Friday, 23 October 2015

June Whitfield at 90: Augusta Prodworthy in Carry On Girls

As you may be aware, I've launched a poll on Carry On Blogging to find out what we all think is June Whitfield's most memorable role. In a career spanning eight decades, that's no mean feat! This is all happening as we prepare to celebrate June's 90th birthday on 11 November.

As we approach the big day, I will be blogging my thoughts on each of the roles featured in my poll. Today, I'm starting off with a real favourite of mine: Augusta Prodworthy in Carry On Girls.

Even the name makes me laugh, it's just glorious. Girls is one of my least favourite films in the Carry On series, however June's performance as the town councillor and fierce feminist Augusta is one of the few highlights. It's a joyous characterisation that pits June against the mighty Sid James. While Sid Fiddler might have the last laugh as he speeds out of town on the back of Barbara Windsor's motorbike, our Augusta sure gives him a run for his money.

Augusta is up in arms about Sid's plans to liven up the dull seaside resort of Fircombe with a beauty contest featuring the likes of Hope Springs (Barbara Windsor), Dawn Brakes (Margaret Nolan) and Ida Downs (Wendy Richard). While Augusta and her partner in crime Rosemary (Patricia Franklin) attempt to derail Sid's plans at every opportunity, local Mayor Frederick Bumble (Kenneth Connor) finds himself caught in the middle. June and Kenneth Connor play wonderfully together in the film, as always.

June very much plays against type in Girls. She's very dogmatic and forceful with some wonderful lines. She's the Carry On version of Mary Whitehouse and I just love it. Ultimately, Augusta's band of ladies disrupt Sid's contest and it all ends in a rather messy, slapstick finale. While Carry On writer Talbot Rothwell is very obviously not a fan of Augusta and her world, he still manages to create a memorable character for June to play. I only wish June had made more films in the series.

My favourite scene featuring June has to be the bra burning with the glorious Patsy Rowlands. Patsy, playing Bumble's wife Mildred, goes behind his back and signs up with the  Women's Lib. The subsequent bra burning sequence is hilarious and features one of my favourite lines: "Rosemary! Get the candle!" Brilliant stuff!

So, if June's turn as Augusta Prodworthy is your favourite, why not vote for it in my poll? You can vote here

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