his death, he appeared in pre-recorded episodes that he had filmed before his death. To explain the absence of his character, in early 1998 his character was written out of the series in a storyline in which Big Ron won the lottery and moved to Spain.
He will always remain a true hero of cult.