Monday, 31 October 2016

The History Usherette Presents: The Beginner's Guide to British Cinema


The History Usherette has a new book out, which consolidates her musings on British Social History as seen through contemporary cinema. The Usherette’s blog has been going for a few years now, and has looked at over 100 films dating between the 1930s and the 1970s. Each blog post looks at what that particular film can tell us about what life was like at the time.

The book brings all of these thoughts together in one place. It might be handy for the history student who would like to use film as a historical resource – or it could just take those of us of a certain age on a trip down memory lane.

Of course the Carry On films get a mention!  Here’s an extract:

The best known British cinematic series is of course the ‘Carry On’ films.  Over twenty films had this prefix between 1958 and 1978.  Although several of these used a medical theme in the style of the ‘Doctor’ films, they sent up many aspects of contemporary British life and culture. A ‘Carry On’ team of actors was developed, guaranteeing familiar faces.  As evidenced by Charles Hawtrey in the previous chapter, these actors often played similar characters from film to film. Sid James became typecast as the gambling philanderer, and Hattie Jacques will always be the person that you think of when anyone mentions a hospital Matron.

It is possible to track British social change through the ‘Carry On’ films. In my book ‘Matinee Musings’ I dedicate one of my essays to an overview of how the development of the NHS is shown by those films set in a hospital – from ‘Carry on Nurse’ to ‘Carry on Matron’.  A look at the series as a whole also shows how society – and British film making changed over those two decades.   The first film in the series was ‘Carry on Sergeant’ (1958), a tale of men doing National Service in a country still living in the shadow of World War Two. It was a land of conscription, of respect for uniform and rank and a social hierarchy.  The final Carry On Film of the 1970s (there was a temporary revival in the 1990s) was bawdy and lewd in a desperate attempt to lure people into the cinema.  ‘Carry on Emmanuelle’ (1978) is a sad finale indeed. 

There are illustrations by Howard Taylor of some of the stars of the day.
To download or order a print copy, please visit Amazon:

You can find out more about The History Usherette here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Two Signed Photos of Anita Harris to be won!


It's time for the first ever Carry On Blogging competition! If you are a fan of the lovely Anita Harris, this will be right up your street. I'm giving you the chance to win one of two signed photos of the gorgeous Ms Harris!

The multi-talented Anita Harris has been a familiar face to audiences for decades. A hugely successful singer and star of musical theatre, Anita also starred in two classic Carry On films in the 1960s - Carry On Follow That Camel and Carry On Doctor. I have been lucky enough to meet Anita at the London Film Convention held last year and she was absolutely lovely - really friendly and welcoming. 

Anita has agreed to sign two lovely photos of herself for some lucky Carry On Blogging readers. All you have to do is answer the following two very easy questions:

1) What was the name of Anita's character in the 1967 film Follow That Camel?

2) Which actor played Anita's love interest in Carry On Doctor? Was it:
- Jim Dale
- Bernard Bresslaw
- Frankie Howerd 

For a chance of winning a signed photo, please email your answers to: or send in your answers using the Contact Form on the blog.

You must get your answers to me by Sunday 6 November at 5pm. 


The two winners will be picked at random. If you are successful, I will ask for your name and address so the photos can be posted to you. And a big thank you to both Anita and Peter Gill for helping to make this happen!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Carry On Blogging Interview: Anita Harris

I recently had the great pleasure to catch up with that lovely lady and all round acting and singing star, Anita Harris. Anita, still busy in the profession today, took some time out to answer my questions about her time with the Carry On team in the 1960s. So Carry On Reading to find out more...

I loved your performance as Cork Tip in Carry On Follow That Camel. How did you prepare to play that character?
I did 6 weeks of belly dance training!

What was it like to make films at the legendary Pinewood Studios? Do you have particular memories of this experience?
Absolutely magical - to be at the home of Bond and so many other great British productions. The atmosphere was fabulous!

You worked quite closely with Jim Dale in both your Carry Ons. I thought you had great chemistry - did you enjoy working with him?
I loved working with him, he was a true pro and a delight.

My own favourite member of the Carry On team was Joan Sims. What was it like to work with her?
Working with Joan and Barbara was like having sisters in the camp.


They made Carry On films for a further ten years following your last film with the team. Would you have liked to have made more Carry On movies?
Very much so, I loved being a part of the team.

It was great to see you participate in the 2015 documentary, Carry On Forever. Was that an enjoyable experience?
It was remarkable to go back to Camber Sands and taste the memories.

Possibly a bit cheeky, but who was your own favourite member of the Carry On team?
The camel who didn't like sand! Seriously, to this day I feel proud to have been a part of that unique family - so many were favourites.


I believe you worked with Frankie Howerd away from the Carry Ons, what was he like to work with? 
He was a strong influence and it's thanks to working with him in 'Way Out in Piccadilly' at The Prince of Wales Theatre that I got invited to be a part of the Carry On team. One night Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas came to the show to see him, and then asked me if I wanted to be in their next film. What could I say?

