Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Carrying On with The Iron Maiden

 

Spurred on by my recent conversations with the wonderful Noel Purcell's son Patrick (more on that soon) I settled down today to watch one of the few Peter Rogers Productions I have still not seen. Thanks to the brilliant Talking Pictures TV, which I can now finally access, I caught a rare screening of the 1962 film The Iron Maiden.

The Iron Maiden is a charming film, very typical of Peter and Gerald's output in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A rare colour film from the duo at this stage, Maiden is very far removed from the innuendo-encrusted delights to come from later Carry On series entries. Instead this film is much more reminiscent of the classic Ealing comedies, showing the little man railing against adversity in the glorious post-war British countryside. The film is fairly innocent with gentle humour and some rather twee romantic interludes, however the cast is chock full of superb character actors and it's a joyous diversion from the modern world, perfect for a lazy afternoon in front of the television.

 

The Iron Maiden of the title is a vintage traction engine which is a labour of love for leading man Michael Craig. In many ways this film is Peter Rogers' attempt to provide a follow up to the hugely successful Genevieve released almost a decade earlier. While the John Gregson and Dinah Sheridan film focussed on vintage cars, this 1962 picture takes on the world of old engines. It's a curio looking at it from 2017 but it gets full marks on the nostalgia front! Michael Craig is perfect in the lead role. As Jack Hopkins he is in full on romantic hero mode. Craig had previous with the Rogers/Thomas family, having worked twice for Peter's wife Betty Box, first of all in 1959's Upstairs and Downstairs and then the year later starring opposite Leslie Phillips in Betty's Doctor in Love. Michael is a great actor and definitely has the looks and charm to carry the film. Just a shame he didn't work more for the dynamic Pinewood duo as he would have been great in some of the 1960s Carry Ons. Thankfully Michael is very much still alive and well and living in Australia.

An interesting aspect of this film is the number of American actors who form part of the principal cast. Michael Craig's love interest is played by the delightful Anne Helm while her parents are brought to life with considerable charm by Alan Hale Jr and Jeff Donnell. It provides a diversion and these very American characters add interest with their reactions to some rather quirky, curious British eccentrics. 

The film follows the burgeoning romance between Craig and Helm and it's very much opposites attract. There are several lightly comic set pieces involving a headstrong Kathy (Helm) and an equally dogmatic Jack, mostly involving various scrapes with the traction engine. It's all very frothy and light and apart from one unfortunate scene which Craig puts Helm over his knee and gives her a spank, it's all enjoyable stuff. 

However, as with many other films Peter and Gerald produced at this time (Watch Your Stern, Raising The Wind, Nurse On Wheels spring to mind) the main joy of The Iron Maiden is spotting a whole host of familiar faces in supporting roles. The Carry On flag is kept flying by Joan Sims (barely a Peter Rogers film without her at this time) and a young, pre-Carry On Jim Dale in a minor supporting role. Other familiar Carry On supporting players also feature: the charming Brian Rawlinson turns up as a country policeman who has various accidents on his bike; Judith Furse and Ian Wilson play an oddly matched pair of traction engine enthusiasts while that lovely actor Brian Oulton gets a fairly substantial role as the local Vicar. There are also blink and you'll miss 'em appearances from the likes of Michael Nightingale, Anton Rodgers and Cyril Chamberlain.



There are other notable non-Carry On actors present too. I've recently been hearing memories from Noel Purcell's son Patrick on his father's role in the film as Admiral Sir Digby Trevelyan and Patrick was even present on set to see some of the scenes filmed. Cecil Parker, a year before filming his Carry On Jack cameo, appears as Hopkins' boss Sir Giles Thompson. George Woodbridge, another familiar face has a lovely cameo role as Mr Ludge while future Emmerdale legend Richard Thorp (Alan Turner) also turns up as Harry Markham. 

