Thursday, 13 December 2018

Bernie Carries On … as Sir Roger Daley!


Over the past year I have written a series of blogs covering each of the roles of some of our favourite Carry On stars. I began my looking back at each film role played by the three leading ladies in the series - Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor - and most recently I've written about all of Kenneth Connor's Carry On performances in the run up to the great man's centenary. 

Today I am continuing a new strand of this series by turning the spotlight on that gentle giant of British comedy, the late Bernard Bresslaw. Probably one of the most under-rated actors in the main team, Bernard was a part of the series for ten years and fourteen films, tackling a superb range of crumbling villains and delightfully dimwitted foils to the likes of Sid James and Kenneth Cope. Bernard enjoyed a long career away from the Carry Ons and spent much of his later life wowing audiences in legitimate theatre. However he will forever to remembered for his clutch of hilarious Carry On supporting turns. 

Bernard joined the Carry On team in the mid 1960s and along with Peter Butterworth was the last main team member to join the gang. Along with Butterworth, Bernard played a series of smaller, supporting roles to begin with before graduating to major roles towards the end of the decade. Bernard fitted in effortlessly with the rest of the team and he's the kind of actor who is working hard but making it look oh so easy. A quiet, erudite, thoughtful family man away from the film studios, I often think Bresslaw has never received the credit he's due as like Connor and Butterworth, he didn't ever seek the limelight or splash his life over the front pages.

So today, we'll continue this new series looking at Bernard's role as Sir Roger Daley (!) in the 1974 historical adventure, Carry On Dick.


Carry On Dick has never been one of my favourites in the series. As a later effort though and one of the last historical films it works fairly well however compared to earlier entries like Don't Lose Your Head and Up The Khyber, Dick is very static and studio-based and some of the cast are starting to show their age. Despite this, the film captures the seedy atmosphere of the times very well and all the scenes set in the Old Cock Inn are brilliant to watch. Dick also provides fans with the last opportunity to see several favourites in a Carry On film. The cast is bursting with team members as all current actors in the gang appear. As well as Hattie, this film is also the farewell for both Sid James and Barbara Windsor. Sid and Barbara would appear in several episodes of the ATV Carry On Laughing series broadcast the follow year (even Hattie would make an appearance) however this would be the last original feature film for all three stalwarts. Also, prolific writer Talbot Rothwell retired from the films after Dick, his health having deteriorated further. Future films in the series would really suffer without his talents.

Carry On Dick tells the well-worn story of highway man Dick Turpin and who else could play Dick but Sidney James. The film follows his gang as they rob the rich and constantly evade capture by Captain Desmond Fancey and Sergeant Jock Strapp (Kenneth Williams and Jack Douglas). Sid's last role in the series is a great one. Dick Turpin is Sid at his twinkly, naughtiest best while the film also provides him with the dual role of the Rev Flasher (!) Dick's cover story as the sedate, understated local vicar. The rest of his gang comprise Peter  Butterworth as Tom and Barbara Windsor as Harriet. Sid and Barbara have terrific chemistry throughout and go as near the knuckle as they could possibly go! 




Dick is in many ways a sequel to the French Revolution romp, Don't Lose Your Head, almost eight years earlier. In that film Sid also had a dual role as both Sid Rodney Ffing and the Black Fingernail. It allows Sid the actor to really work and show some subtlety in performance (Yes that was possible even in a Carry On). It's a great role for him to go out on even though nobody knew it at the time. He was due to appear in Carry On Behind, however touring commitments in the theatre meant the role written for him eventually went to Windsor Davies. 

So anyway, back to Bernard's role in the film. Rising up the cast lists as other veterans take time out or sadly don't come back, Bernard enjoys a fairly large supporting turn in Dick. As the chief law enforcer and fierce-some leader of the Bow Street Runners, it's a towering performance in every sense of the word. Bernard's Sir Roger is not really like any other role he plays in the series and that can surely only be a good thing, as far as the actor is concerned. He's not his usual simple, bumbling accomplice to Sid James and neither is he on full historical villain mode like his parts in Khyber or Follow That Camel. He's an authoritarian who has little time for the antics of Kenneth Williams or Jack Douglas, preferring to spend his time with a bevy of young lovelies. 



Although I'm not mad on the film, I do love the trio of Williams, Douglas and Bresslaw. It's a great triumvirate of comedy, with Douglas as the bumbling Jock Strap, constantly letting down Kenneth's haughty Captain Desmond Fancey, who in turn is constantly deferential and cow towing whenever his superior Sir Roger appears on the scene. The class system in action perhaps? Although seen through a typically bawdy Carry On lens. Poor Bernard loses his clothes at least twice during the film as his stagecoach is repeatedly held up at gun point by Big Dick and his gang. Leaving little to the imagination, Bresslaw is obviously game and as a cheeky behind the scenes snap reveals, the crew weren't afraid of playing a trick on the actors! 

