Monday 21 December 2020

Remembering Rosalind Knight


It was announced yesterday that the actress Rosalind Knight had died at the age of 87. A firm favourite with fans of classic comedy, Rosalind appeared in two of the very early black and white Carry On films in the late 1950s. She was one of the few tangible links to these gentle comedy films of the past and we all mourn her passing.

As with every actor who appeared in the Carry Ons however, there was so much more to the career of Rosalind Knight than her Carry On roles. Despite the headlines labelling her ‘Carry On actress’, which of course she was during late 1958 and early 1959, Rosalind enjoyed a diverse career in comedy and drama; film, television and the stage, over seven decades. Even though she had an early brush with Britain’s most famous and long running film comedy franchise, she was clearly not pigeonholed or typecast. All power to her for that.

Rosalind Knight was a completely unique performer. She played such a variety of character roles across all mediums yet was always eye-catching. She was never one to blend into the background. Coming from a respected theatrical family – her father was the actor Esmond Knight, her mother the comedienne Frances Clare and her stepmother the actress Nora Swinburne – Rosalind devoted her life to the theatrical profession. The line has continued too, following her marriage to the theatre director Michael Elliott in 1959, the couple had two daughters, the actress Susannah Elliott-Knight and the theatre director Marianne Elliott. Marianne is married to the actor Nick Sidi.

It was Knight’s father who first sparked Rosalind’s desire to become an actress. Taking her to see productions at the Old Vic in 1949, Rosalind was left spellbound and from that point on, taking to the stage was all she wanted to do. She soon won a place at the Old Vic Theatre School and trained there for the next two years – one of her tutors was the legendary George Devine, who would go on to create the renowned Royal Court Theatre. Working her way up through repertory theatre in England, she played various small parts and worked in the role of Assistant Stage Manager. During this time the young Rosalind worked alongside another future great of the theatre, a certain Joe Orton. Years later, Rosalind would appear in Orton’s play What the Butler Saw as Mrs Prentice and even go on to play the role of a RADA Judge in the 1987 film about Orton’s life, Prick Up Your Ears.

Rosalind’s first substantial film part came in 1957 when she was cast as Annabel, one of the infamous grown up school girls in the film Blue Murder at St Trinian’s. With a cast including Joyce Grenfell, Terry-Thomas, George Cole, Alastair Sim, Richard Wattis and Lionel Jeffries, this was clearly a big turning point in Rosalind’s career. One of her fellow school girls was another future Carry On actress, Dilys Laye. I am quite sure Rosalind’s role in this film led to her being cast in Carry On Nurse the following year. Nurse, the second film in the Carry On series and the first of the films with a medical theme, saw Rosalind appear in the small but striking role as accident prone student nurse Nightingale. Filming her scenes with Susan Beaumont and Ann Firbank, Rosalind’s brief scenes are a high point and it was clear to see she was a natural fit with the very British brand of comedy these early Carry Ons achieved.

In the spring of 1959, Rosalind joined the Carry On team once more, this time for a starring role, billed with the main team, as the rather severe and haughty school inspector Felicity Wheeler in Carry On Teacher. She shines here in a chalk and cheese comedy partnership with fellow inspector, none other than Leslie Phillips. Teacher is pretty innocent compared to many of the later series entries and remains a cosy favourite for many fans. It boasts a superb cast – Kenneths Connor and Williams, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey and guest star Ted Ray – and a brilliant cast of young actors (Richard O’Sullivan and Carol White among them) mainly hired from the Corona Academy. One of the main strands of Teacher is the melting of Felicity Wheeler’s harsh exterior as she falls for the accident prone, hapless science teacher, marvellously played by Kenneth Connor. Rosalind and Kenneth have wonderful on screen chemistry and it’s just a shame they didn’t work together again. Although she did not appear in any further Carry Ons, Rosalind was always kind to fans of the series and attended several conventions later in her career. She also appeared in a celebration of all things Carry On, Carry On Forever, in 2015, which saw her back at the location used for Maudlin Street School in Carry On Teacher. It was a joy to see her reminisce.

