Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Whatever Happened To ... Harry Locke?
Every so often I like to look back at one of the lives and careers of a recognisable Carry On supporting actor and bring them back into the limelight. This has proved a very popular series of blogs as it moves the attention away from the regular team onto some of the less well-known, yet still vitally important supporting players.
Today I am going to write about a sterling British character actor who graced countless films and three of the classic medical Carry Ons - Harry Locke.
Harry first appeared very early on in the series, in the second film to be exact - Carry On Nurse. Harry plays Mick the orderly who pops in and out of the action throughout the film, making this his biggest supporting turn in the films. Most of his interactions are with guest star Wilfred Hyde-White, playing the wily old Colonel and Joan Sims as the wet behind the ears student nurse, Stella Dawson. Harry brings a great deal of down to earth charm to the part and is very believable. I love his scenes with Joan, they bickered very well together!
It would then be nearly ten years before Harry would return to the Carry On set at Pinewood, but it was for another medical classic. Harry's reappearance in Carry On Doctor in 1967 brings some delightful continuity with the previous medical film. This time he plays one of the hospital's ambulance drivers, team up with another regular face in Peter Gilmore. Again they work well together and get involved with the action throughout, first seen delivering Frankie Howerd to the hospital in a very bumpy, uncomfortable fashion!
Harry's third and final Carry On appearance came two years after this, in Carry On Again Doctor in 1969. Sadly Harry only has a handful of scenes in this film but once again it's great to see a familiar face dating back to Nurse over ten years earlier. This time, credited as just Porter, Harry shares scenes with series regulars Jim Dale, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams. Sadly this was his final film in the series as for some reason the producers didn't continue the theme and bring him back for the last medical Carry On, Matron in 1971. So what else did Harry Locke get up to in his acting career?
Harry Locke spent decades in the British film industry, usually playing a range of working class characters such as taxi drivers, clerks and porters. He was never a star but worked continuously in small parts, sometimes (particularly in the early years) going uncredited. Some of the most famous films he appeared in include the Ealing comedy Passport To Pimlico (1949), the classic Douglas Bader biopic Reach For The Sky (1956), Alfie (1966) and The Family Way (1966).
Equally adept at comedy and drama, Harry would appear in many classic comedy titles from the 1950s and 1960s. These included films such as Doctor in the House (1954), Doctor At Large (1957), On The Fiddle and In The Doghouse (both 1961), Crooks Anonymous (1962) and the Norman Wisdom vehicle The Early Bird (1965). Harry's earliest film appearance had been an uncredited role in the 1942 film The Avengers, which co-starred Deborah Kerr.
On television Harry appeared in a wide range of productions. These included Dick and The Duchess with Richard Wattis in 1957, the adventure series Fair Game in 1958, an episode of Hancock's Half Hour in 1959, Armchair Theatre in 1963, a range of characters in both Dixon of Dock Green and No Hiding Place, Sykes in 1964, Sam and Janet (with Joan Sims) in 1967, War and Peace and Crown Court (both in 1973) and his final credited appearance, playing the gardener in Just William in 1977.
Harry Locke was a confirmed Londoner. Born in the capital in 1913, he began working in repertory theatre from the age of 16. During the Second World War he served in the Army Intelligence Corps. As a complete contrast to this wartime experience, Locke forged a successful post-war career as a stand up comedian before moving into acting work on screen. Harry Locke passed away in London on 7 September 1987, ten years after his last acting credit, at the age of 73.