The Iron Maiden has all the hallmarks of classic, confident Rogers and Thomas. The cinematography is by Alan Hume, co-producer is Frank Bevis and Eric Rogers does the music. Interestingly, the film is written by neither Norman Hudis or the soon to emerge Talbot Rothwell. Instead, legendary lyricist and composer Leslie Bricusse is behind this film and it's a decent effort on his part. Eric Rogers was soon to join the Carry On team as their full time music director following the departure of Bruce Montgomery. Some of the music in The Iron Maiden is very familiar indeed, a test run for Carry On Cabby perhaps and a rather stately little number which would turn up six years later in Up The Khyber. You can see all the elements gelling already.


 

All in all, The Iron Maiden isn't the best film Peter and Gerald turned out at the peak of their powers but it does feature some of the very best British character actors around. It's a diverting little yarn which survives on the quality of the cast and the willingness of the audience to indulge in some delightful nostalgia. 

As an aside, it's definitely worth checking out Talking Pictures TV. They very often show some rare and classic gems from the world of British cinema, the kind of films you used to watch on BBC Two on a rainy afternoon. There are some absolutely lovely titles to be seen so do check that channel out. You can follow them on Twitter here and there website is here

And stay tuned for my interview with Patrick Purcell, son of the great Noel Purcell, coming soon!



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Carry On Classics: Carry On Cruising


Last week I brought some classic clips from the Carry Ons in an attempt to lighten the mood following some rather grim recent events in the wider world. I blogged some of my favourite scenes from the likes of Matron, Loving and Abroad. Well I so enjoyed going through the archives online that I thought I'd do it for another week, this time casting my net a little wider.

Many of you seem to really like the charm and innocence of the early black and white, Norman Hudis scripted Carry Ons. They are shown as often as some of the later Rothwell films but I think they deserve as much praise for what they achieved. There is a real heart to those early pictures and they are both beautifully written and played by our regular cast of comedy misfits. Today I'm continuing with two clips from the very first colour Carry On, Carry On Cruising.

Carry On Cruising is a delightful film. It's so bright and cheerful and marked a departure from the tried and trusted formula of the already established series. It's basically a hand picked cast of character actors off a holiday via Pinewood Studios, naturally. The film really hangs around the main stars of Sid James and Kenneths Williams and Connor as many of the other regular faces (Hawtrey, Phillips, Jacques and Sims) are missing from the line up. This does however allow other actors like Dilys Laye and Esma Cannon much more screen time.

Two of my favourite little scenes are featured below. The first sees Kenneth Williams take on the the diminutive Esma Cannon for a game of table tennis, under the watchful eye of Sid's Captain Crowther. Of course Esma is rather a fiendish player and the scene quickly descends into beautifully played farce and slapstick! 

The second scene is part of one of the major story strands from the film - the romantic entanglements of the ship doctor, the bumbling yet charming Dr Binn played by Kenneth Connor. Kenneth is forever getting into scrapes as he attempts to woo the single-minded, head strong Flo (Dilys Laye). Enjoy!  







More coming up tomorrow!

Carry On!

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Carry On Joanie!


I'm remembering the wonderful Joan Sims today, 16 years after her sad death. I have always been a massive fan of Joan, she was my favourite of all the Carry On actors and her talent was endless. 

Here are a few clips of Joan from various sources over the years. First of all, an appearance alongside the wonderful Beryl Reid in a television special from 1968.



Joan Sims was an Essex girl, having been brought up in the station house at Laindon. She lived there with her parents until she moved to London to attend drama school. The rest is history! Here is a short piece detailing Joan's roots in Essex:





Here's a wonderful seen featuring Joan with Norman Wisdom in the film Just My Luck, released in 1957. It is typical Norman Wisdom farce and larking about but Joan is, as always, superb:



Finally for now, a musical treat. Joan released several comedy records in the early 1960s, working with George Martin. I've blogged about some of these before, but here's another one of her recordings, featuring the tracks Spring Song and Men:


So sit back and enjoy some classic Joan Sims. Carry On Joan!


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Monday, 26 June 2017

Carry On Classics: Carry On Constable

 

Last week I brought you some classic clips from the Carry Ons in an attempt to lighten the mood following some rather grim recent events in the wider world. I blogged some of my favourite scenes from the likes of Matron, Loving and Abroad. Well I so enjoyed going through the archives online that I thought I'd do it for another week, this time casting my net a little wider.