Further film roles included that of Mrs Fitzpatrick in the Oscar winning 1963 picture Tom Jones, which starred Albert Finney, Susannah York and another actress who would go on to Carry On fame – Patsy Rowlands. Rosalind appeared in a variety of films throughout the rest of her career, including such diverse titles as Eskimo Nell (1975); The Wildcats of St Trinian’s (1980); Afraid of the Dark (1991); About a Boy (2001) and The Lady in the Van (2015). Perhaps a more prolific television performer, Rosalind took many guest parts in a wide variety of familiar shows across several decades. She popped up in, amongst others: Mapp and Lucia (1985); a particularly memorable guest role as a landlady in Only Fools and Horses in 1989; two episodes of Midsomer Murders (2003 and 2011); the daytime soap opera Doctors in 2005 and 2009); Poirot in 1992; Heartbeat (2000); Casualty (2002) and Sherlock in 2012. Based in Manchester for many years, it is therefore no surprise that Rosalind also appeared in several Granada Television productions – most notably Coronation Street in 1981 and Sherlock Holmes three years later.

Perhaps Rosalind’s most famous (or should that be infamous) television creation was that of retired prostitute Beryl Merit and elderly landlady of 69 Paradise Passage in the BBC2 sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme. The series, written by Jonathan Harvey and starring Kathy Burke and James Dreyfus, won great acclaim and still enjoys a loyal following. This series introduced Rosalind to a whole new generation of fans. Yet again proving she was above any form of typecasting, her role as Beryl saw Rosalind dabble in innuendo even the Carry Ons wouldn’t have dreamt up – at one point Beryl was involved in shop lifting, bootlegging and even worked as an escort…Fondly recalled by her co-stars yesterday on Twitter, it is clear Kathy Burke and James Dreyfus loved working with Rosalind.

Before I end, I wanted to write a little about Rosalind’s strong links to Manchester and in particular, the Royal Exchange Theatre in that great city. Rosalind acted on stage throughout her career in a wide range of productions, most notably at the Royal Court, the Old Vic and the Royal Exchange. Her theatre career saw her work alongside actors of the calibre of Vanessa Redgrave, Arthur Lowe, Rex Harrison and her own father, Esmond. After her marriage to Michael Elliott in 1959, she worked alongside him to develop the Royal Exchange Theatre during the 1970s. Elliott became one of the founding directors and a driving force behind many important productions there until his death in 1984. Rosalind continued her close allegiance with the Exchange and appeared in productions there from the late 1970s right through until the late 1990s, when she was directed by her daughter Marianne in a production of Noel Coward’s Nude With Violin.

Rosalind continued to work right up until this year, with more recent parts on screen including a guest role in The Crown and a recurring part as ‘Horrible Grandma Goodman’ in the hit Channel 4 comedy, Friday Night Dinner.

Her family paid warm tributes to Rosalind yesterday when her death was announced. The outpouring of sadness and affection for Rosalind Knight on Twitter and in the press shows just how widely she was celebrated, both within the profession she so dearly loved and by fans of all generations.

Friday 11 December 2020

Remembering Dame Barbara Windsor

Dame Barbara Windsor has passed away at the age of 83. A cliché of course, but Barbara was someone you could imagine being around forever. Made public in 2018, her battle with Alzheimer’s disease was a cruel end to a life so full of energy, humour and passion. Barbara fought it bravely, in character with the way she lived her life. Gutsy, determined, full of spirit. And all with her beloved husband Scott by her side.

Barbara Windsor wasn’t my favourite Carry On star. She grabbed many of the headlines over the years and had a firm place in all our affections, but for me Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques were my leading Carry On ladies. I admired Barbara more for her other work – and there was so much of it. She was a grafter who endured many ups and downs during a professional life which spanned seven decades. She will forever be known for her nine Carry On films and her long run as pub landlady and fierce East End matriarch Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders. There was much more to Barbara than that.

