Friday 10 April 2015

Corrie's Carry On Connections

Although I love all things Carry On, one of my other blogging passions in life is Coronation Street. For the past two and a half years I have been a regular contributor to the fantastic Coronation Street Blog, simply the best place to go on the internet for Corrie news and original comment.

So in honour of my links with Corrie, I thought I would cobble together (do you see what I did there?!) a blog on Coronation Street's Carry On links. When I started thinking about actors who had appeared in both long-running British institutions there were a few who immediately came to mind, so we'll start with them.

One of the most famous and popular of them all must be the gorgeous Amanda Barrie. Amanda, best known for playing Cafe owner and all round good egg Alma Sedgewick on and off for twenty years also starred in two Carry Ons in the early 1960s. She first of all appeared as Glam Cab driver Anthea in Cabby and then returned in 1964 to play Cleopatra in the classic Carry On Cleo. Amanda's Corrie character has always been one of my favourites and I love her link to the Carry Ons too.

For most of her time in Corrie, Amanda was partnered with another actor who appeared in several Carry Ons. Johnny Briggs, who played cockney wide boy, factory boss and general love rat Mike Baldwin for 30 years, had a long career in British film and telly before he even arrived in Weatherfield. He took three small roles in Carry On films, starting with "Sporran Soldier' (!) in the classic Carry On Up The Khyber in 1968. He then returned for further cameos in Carry On Behind (1975) playing a painter and again in Carry On England the following year playing Captain Melly's driver. Briggs also cropped up in the film version of Bless This House in 1972, which came from the Rogers and Thomas stable and featured several Carry On actors.

The lovely Sherrie Hewson, now starring in Benidorm on ITV began her career with the Carry On films. The actress, who played Maureen Naylor (Holdsworth) in Corrie for four years in the 1990s, played Carol opposite Carol Hawkins' Sandra in Carry On Behind. Sherrie also appeared in several episodes of Carry On Laughing, a less successful attempt to take the Carry On films into television in 1975.

Those were the three actors who immediately came to mind, but the more I thought about it the more links sprang up. Bernard Cribbins, a wonderful star in many classic British films and television, played Blanche Hunt's boyfriend Wally Bannister in Corrie back in 2003. Bernard was also a star of three Carry On films, Jack in 1963, Spying (opposite Barbara Windsor) in 1964 and then the truly dreadful Columbus in 1992. Another Carry On actor who appeared in a Corrie cameo was comedy legend June Whitfield. June appeared in a few episodes back in 2010 when her character arrived in Weatherfield to tell the Barlow family that Blanche had passed away. This storyline was created to pay tribute to actress Maggie Jones who had sadly died the year before. June famously appeared in four Carry Ons, Nurse, Abroad, Girls (as the gloriously named Augusta Prodworthy) and finally Columbus.

Going back further into the mists of time, the wonderful actor Kenneth Cope, probably most famous for is role in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), played Jed Stone in Coronation Street for several years in the 1960s, returning for a short stint in 2008. Kenneth was smashing in two Carry On films made in the early 1970s - At Your Convenience as union rep Vic Spanner and then later that year as Cyril Carter in Carry On Matron. Also from this period in Corrie history, but sadly an appearance I've never seen, popular Carry On leading lady Angela Douglas is said to have appeared in Corrie for just one episode as a stripper romantically involved with Dennis Tanner. If anyone can verify this I'd be grateful!

I adored Betty Driver who played barmaid Betty Turpin in Corrie for over forty years. Did you know that Bill Kenwright, who played her on-screen son Gordon Clegg, also cropped up in a Carry On film? Kenwright, now more well known for being Chairman of Everton football club and a highly successful theatre impresario, played a newspaper reporter in Carry On Matron. This appearance would have come after his original stint in Corrie. 

Now we are starting to stretch the links a bit, but did you know that infamous Corrie killer Richard Hillman has a Carry On connection? Although never appearing in a Carry On film, actor Brian Capron appeared in the minor role of a Trumpeter in two episodes of Carry On Laughing, broadcast in 1975. Apparently actress Rosalind Knight, who played Nurse Nightingale in Carry On Nurse and Felicity Wheeler in Teacher has also appeared in Corrie in the early 1980s, but again I've not seen this performance.

Finally, who can forget Maureen Lipman playing temporary Rovers Return landlady in 2002? Maureen was cast after Julie Goodyear's much heralded return hit some problems. Maureen of course, appeared in the dire Carry On Columbus in 1992. A tenuous link to Carry On, but a link nonetheless!

One final Carry On Corrie link of sorts. On reading Liz Fraser's excellent autobiography a couple of years back, I was interested to hear that she had been offered a part in Coronation Street back in the 1970s. Now I have no idea how far this went or what part could have been offered to her but wouldn't it have been interesting to see the former Carry On star appear in Weatherfield?

So there you go, a few interesting links between two of my all time favourite British institutions. I'm bound to have missed some out, so if you can think of any do get in touch!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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