Bernard is paired with the fragrant Margaret Nolan in Dick. Playing Lady Daley, Maggie is more prim and proper than usual and her supporting turn is rather understated when compared to other parts such as her previous role as Dawn Brakes in Carry On girls. Sadly, this would be her last Carry On performance. Much fruitier is Bernard's pairing with none other than Joan Sims. Joan is on fine form as the bogus French Madame Desiree, touring dubious hostelries with her 'Birds of Paradise'. Slipping into her common Cockney, Joan is at her vulgar best and makes for a memorable double act with Bernard once he's despatched his wife back to London!



Bernard spends most of the film stomping about with suitable authority, he may not get the majority of the belly laughs, but it's still a fine performance. In a cast which does still burst with Carry On talent, Bernard stands head and shoulders above them all. Literally. The majority of the action goes to Sid, Barbara, Kenneth Williams and Jack Douglas. This leaves little for Joan, Peter Butterworth, Hattie Jacques or Kenneth Connor to do but Bernie fairs ok. He was perhaps finally stepping into the Carry On leading man role vacated by Jim Dale five years earlier.

Sadly, Dick was the beginning of the end for the franchise, with so many key contributors bidding farewell, even if they weren't aware of it at the time. Bernard would return for one final film adventure with the gang and plenty more besides. With Carry On London still playing twice nightly at the Victoria Palace well into the following year and Bernard appearing in several of the ATV Carry On Laughing episodes on telly, 1975 may have been Bernard's final year of Carrying On, but it was also his most prolific.



Stay tuned for the final blog in this series coming up soon. I'll be looking at Bernard's fourteenth and final role, as henpecked Arthur Upmore in Carry On Behind. 


You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Carry On Blogging Festive Advent: 13 December


And so, once again December is upon us. I'll be bringing you a daily dose of festive Carry On cheer each day on the lead up to the 25th. 

So every day I will bring you another cracking Carry On photo with a festive theme. They will probably all be rather naughty, but hopefully all quite nice. 

Today we have a bright and colourful photo of two Carry On leading ladies in their festive prime! I'm not quite sure what they are up to, but it's definitely Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor and I'm pretty sure it's from the 1972 Carry On Christmas (Carry On Stuffing) telly special! 


What a Carry On at Christmas! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Carry On Blogging Festive Advent: 12 December


And so, once again December is upon us. I'll be bringing you a daily dose of festive Carry On cheer each day on the lead up to the 25th. 

So every day I will bring you another cracking Carry On photo with a festive theme. They will probably all be rather naughty, but hopefully all quite nice. 

Today we have a festive snap of two Carry On veterans in the roles they became best known for. Johnny Briggs and Amanda Barrie as Mike and Alma in a Corrie Christmas promo shot from the early 1990s. From watching repeats from that era on ITV3 of late, the festive season was rarely that jolly for either of them. Amanda had starred in Carry On Cabby and Cleo back in the 1960s before stepping onto the cobbles of Weatherfield, while Johnny made three small appearances in the Carry Ons - Up The Khyber, then Behind and England just before he joined Coronation Street in 1976.


What a Carry On at Christmas! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Carry On Reading: Great Carry On Books for Christmas!

It's Christmas shopping time once again so I thought I would bring you some of my favourite Carry On comedy related stocking fillers. I'll have more on this tomorrow with some of my favourite Carry On art but today I thought I'd start off with some brilliant books I've featured on the blog over the past year or so. I recommend them all to you for the classic comedy fan in your life:


Fenella Fielding: Do You Mind if I Smoke?

Sadly we lost the wonderful Fenella Fielding earlier this year, but thankfully we have her brilliant memoirs to help remember her by. In these pages you will fall in love with the real Fenella, whose genuine innocence in her early days in often seedy and dangerous post-war London was her best protection. You’ll learn how she crafted the career she longed for in the face of determined and sometimes cruel opposition from her parents. How she went up the ladders of fame and down the snakes of self-doubt and despair. How she learned to live with, like and sometimes loathe the famous actors, impresarios, conmen and characters of the day.

So famous in the 1960s that she was chosen by Littlewoods to hand over a cheque for a third of a million pounds to a Pools winner, by the 1970s she had one of her own cheques returned and realised she was broke.

The story nearly ended there, but talent and sheer guts pulled her though the dark times and out into the light of new-found success. In 2017 she turned 90. The star known as the 'England’s First Lady of the Double Entendre' was still seducing audiences with that unforgettable voice, her perfect timing and wicked humour never better.