Barbara made her name as part of Joan Littlewood’s famous Theatre Workshop troupe of actors, based at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. Barbara rose to fame there, becoming Joan’s ‘Little Bird’. Starring in Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be and Oh! What a Lovely War, she was a sensation. Her association with Joan led to her big screen break in Sparrows Can’t Sing in 1963. From there, film comedy stardom beckoned.

Barbara’s mother had started it all. Sending her daughter for elocution lessons, this led to training at the famous Aida Foster School. 1952 saw Barbara make her West End debut in the musical Love From Judy – where she first met fellow comedy legend Dame June Whitfield. Barbara stayed in the chorus for two years. Early film roles soon followed, including that of a school girl in 1954’s The Belles of St Trinian’s, a young girl in the chemist’s in Lost (1956), a switchboard operator in Make Mine a Million (1959) and Mavis in On The Fiddle in 1961. Each of these films brought her into contact with future Carry On co-stars. At the same time, Barbara was appearing in cabaret at Winston’s nightclub in London’s West End, alongside another future star – Amanda Barrie.

Barbara first joined the Carry On team in 1964 when she played super spy Daphne Honeybutt in Carry On Spying. She was a breath of fresh air for the series and for me, this first role is her best performance in the films. It mixes saucy humour and a certain knowingness with a sweetness and innocence which was lost in later entries. She also looks absolutely stunning in Alan Hume’s crisp black and white photography. She holds her own in Spying opposite more experienced, male comedy actors in Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Cribbins. All three men would become lifelong friends to Barbara.

Indeed, Kenneth and Barbara were inseparable and in many ways similar characters. So close were they that Kenneth, his sister Pat and mother Louie even joined Barbara on her honeymoon abroad in 1964. Such stories are the stuff of legend for Carry On fans. Although the ideal fit for the Carry Ons, it would be a further three years before she appeared again with the famous comedy team. Returning for a supporting role as Nurse Sandra May in Carry On Doctor, her status as a comedy icon was confirmed. Barbara, dolled up in her nurses uniform mincing up to Peter Gilmore, Bernard Bresslaw or Sid James for a bout of obvious innuendo are images forever imbedded in the nation’s psyche.

Perhaps her most famous Carry On role remains that of the cheeky overgrown schoolgirl Babs in Carry On Camping. The classic, oft replayed exercise sequence with Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques’ Matron is part of cinematic history. It gains a reaction from audiences no matter how many times we’ve all seen it. Barbara always talked fondly (if also realistically) about making these low budget films and to her credit, even though for much of her life she was type-cast by them, she never forgot them or her wonderful co-stars. After many of her Carry On colleagues had passed away, Barbara became the main focal point of love and affection for the Carry Ons. As the films became popular and even fashionable again with younger generations, she was a tangible link to the past and never shied away from that. A Carry On ambassador in the 21st century.

If anything was going to eclipse the Carry On image, it was her brave career move to the BBC soap opera EastEnders in 1994. Following several years in the wilderness – summer seasons and the odd television guest role – Barbara was back in the public eye. And for many, it was a surprise to see Barbara flexing her serious acting muscles in the role of Peggy Mitchell. She challenged our perceptions of that fluffy Carry On image by putting in some heart breaking dramatic performances, never less than when her character was diagnosed with breast cancer. Barbara was never afraid of taking a risk or pushing herself and her EastEnders character provoked strong reactions on occasion. She was a star all over again, winning awards for her portrayal of such a strong woman. In retrospect, the role had been waiting for her all her working life.

Departing EastEnders for good back in 2016, her farewell was poignant and final. We did not yet know the serious battle she was facing in real life too. Courageous, steadfast, determined, feisty but with a heart of gold. Barbara was old school showbiz, revered by colleagues old and new. Her final battle may have taken her from us but her light will never be dimmed. She was a national treasure, a one-off, a star who transcended generations and genres. The very best of British. Our Babs.

Monday 12 October 2020

Remembering Margaret Nolan

The actress Margaret Nolan has died. She was 76. Another great face, great name, great talent from the best of British film, television and cinema gone. I never met Margaret properly, but I did, once, spot her across a crowded room at one of those fan signing events. She was engrossed in conversation with a well wisher and although it was many years after the likes of Goldfinger and Carry On Girls, she remained striking, effervescent and every inch the icon.

