Monday 22 February would have been Kenneth Williams' 90th birthday. You will all know by now that Kenneth is one of my all time favourite comedy performers. I have adored him since I was a child and he always makes me laugh, no matter how often I have seen his role in a particular film, radio show or chat show appearance. While there is always a certain sadness identified when Kenneth is discussed, mainly due to his revelatory diaries and the manner of his passing, he brought so much joy, fun and laughter to so many people during his life time and in the years since his death.
The recent announcement that the British Library had taken possession of his infamous diaries seems all the more fitting in this, his 90th year. There is regret that he is not still with us, entertaining us as only he could, but we fortunately have a wealth of archive clips, radio recordings and film appearances to remind us of his unique and memorable talents. Nobody could tell a story like Kenneth Williams. Nobody could flare their nostrils like our Ken and nobody could ever master that glorious vocal swoop from posh landed gentry to common East End scallywag like our much-missed Ken.
In the week of his 90th birthday I will be posting a wide range of blogs on Kenneth. Some are old, some are brand new. They all seem fitting tributes to the great man. I have also decided, as with June Whitfield's 90th birthday back in November, to run a poll on Carry On Blogging asking readers to pick their favourite of Kenneth's many performances. I have limited the poll solely to Kenneth's Carry On roles although as there as 26 of them there are still a myriad of choices! I will keep the poll open until the 20 February so there is plenty of time for you to cast your votes.
It may be an impossible choice for you though with so many classic roles to choose from. There's his definitive Khasi in Carry On Up The Khyber, not to mention his Citizen Camembert in Don't Lose Your Head and his memorable take on Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo. Or perhaps you preferred his modern day roles? Maybe you enjoyed his turn as Dr Soaper in Camping or his clash with Professor Vooshka in Carry On Behind.
Kenneth also created some wonderful characters in the medical Carry Ons. From the disgruntled patient Oliver Reckitt in Nurse and Dr Tinkle in Doctor to Frederick Carver in Again Doctor and finally Sir Bernard Cutting in Carry On Matron. We must also remember his earlier roles in those charming black and white Carry Ons – he turns in some terrific acting performances in the likes of Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher and Constable.
Kenneth worked well with so many of the Carry On team. He was at his best when at loggerheads with his complete opposite, Sidney James. He bickered and flounced with aplomb in many, many films with Joan Sims. He displayed wonderful comic timing alongside Fenella Fielding in Carry On Screaming and both he and Peter Butterworth always brought out the best in one another.
The rules are quite simple: You can vote as many times as you want and for up to four characters each time. Voting will close on Saturday 20 February with the results announced on Kenneth's birthday.