The memoirs very carefully kept the authenticity of Fenella's voice throughout and even though this is the print version, Fenella's voice comes over as beautifully resonate and utterly unique as it ever did.

You can find out more and order a copy here


Bernard Cribbins: Bernard Who? 75 Years of Doing Just About Everything!




The legend that is Bernard Cribbins has written his life story and it's out now. Bernard, who will rather astonishingly turn 90 this December, has told the story of his life and 75 year acting career, working with writer James Hogg. As soon as I heard about this new book yesterday, I downloaded it to my Kindle and I'm already three chapters in. Bernard's is a fascinating tale and definitely worth a read.

Bernard Cribbins is currently celebrating his seventy-fifth year in showbusiness, having first joined Oldham Repertory Company as a full-time actor way back in 1943. Working a seventy-hour week, he was paid just fifteen bob for his services then, all of which went straight to his mother.

After serving as a paratrooper during National Service – and getting shot at several times in Palestine – Bernard returned to the theatre where he was eventually spotted by George Martin, then A&R man for Parlophone Records. Just months away from producing The Beatles, Martin thought that Bernard might have a future in the recording industry and after hooking him up with a couple of writers he became a pop star. His two hit singles ‘The Hole in the Ground’ – which reached no. 1 – and ‘Right Said Fred’ – reaching no. 10 – catapulted Bernard to stardom and after appearing in three Peter Sellers classics, Two Way StretchThe Wrong Arm of the Law and Crooks in Cloisters, he took starring roles in two Carry On films, Carry on Jack and Carry on Spying.


By the time he appeared in The Railway Children in 1970 Bernard was already bordering on being a national treasure. This was all but confirmed just a few years later when, as well as becoming Jackanory’s longest serving storyteller, he also delighted millions by bringing The Wombles to life. Since then, Bernard’s CV has become an A-Z of the best entertainment that Britain has to offer, and he has undoubtedly become one of our best-loved actors.


Jam packed with anecdotes, Bernard Who? is a book that is almost ninety years in the making and divulges the full story behind one of the longest and most celebrated careers in show business. 




Bernard Who? 75 Years of Doing Just About Everything, the memoir of Bernard Cribbins is out now in hardback and ebook, published by Piatkus, Constable and Robinson – a division of Little, Brown Book Group.



Josephine: An Open Book




Award-winning independent publisher Candy Jar Books is delighted to announce the upcoming publication of the debut novel by Carry On actress, Angela Douglas.

Josephine: An Open Book is a powerful and compelling story of a young woman’s journey to stardom and the trials and tribulations of showbusiness and celebrity. Set against the backdrop of London’s 1960s, her paths cross with the likes of Kirk Douglas, Steve McQueen Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Neil Armstrong.

Though a work of fiction, the novel draws extensively on Angela Douglas’ own experiences, weaving a story which is at its very heart, universal in its themes: love, loss, the breakdown of a marriage and the decline of health. Josephine is ultimately an uplifting memoir of determination and conviction in the face of adversity, and is sure to resonate with the reader. 

Josephine is Angela’s first work of fiction, having already worked as a journalist and author, writing two non-fiction titles, including her autobiography Swings and Roundabouts, which received great praise from audience and critics alike.

As Angela put it herself, Josephine’s life is set in a world she knows well:

“I have described Josephine as ‘made up truth’. Many of the characters with whom Josephine meets are famous names because they are lifted from real-life experiences of my own. Josephine and I share many things, but there are also many differences... She is very much her own woman, and she finds herself in a lot of scrapes and circumstances, which I luckily did not. Josephine is an ambitious, fiercely independent bundle of energy who never settles for less than she deserves. As her father says: “when she was little she tried to ride the rainbow. Her ambition was up high....her reality was at times down there.”

What parts of Josephine’s life are based on truth and what are a work of fiction? That’s what you’ll have to determine for yourself…”
  
Find out more about Candy Jar, and order your copy of Angela's novel here: www.candyjarbooks.co.uk



Whatever you choose, happy reading! 

 You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Carry On Blogging Festive Advent: 11 December



And so, once again December is upon us. I'll be bringing you a daily dose of festive Carry On cheer each day on the lead up to the 25th. 

So every day I will bring you another cracking Carry On photo with a festive theme. They will probably all be rather naughty, but hopefully all quite nice. 

And here we have a memorable little scene from the final Carry On Christmas special from 1973. Sid James as a randy old department store Santa, visited by a rather advanced school girl and her henpecked mother. Of course the school girl is Barbara Windsor and the mother Joan Sims! It's one of those scenes that took the series nearer the knuckle and no doubt would never be shown these days but you can't help but chuckle! 