You obviously still enjoy working in front of a live audience. Can you tell me more about your touring commitments these days?
I am just finishing a tour with the play Rehearsal for Murder, then will go straight into panto. Next year I shall again be touring my own show and also making guest appearances with a range of other theatre shows.


You appeared in pantomime at Portsmouth last Christmas, which I wrote about in my blog - Will we see you in panto again this year?
Absolutely - in Cinderella at The Princess Theatre, Torquay as The Baroness.

Are there any plans to write your autobiography?
Very much so, I am currently working on it whenever I have some free time.

I'd like to thank Anita for taking time out for this Carry On Blogging interview and also thanks to Peter Gill for helping to arrange it. You can find out more about what Anita is up to these days, including her touring schedule, on her website

And stay tuned for an exclusive Carry On Blogging Anita Harris competition coming up later!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Happy Birthday Hugh Futcher!


Today seems to be quite a day for Carry On birthdays! Following hot on the heels of Angela Douglas and Margaret Nolan is the actor Hugh Futcher, who turns 79 today. Hugh has had a long career as an actor, still popping up regularly on our screens today.

Hugh made his first appearance in the series in Carry On Spying in 1964, playing the memorable "bed of nails native" in a small scene opposite Bernard Cribbins. Further roles followed included playing a guard in Don't Lose Your Head in 1966 and a Taxi Driver in Again Doctor in 1969. Hugh probably had his biggest role in the series in 1971's Carry On At Your Convenience, playing factory worker Ernie alongside Geoffrey Hughes.


Four more roles followed in Peter Rogers productions. He played a Car Owner in Bless This House, a Jailer alongside Alan Curtis in Carry On Abroad, a citizen in Carry On Girls and finally, in 1975, a painter in Major Leap's new clubhouse in Carry On Behind. Away from the Carry Ons, Hugh has appeared in films such as Repulsion, Rattle of a Simple Man, Anne of a Thousand Days and Quatermass and the Pit.

On television, Hugh has appeared in several well known productions including The Sweeney, Minder, Doctor Who, The Saint, Casualty and Z Cars. He was even considered for the role of the seventh Doctor in Doctor Who but accepted another role before that one progressed any further.

Whatever Hugh is up to today, I hope he has a wonderful birthday! You can meet Hugh at the next London Film Convention which is taking place on Saturday 12 November in London. More information on that can be found here.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Happy Birthday Angela Douglas!

A very happy birthday to Carry On legend Angela Douglas who celebrates her birthday today. Angela has long been a fan favourite thanks to her sparkling performances in four classic mid-60s Carry On films and is now a very welcome presence on Twitter.

Angela has had a long and prolific career in film, on television and stage since the late 1950s. She was married to the late film actor Kenneth More (always one of my favourite actors thanks to his roles in the likes of Genevieve, Doctor in the House and Reach For the Sky) and more recently has become a writer, having published her wonderful autobiography Swings and Roundabouts.

Angela first appeared in the Carry Ons as Annie Oakley in Carry On Cowboy, released in 1965. She returned the following year for a cameo appearance as Doris Mann in Carry On Screaming, uttering the famous line "there is something in those bushes!" before she was got at by Oddbod! In 1967 Angela co-starred with Jim Dale, Kenneth Williams and guest star Phil Silvers in Follow That Camel. I love Angela as the frightfully posh Lady Jane Ponsonby - I think it might be my favourite of her roles in the Carry Ons. Her final performance in the series came the following year, as Princess Jelhi in Carry On Up The Khyber.

Angela normally worked alongside the brilliant Jim Dale in the Carry Ons. I think they had terrific chemistry together and I wish they had appeared together more often (I have a soft spot for the children's film Digby, The Biggest Dog in the World which saw them reunite several years after the Carry Ons). 

Angela Douglas made a welcome appearance in the Carry On Forever documentary earlier last year, looking wonderful and still proud of her association with the films. It was great to see her back on location in Wales where Khyber was filmed. 

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Angela earlier this year and you can read that here
Whatever Angela is up to today, I hope she has a very happy, memorable birthday. Here's to many more.

You can follow Angela on Twitter @CarryonAngela14

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Happy Birthday Margaret Nolan!


Today we're wishing the lovely Margaret Nolan a very happy birthday! Margaret has been a fixture in British film, television and stage since the early 1960s and continues to delight fans at Film Conventions to this day. 

Of course to us, Maggie will always be best remembered for her six cracking Carry On appearances. Beginning with an eye catching scene in the 1965 film Carry On Cowboy, Margaret went on to appear in Henry, At Your Convenience, Matron, Girls and finally Dick in 1974. While always playing a certain type of character - usually glamorous and a bit ditzy, there was never any doubting how talented an actor Margaret was and is.

Margaret is also well remembered for her appearance not only in the classic Bond film Goldfinger (as Dink) but also for her work as a model in the wonderful Robert Brownjohn title sequences for the film. Other film appearances have included A Hard Day's Night and No Sex Please We're British. On television she has appeared in everything from Steptoe and Son and Crossroads to Budgie and The Sweeney. Margaret also worked a great deal on television with Spike Milligan in the 1970s.


These days Margaret is back in London, after living in Spain for many years. She promotes her film work and also her work as a talented artist. You can find out more about Margaret's life and career by visiting her website here

There is also a great fan Twitter account which is certainly worth a follow and you can find that here   

Whatever Margaret is up to today, I hope she has an excellent birthday! 


You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Friday, 28 October 2016

Hattie Carries On ... As Miss Haggerd


Having covered every one of Joan Sims' 24 Carry On roles it now only seems fair that I turn the spotlight onto another great and loyal member of the team. Sticking with the wonderful women, I've decided to focus on all 14 of Hattie Jacques' Carry On appearances. Hattie's contribution to Carry On comedy was immense. Although appearing in far fewer films that Joan, Hattie created some iconic roles, none more so that the infamous Matron, a character which came to dominate her later career.

However there was far more to Jacques than that. She played Matron in all four of the medical films but there were ten other roles to enjoy too, from a budgie obsessed housewife to an angry, aggressive Spanish cook! So sit back and enjoy a run of blogs which looks at Hattie's Carry On contribution from the very first film in 1958 right through to her last supporting role in Carry On Dick 16 years later. So let's continue our journey today with a look back at Hattie's eighth role in the series, as Miss Haggerd in the 1968 film Carry On Camping.

There's not much new that I can say about Carry On Camping - it's probably the most famous of all the Carry Ons. It's a real rights of passage film that practically everyone in this country has seen at some point. Apart from being the highest grossing film at the UK box office for 1969 and being the first in the series to push the boundaries of nudity, thanks to Barbara Windsor's memorable bikini popping moment, it's also just a bloody funny film. There is no real plot as such, it's just a ragbag group of people all travelling to a campsite and enduring the wonders of the British countryside in the height of summer (alright, the misery of a damp Autumn in the Pinewood Orchard). 

At the centre of Camping is the tale of Sid and Bernie attempting to further their relationships with reluctant girlfriends Joan Sims and Dilys Laye. They hit on the idea of a nudist camp however, as we all know, things do not go to plan. However Paradise Camp does bring them into contact with the young ladies of Chayste Place finishing school, including Babs and Fanny, beautifully brought to life by Barbara Windsor and Sandra Caron. Leading the young ladies on their excursion back to nature are Dr Soaper (a nostril flaring performance from Kenneth Williams) and Miss Haggerd, the gorgeous Hattie Jacques. Miss Haggerd is basically another outing for Hattie's Matron persona and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all!


Camping takes the onscreen relationship between Williams and Jacques to another level. They had worked wonderfully together since the Hancock days on BBC radio but their definitive partnership must certainly be in these films. Having come up against Hattie's Matron as a rather lofty patient in Carry On Nurse, by Doctor nearly a decade later both Williams and Jacques were on the medical staff together. As characters we loved to hate, they struck fear into the hearts of the patients and nursing staff alike before getting their comeuppance. Doctor had ended with Matron declaring her affections for Kenneth's Dr Tinkle in some very funny scenes. Carry On Camping sees this story progress even further with Miss Haggerd entering Dr Soaper's tent!

While different characters on the page, Kenneth and Hattie are really just playing the same characters. They are just sublime though so it doesn't really matter. One of the genius moments in Camping sees Miss Haggerd declare her lust for Dr Soaper and in doing so, refers back to the previous film. In her self-referential line, "I used to work in a hospital...there was a doctor there, he looked just like you!" Talbot Rothwell is being very clever and rewarding the long-term Carry On audience. It's a joy. Of course this romantic scene under canvas is brought to an abrupt end by the rave up in the next field but it's not the end of that particular story arc in the Carry Ons. 


Rothwell kept bringing it back - we would see it again with different characters but the same actors in Carry On Loving in 1970 before we would finally see Kenneth and Hattie's characters marry at the end of Carry On Matron in 1971. Hattie is glorious throughout Camping, enduring the gross indignities of filming in the freezing cold and the mud along with the rest of the Carry On cast. She has some wonderful scenes opposite Barbara and Sandra Caron and is at her formidable best as the school Matron. 

In a cast so packed with regular favourites - Sid, Joan, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard, Barbara, Terry Scott, Peter Butterworth - Hattie stands out in her role as Miss Haggerd and in many ways it's her definitive Carry On performance. Her role in the classic bikini popping sequence means she is part of the one of the most frequently repeated moments not just in Carry On history but in British film. Kenneth's classic line "Matron! Take them away!" the character of Matron went down in cinema history. As I've written before, this run of films sealed Hattie's fate as the perfect Carry On Matron and certainly typecast her in the kind of role. While it must have been frustrating for Jacques the actress, a lady who was bursting with talent, it did give her a lasting place in the nation's affections.

By the end of 1968, Hattie was firmly ensconced back in the bosom of the Carry On team. That year saw the film franchise at the height of its powers - both releases that year (Camping and Khyber) topped the charts and guaranteed a long future for the series, even after ten years and countless films. Who can blame Hattie for sticking with the Carry Ons when they could guarantee that kind of exposure? 

Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, which will be looking at Hattie's role as, yes you guessed it, Matron, in Carry On Again Doctor. 


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