Many of you seem to really like the charm and innocence of the early black and white, Norman Hudis scripted Carry Ons. They are not shown as often as some of the later Rothwell films but I think they deserve as much praise for what they achieved. There is a real heart to those early pictures and they are both beautifully written and played by our regular cast of comedy misfits. Today I'm starting off with one of the most infamous sequences from one of the early Carry Ons.

Carry On Constable, the fourth film to be made featured the start of a regular team of actors, most notably Kenneths Williams and Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques. Constable is probably most notable for the first appearance of an actor who many consider to be the leading light of the series, one Mr Sidney James. This clip features some of the highlights from the film, as presented in the 1977 feature, That's Carry On. It's most famous sequence is that shower scene which saw the first glimpses of nudity in a Carry On in the form of the rear ends of those silly constables Williams, Hawtrey, Connor and Leslie Phillips! Enjoy:




More coming up tomorrow!

Carry On!

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

Sykes - The Complete Series on DVD!

Those lovely people at Network Distributing will soon be releasing Sykes: The Complete Series on DVD! The set will be available from 26 June and it will contain every episode from the 1970s BBC relaunch of this wonderful comedy series.


Starring Eric Sykes (The Others, Harry Potter) and Hattie Jacques (Carry On films) as twins living and ever so slightly surreal life in this BBC comedy series. Eric and Hattie annoy their snobbish neighbor Mr Brown (Richard Wattis) and aggravate the local PC Corky Turnbull (Deryck Guyler) and generally make a nuisance of themselves in this long running BBC sitcom which aired between 1972 – 1979 and followed Sykes and Jacques previous collaborations Sykes and a… (1960-1965) and Sykes and a Big, Big Show


Showcasing Eric's whimsical, slightly anarchic sense of humour, Sykes saw Eric playing an alternate version of himself - just one step removed from normality! Sharing a house with his twin sister Hat, Eric has to suffer the slings and arrows of everyday life, something he invariably does with bad grace and obstinacy. With snobbish neighbour Mr Brown and nosey local PC "Corky" Turnbull always on hand to help turn a drama into a crisis, it's no wonder Eric spends half his time fantasising and the other half coping with catastrophe!


The series features appearances from a whole host of British comedy talent including Peter Sellers, Joan Sims, Roy Kinnear, John Le Mesurier, Bernard Bresslaw, Joan Hickson and Bill Pertwee. 

Now, for the first time this new DVD set contains all seven series, 68 episodes in total.

You can find out more here: www.networkonair.com 




With thanks to Tom at Blue Dolphin PR. For now I'll leave you with the wonderful intro from the series...




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Sunday, 25 June 2017

My Review of Sykes: The Complete Series

 

As I've previously blogged, Network On Air will be releasing the Complete Sykes on DVD, tomorrow 26 June! Sykes has always been one of my very favourite classic comedy series and I was thrilled when offered the chance of a sneak preview of the new DVD set. The set comprises all 68 episodes of the colour series broadcast on the BBC between 1972 and 1979. The first colour series from 1972 was issued on DVD some years back however this is the first time every episode from the relaunched programme has been available for fans to own.

Sykes is a glorious semi-surreal domestic sitcom which at the heart is all about the joyous chemistry between long time collaborators Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques. As twins Eric and Hat, life at Sebastopol Terrace, East Acton, was always full of surprises. While the series features a host of well-known, colourful guest stars, for me it's all about Sykes and Jacques. Sykes, who also wrote all the episodes, is playing the slightly pompous arrogant little man, finding himself in a host of tricky situations. Jacques meanwhile steps away from the bombastic Matron persona of the Carry Ons to play a softer character who is normally the voice of reason when her brother gets above himself. I always loved Sykes for the fact the writing very very rarely touched upon Hattie's size, something which could sometimes dominate in the Carry Ons. Sykes features by far some of my favourite performances from Hattie, surely one of our all-time greatest comic actresses.