What a Carry On at Christmas! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Monday, 10 December 2018

Carry On Blogging Festive Advent: 10 December

 

And so, once again December is upon us. I'll be bringing you a daily dose of festive Carry On cheer each day on the lead up to the 25th. 

So every day I will bring you another cracking Carry On photo with a festive theme. They will probably all be rather naughty, but hopefully all quite nice. 

Today, I bring you the glorious Hattie Jacques on the finest of fine forms in the 1969 Carry On Christmas television special for Thames. In amongst the myriad of scenes and sketches this wonderful all colour festive treat brought us, was Hattie dressed as a Mother Superior trying to shepherd her carol singing school girls. When I say school girls, I mean Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey and Terry Scott! How she kept a straight face I'll never know...

What a Carry On at Christmas! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram


Sunday, 9 December 2018

Carry On Vlogging: Carry On Film Talk with Rabbit and Snail


When our friends at Carry On Blogging got in touch and asked if we would consider writing a guest blog for them, we jumped at the chance. We were about to launch our new weekly classic film review magazine on YouTube, FILM TALK and immediately decided to record a special Carry On edition, which also includes a WORLD EXCLUSIVE from Hammer Films' star, Judy Matheson:




With so many friends and colleagues with a huge passion for great films and filmmaking an obvious project for us was to establish FILM TALK, a weekly online classic film review magazine that is exploring and appreciating the 100 greatest films ever made, at least the greatest films in our opinion. The team is made up of film professionals, journalists, broadcasters and historians, all lifelong film fanatics, who, in each episode, bring their vast film knowledge to bear on our chosen movie of the week.




Our regular contributors include author, journalist and broadcaster Morris Bright MBE, The Hammer Runners, Phil Campbell and Brian Reynolds, who have worked in the industry since the late 1960s and film guru, historian and collector, Mark Priest, whose passion for the cinema knows no bounds.




FILM TALK launched on Monday 10th December 2018 and to coincide with that launch we asked all of our FILM TALK team to record a short clip about their favourite Carry On films, which we have compiled into a special edition, CARRY ON FILM TALK.




Up first is Morris Bright, author, journalist and broadcaster. What Morris doesn't know about films could fill a volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. What he DOES know about films could fill 100 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. We chatted about many of his favourites and the impression the franchise had on him and, after much consideration, he chose Carry On Cleo as his favourite.




Phil Campbell is one half of the wonderful Hammer Runners, who, along with Brian Reynolds, wrote Running Scared, their account of life as runners at Hammer Films in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Again, it was a difficult choice. Phil and I talked about so many films and found ourselves just laughing endlessly as we reminisced about classic scenes. Eventually Phil concluded that it had to be Carry On Up the Khyber. There's nothing to be afraid of with that choice; 'oh, I dunno though.'




My good friend, film fanatic and collector, Mark Priest recalled seeing so many of the Carry On films at the cinema, including classic double-bills. Again it was hard to whittle the list down to just five before choosing a favourite. Mark went for Carry On Doctor, what with Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Sid James, Jim Dale, and of course Franke Howerd, how could you go wrong?




We were so lucky with CARRY ON FILM TALK, because we also were recording an interview with the marvellous Judy Matheson for our Peter Cushing documentary at the same time and she kindly agreed to record a short piece about her favourite Carry On. We were particularly lucky because Judy announced that she had a personal Carry On story to share with us, which she had not shared with anyone else before. A world exclusive in anyone's book!


Way up near the top of her list was also Carry On Up the Khyber, a wonderful choice in its own right. Eventually though, Judy went for Carry On Screaming, not just because of her Hammer Films heritage, but because it starred her great friend, the amazing actress Fenella Fielding.




The very first regular episode of FILM TALK introduced Billy Wilder's amazing comedy, Some Like It Hot to our top 100 list. This absolute classic starred the incomparable Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. Witnesses to a vicious St Valentine’s Day gangster massacre, musicians Curtis and Lemmon take-off and hide out as saxophonist and bass player in an all-girl jazz band. Championed by Morris Bright.




Each week we add another title to our list of the 100 greatest films ever made (in our humble opinion). You can find each episode on the RABBIT & SNAIL FILM WEBSITE or take a look at our YOU TUBE CHANNEL. Do visit us when you have a chance, watch some of our videos, and if you like what you see, please do subscribe to be notified when we release more.

A huge thank you to Graeme and Carry On Blogging for asking us to be a part of the blog, it's a privilege and an honour. Thank you.

Best wishes all,


Richard Edwards, RABBIT & SNAIL FILMS

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram