Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A tribute to Norman Hudis

I first published this blog a couple of months ago but in light of yesterday's news, it seems a fitting tribute to the late, great Norman Hudis. Us Carry On fans owe him a great deal of thanks.

The whole idea of this new series of blogs is to flag up specific individuals who, in my humble opinion, really made the Carry On films what they were. So many of the actors and crew turned up at Pinewood again and again, working closely over the years to produce such a fine body of work. This week it's the turn of the man who wrote the original six Carry Ons - Norman Hudis.

Sometimes Norman's contribution to the Carry On films can be overlooked. After all, he ended his association with the series after Carry On Cruising in 1962. Hudis then moved to America and wrote very successfully for many major television series. Also, Talbot Rothwell came on board and went on to write the next twenty films, many of which are now seen as absolute classics of their kind.

However, I've always had a real soft spot for the very early, black and white Carry On films. I like their innocence and they have a certain charm some of the later films lack. They are also written with real heart, always managing tender, sentimental moments which worked well against the backdrop of knockabout comedy. I also enjoyed the way Norman structured those films, often with a figure of authority at the centre of all the action, whether it be William Hartnell, Hattie Jacques, Ted Ray or Sid James.

Carry On Nurse will always be one of my favourite Carry Ons. I love the community feel to the film, it's very shared despite the big cast. It also started the trend for medical Carry Ons which proved very fruitful over the years. Carry On Teacher is another classic, bringing the likes of Joan Sims, Leslie Phillips and Kenneth Connor to the fore. I also love Carry On Regardless - was there ever such a large cast of famous British comedy character actors together in one film?

Norman's final Carry On, Cruising is also superb. It may lack a full roster of familiar Carry On faces, but it is bright, colourful and optimistic without relying too heavily on the innuendos and flashes of flesh which would follow before the decade was even out. Norman also wrote several other films for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas, including Please Turn Over, Nurse On Wheels and Twice Round The Daffodils. In 1960 he wrote the television comedy series Our House which featured several Carry On faces in the cast, namely Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw. 

Norman was still active and contributing to television tribute shows until very recently. We saw him in the first episode of Carry On Forever earlier in the year. He published his autobiography, No Laughing Matter: How I Carried On back in 2007.

Norman Hudis' contribution to the Carry On phenomenon is immense. Without his blueprint for the perfect Carry On script, there is no doubt the series would not have been as successful as it became. Thanks for everything, Norman.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

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