 

For me the first series from 1972 features the best quality scripts and stories. Many of them are simply remade from the original 1960s black and white Sykes and A ... which ran from 1960 to 1965. That doesn't matter - if they feel at all familiar it's only in a comforting sense. My all-time favourite episode has to be the one featuring Peter Sellers as the escaped convict Tommy Grando. This episode, "Stranger" features a rare television performance from Sellers, who obviously goes back a long way with Eric. The chemistry between the three lead actors is superb and it's clear they can hardly keep a straight face throughout. The studio audience reaction is catching and the whole episode a complete joy.

Sykes also features other regular characters. The peerless Richard Wattis plays the snooty, snobbish next door neighbour Mr Brown, very much Eric's nemesis. The pair work brilliantly against each other. Such a shame that Wattis passed away during the run - his absence from the later series is keenly felt. Also along for the entire run is Please Sir! favourite Deryck Guyler as P.C Corky Turnbull. Corky is probably the world's most incompetent police constable but Guyler brings along a breezy sense of comedy and easy going charm and is a vital part of the series' success. Making several appearances throughout the run is Carry On favourite and Hattie's best friend, the wonderful Joan Sims. As bakery owner Madge Kettlewell, Joan is Eric's love interest and very nearly marries him at one stage! Joan is great as Madge and there are some fantastic bloopers included of Joan cracking up on set with Eric and Hattie which show Sims' tremendous sense of fun. It's just a shame she didn't feature more often in the show.

 

A host of other brilliant, well-known talent features in the series. The likes of Bernard Bresslaw, Roy Kinnear, John Le Mesurier, Joan Hickson, Dinah Sheridan, Sheila Steafel, Michael Ripper, Derek Francis, Les Dawson, Chic Murray, Hugh Paddick and Bill Maynard all appear throughout the run. The quality of the writing and the performances from all these wonderful talents really does make Sykes a cut above many other comedy series of the time.

The DVD set isn't cheap however it contains pristine versions of all 68 episodes, totaling nearly 2000 minutes of classic BBC comedy, of the kind they just don't make any more. The set has some interesting extras. They include a special interview with the late, great Eric Sykes; a special Spotlight programme on the comedian; behind the scenes footage from the studio as the series was filmed and an extensive booklet of extra information on the series written by television historian Andrew Pixley. 

 

The chance to own a complete set of this classic comedy is just too good an opportunity to miss. I grew up catching repeats of this series on BBC2 and sadly it appears yet another one of those shows that is just never broadcast on the television any more. This newly presented DVD box set is the perfect opportunity to relive some classic comedy and see some of our favourite comedy stars doing what they do best!

Sykes: The Complete Series is available from tomorrow, Monday 26 June.





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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Happy Birthday Julian Holloway!

 

Many happy returns to that wonderful British actor Julian Holloway who celebrates his birthday today. Julian, who has lived in California for the last twenty years, appeared in eight classic Carry On films during a long career in television, film and on stage.

Julian made his first appearance in the Carry Ons as a cheeky ticket inspector opposite Angela Douglas in Follow That Camel in 1967. He went on to appear in Carry On Doctor later that year, following that up with larger roles as Major Shorthouse in Up The Khyber (taking part in the legendary dinner party sequence) and as Jim Tanner in Camping - witnessing Barbara Windsor's infamous bikini popping moment. Later roles in the series included Adrian in Carry On Loving, Sir Thomas in Carry On Henry and an uncredited cameo as Roger in At Your Convenience. Following a gap of five years, during which he guest starred in the 1973 Carry On Christmas television special, Julian returned to Pinewood to play Major Butcher in 1976's Carry On England. 

 

There was a definite feel that the producers were lining Julian up to take over where Jim Dale left off. He obviously stepped in to cover some of Jim's material while he was absent from the series in 1968 but I don't know what happened after that as big roles in the films didn't really materialise for Julian. I think that's a shame as he had a wonderful cheeky chappie persona which suited the Carry Ons perfectly. 

Away from the Carry Ons, Julian has enjoyed a long and successful career. On film he appeared in the Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night, Ryan's Daughter, Scream and Scream Again, Young Winston and the big screen version of Porridge. On television, Julian has appeared in everything from The World of Wooster and Crown Court to The Sweeney, The Professionals and Minder. One of my favourite of all his performances was as the drunken Jack Favell in the BBC's 1979 adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel Rebecca, which starred Anna Massey, Joanna David and Jeremy Brett. These days Julian works in America and is a prolific vocal artist both in films and commercials. 

Julian is the son of the late, great Stanley Holloway who starred in many classic British films including The Lavender Hill Mob, Passport to Pimlico and The Titfield Thunderbolt and Julian's daughter is the model turned television cook Sophie Dahl. 

We most recently saw Julian take part in the ITV Carry On Forever documentary where he shared memories of his time working on such treasured classics as Carry On Up The Khyber and Carry On Camping. It's a shame we don't see more of him on our screens these days. 

 

Whatever Julian is up to today, I hope he has a fantastic birthday!





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Friday, 23 June 2017

Carry On Laughing: Carry On Matron

 

The news has been pretty bleak of late what with one thing and another. It can be difficult in troubled times to stay positive but I think if anyone is going to keep us smiling in the face of adversity it's the Carry On team. So every day this week I'm going to blog one of my favourite Carry On clips to hopefully raise the odd smile or two.

To finish this week of special Carry On clips, I've chosen a sequence from the 1971 classic, Carry On Matron. The film is dominated by a trio of wonderful performance from series veterans Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey and this scene sees them at their joyously camp best. Kenneth's Sir Bernard Cutting is desperate to prove himself to Jacques' Matron however Charles gets in the way as Dr F.A Goode! 

The scene sees Talbot Rothwell at his best. It's packed full of funny one liners, beautifully played farce and plenty of slapstick. The scene of Hattie and Charles settling down for an evening of television viewing is set up wonderfully and Kenneth's undignified entrance into proceedings is a joy to behold. Quite simply it's three old pros having a whale of a time in each others' company! Enjoy! 






Carry On!

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Happy Birthday Sally Geeson!

 

Many happy returns to the lovely Sally Geeson, who celebrates her birthday today. Sally, who returned to the entertainment business a couple of years back, did of course star in two classic Carry On films in the 1970s.

Sally made her biggest and most memorable appearance in the series with her role as Lily in Carry On Abroad in 1972. In what many fans believe to be the last really great Carry On, Sally worked well opposite Carol Hawkins as two young girls off on a long weekend to the Spanish island of Elsbells. Sally proved such a hit with the team that she returned for the very next Carry On, playing the cameo role as Cecil Gaybody's assistant Debra in Carry On Girls.

Sally did make an even earlier appearance in the Carry Ons, with a blink and you'll miss it cameo as a child actor in Carry On Regardless in 1960. If you keep your eyes peeled during the Ideal Home section of the film, you may just spot a young Sally in the audience as Kenneth Williams demonstrates the latest in children's toys!

These days Sally is best remembered for playing Sid James' daughter (also called Sally) in the classic Thames television sitcom Bless This House. Sally spent nearly six years with the series and also appeared in the big screen version, produced and directed by a certain Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas. Sadly Sally is now the last surviving cast member from the Bless This House series. 

I love Sally's obvious love and devotion for her late colleague and screen father, Sid James. She always speaks so fondly of Sid and clearly admired him, enjoyed working with him and learned a lot from the great man. As Sid's memory was frequently sullied following his death, it's wonderful to hear such positive recollections of a man who was a comedy hero to many.

 

Whatever Sally is up to today, I hope she had a wonderful birthday!


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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Carry On Laughing: Carry On Loving

 

The news has been pretty bleak of late what with one thing and another. It can be difficult in troubled times to stay positive but I think if anyone is going to keep us smiling in the face of adversity it's the Carry On team. So every day this week I'm going to blog one of my favourite Carry On clips to hopefully raise the odd smile or two.

Today I bring you a delightful clip from the first Carry On from the saucy seventies - Carry On Loving. The dating agency comedy, Rothwell's in-house tribute to Norman Hudis' Carry On Regardless a decade earlier, features the regular Carry On faces alongside a mix of younger, fresh-faced talent such as Richard O'Callaghan, Imogen Hassall and Jacki Piper. The clip I've chosen features the lovely Imogen before her dramatic and very glamorous transformation.

The slightly randy, accident prone Terence Philpott (Terry Scott) is sent off to the Grubb residence to met the daughter, Jenny (Hassall). However Terry ends up taking tea with the entire Grubb family, a real rogues gallery of mainly silent cameos. Joan Hickson guest stars as the formidable head of the family and the scene is a delightful farce which could have graced the London stage or any of the best television sitcoms of the era:






More coming up tomorrow!

Carry On!

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

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Carry On Laughing: Again Doctor

 

The news has been pretty bleak of late what with one thing and another. It can be difficult in troubled times to stay positive but I think if anyone is going to keep us smiling in the face of adversity it's the Carry On team. So every day this week I'm going to blog one of my favourite Carry On clips to hopefully raise the odd smile or two.

Today I've got a clip from the 1969 medical Carry On, Again Doctor. This film is well remembered for featuring Jim Dale on his runaway hospital trolley and Barbara Windsor wearing little more than three strategically placed hearts. Ahem. The clip below is a lovely little inconsequential scene featuring the soon to depart Jim Dale as Dr Jimmy Nookey. It's basically an excuse to shoehorn two of Jim's frequent co-stars from previous films into the action - Peter Gilmore and Peter Butterworth.

The spot diagnosis gag is yet again not very complex or high brow but it's lifted above the humdrum by performances from three lovely actors. Peter Butterworth in particular shines through this very brief cameo as a rather pained hospital visitor...!




More coming up tomorrow!

Carry On!

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

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Carry On Laughing: Carry On Abroad

 

The news has been pretty bleak of late what with one thing and another. It can be difficult in troubled times to stay positive but I think if anyone is going to keep us smiling in the face of adversity it's the Carry On team. So every day this week I'm going to blog one of my favourite Carry On clips to hopefully raise the odd smile or two.

Today I've got a clip from another film in my top ten - the glorious Carry On Abroad. Probably the last film in the series to be officially termed a classic, it features a cast full of wonderful comedy actors and the very last appearance from Charles Hawtrey. The clip below is a mash up of various slapstick calamities to befall the likes of Sid James, Jimmy Logan and Peter Butterworth as they battle through the dubious pleasures of the Palace Hotel on the island of Elsbells. 

This video clip features one of my very favourite sequences from the entire series as Sid and Peter Butterworth engage in a lovely bit of business involving a balcony door. The gag is set up early on in the film and bears fruit during the big finale. it's a fairly basic scene lifted up into something special thanks to Sid's brilliant comic timing and a truly hysterical Joan Sims who's laughter goes way beyond normal performance!





More coming up tomorrow!

Carry On!

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

Monday, 19 June 2017

Barbara Carries On ... As Bettina

 

Barbara Windsor will be celebrating her 80th birthday this August. In the run up to this milestone, I've decided to blog profiles of each of her nine famous Carry On roles. Much the same as I did with both Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques, these blogs will take each part in turn and provide my own personal take on them. 

Barbara, or Dame Babs as it is now, is a showbiz legend in the UK, with a career dating back to the 1950s. As the recent Babs drama on BBC1 revealed, things haven't always been easy for Windsor, but her hard work and determination have seen her bounce back time and time again. No matter what else she has done in her career, the Carry Ons will always dominate and from our point of view, as Carry On fans, rightly so! So let's continue today with Barbara's fifth role in the series, as Bettina in the 1970 film Carry On Henry. 

 

Barbara's role in Carry On Henry is often quoted as her favourite in the entire series and it's not hard to see why really. Henry, the twenty first Carry On film to go into production, was a rather lavish film, at least by Carry on standards. The setting, the costumes, the dance routines, everything was a cut above. This retelling of the story of Henry VIII went into production at an extremely fortuitous time for Peter Rogers, with a renewed interest in the famous monarch in the early 1970s, both on the small and the big screen. The film provides Sid James with one of his best ever roles and as Henry he chews up the scenery was comedic relish, whether it's throwing over tables in the dining room, showing the likes of Terry Scott and Kenneth Williams who is the boss or chasing buxom wenches in the form of Margaret Nolan and Barbara herself, Sid is definitely in charge.

The film is a comic retelling of Henry's story, although initial scenes depicting Patsy Rowlands going to the block to have her head chopped off did commence proceedings with a dash of realism. It's not long though before Williams and Hawtrey are mincing about the palace and Joan Sims is attempting to convince the King that garlic is an aphrodisiac... Good luck with that one! Joan plays Henry's new French queen, Marie, and although they get off to a promising start, soon the odour of garlic puts the tin lid on any consummation. So, Henry does what he always does and start to look around for a replacement wife. Of course Marie's French heritage throws a spanner in the works, especially when her brother Francis (Francie!) comes to visit. This provides Peter Gilmore with one of his biggest and most outrageous Carry On supporting turns and his double act with Sid is a joy.

 

Anyway, on to Barbara's role in the film. Babs actually doesn't appear until about half way through the action but it's a performance worth waiting for. As Bettina, Barbara is the new object of the King's affections, catching his eye at court when presented by her father (a blink and you'll miss it appearance by Peter Butterworth). King Sid soon installs Bettina as Queen Marie's lady in waiting however his attempts to woo her are clumsy and ill advised, despite the best efforts of his associate Sir Thomas (Julian Holloway). This basically amounts to several scenes in which the pair attempt to disrobe Barbara's character. By now this was par for the course for Windsor in any Carry On however what is probably overlooked is just how much flesh is on display in Carry On Henry! Most of these scenes are completely cut by ITV3 whenever they repeat it by the way...

Barbara plays Bettina as quite a wide-eyed innocent which makes a pleasant change from some of her previous characters. It's actually a performance much more like her debut in Carry On Spying and that makes it a great deal better for me than anything that followed. Barbara plays the part with a delightful simplicity, failing to take the hint from King Sid and misunderstanding his numerous advances. Of course being a Carry On, Sid never does get what he wants and in the end it's Peter Gilmore's French King who departs with Bettina at his side. Henry ends up back where he started with Queen Marie and his new issue, who's parentage is a subject for debate!

 

It's easy to see why Barbara enjoyed making Carry On Henry. She's working alongside great actors like Sid, Joan Sims and Peter Gilmore and she gets the chance to wear wonderful period costumes. Barbara only ever made two period Carry Ons, this and her final film in the series, 1974's Carry On Dick, but it's this role that shines. She looks terrific throughout and her chemistry with Sid is at its peak. Despite fairly limited screen time in comparison to the likes of Williams, Sims and Scott, Barbara is definitely one of the highlights of the film.

To finish, a couple of Carry On Henry clips. First up is a rather obvious yet fun scene featuring King Henry attempting to try it on with Mistress Bettina, the best Bet in town...ahem:



And as an extra treat, here's some behind the scenes footage of the making of Carry On Henry, showing the cast at work and featuring some lovely little interviews:



Enjoy! Next up will be my take on Barbara's role in the final medical film in the series, the 1971 film Carry On Matron.



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Carry On Laughing: At Your Convenience

 

The news has been pretty bleak of late what with one thing and another. It can be difficult in troubled times to stay positive but I think if anyone is going to keep us smiling in the face of adversity it's the Carry On team. So every day this week I'm going to blog one of my favourite Carry On clips to hopefully raise the odd smile or two.

We're starting today with one of my very favourite Carry On films - At Your Convenience. Although maligned on its release, Convenience has become a classic and pretty much typifies the "perfect" Carry On. It has all the key ingredients: a cast full of favourite actors, a script full of double entendres and even a trip to Brighton thrown in for good measure! One of my favourite scenes in the entire film is the canteen show down between Kenneth Cope's Union rep and the bosses' son played by Richard O'Callaghan. 

Joan Sims is the real star of the scene as factory worker Chloe. Sims delivers one perfectly timed innuendo after another and her laughter and sparkling sense of fun is infectious. So sit back and enjoy some classic Carry On antics:


More coming up tomorrow!

Carry On!

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