From reading about Margaret, it’s immediately clear that she was so very much more than what she was always known for: providing glamour to an impressive roll call of classic sixties and seventies films and television shows – many still known and often repeated. Margaret was a woman of many talents and while the high profile roles on the screen proved to be her steady income in the profession, Nolan was, latterly much more interested in serious political theatre. She starred in countless productions in small fringe venues, often with the Ambiance Theatre Company or Almost Free Theatre, from the late 1960s onwards. I am sure these roles provided a much needed creative outlet and quite a change from her turns in films.

Margaret also became an acclaimed visual artist much later in life. She created countless photo montages based on images from her early work as a model and actress and these were exhibited at many galleries both in London and abroad. They provided her unique take both on herself and her early forays into the business but also a different perception of the classic 60s lifestyle that she became so synonymous with throughout her life. 

Of course to many, Margaret was known mostly for two things. Firstly, in 1964 she was launched into cinema with two appearances in the classic Sean Connery James Bond adventure, Goldfinger. Margaret took the small role of Dink, Bond’s masseuse in a scene early in the film but more eye-catching was her involvement with the title sequence. Robert Brownjohn’s creation saw Margaret painted gold and don a gold bikini for an iconic sequence which played out with Shirley Bassey’s theme song. The image of Nolan in those titles eventually graced the cover of a book on the work of Brownjohn.

And who can forget Margaret’s six Carry On appearances? Beginning with the small part as a secretary in Carry On Cowboy in 1965, Margaret returned to the series in 1970 with another cameo as a peasant girl opposite Sid James in Carry On Henry. She provided eye-catching support as Bernard Bresslaw’s girlfriend in Carry On At Your Convenience and later the same year popped up again for a hilarious sequence as Mrs Tucker, opposite Terry Scott’s Dr Prodd in Carry On Matron. Possibly Margaret’s most infamous Carry On role came two years later in 1973 when she played beauty contest entrant Dawn Brakes in Carry On Girls. Although pregnant at the time of filming, Margaret still took part in a rather arduous yet memorable cat fight with co-star Barbara Windsor. Margaret’s final appearance in the Carry Ons came the following year, with a more sedate co-starring role, again opposite Bresslaw, in Carry On Dick.

Other well known film roles included parts in the 1966 film comedy, The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery and The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night. In 1973 Margaret co-starred with fellow Carry On actress Valerie Leon in the big screen version of No Sex Please, We’re British. The film also starred Ronnie Corbett, Arthur Lowe and Beryl Reid. Valerie herself paid tribute to Margaret on Twitter earlier today. In contrast to these comedic roles, Margaret also filmed scenes for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 film, Frenzy. Stills remain of this filming, which sees Margaret fleeing from Barry Foster’s protagonist, but sadly she is absent from the final print.

On television, Margaret was particularly prolific during the mid 1960s onwards. As well as guest starring in the usual run of series such as Danger Man, The Saint, Adam Adamant, The Persuaders and The Sweeney, she also struck up a regular working relationship with Spike Milligan. Margaret provided support for Spike in five series’ of Q, for the BBC in the 1970s. Nearly forty years later, Nolan wrote an essay on working with Milligan, which she performed at the Poetry Society in London, to great acclaim. Margaret worked on several episodes of the Adam Faith series Budgie in the early 1970s as well as making appearances in such iconic series as Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, Steptoe and Son, Crown Court and Brideshead Revisited.

One of Margaret’s last television roles before taking a break from acting in the mid 1980s was in the ITV soap opera Crossroads. In 1983 she played the role of Denise Paget, mother to a little girl called Nina, who had Downs Syndrome. This storyline proved quite a departure for the programme and received a great deal of praise for leading the way in its portrayal and discussion of such subject matter.

Shortly after this role, Margaret stepped away from the limelight. Moving to rural Spain, Margaret Nolan raised her family and devoted her time to other interests. For many years out of touch with the acting world, she did eventually return to London and became a familiar face once again, both for her well-received art work and for appearances at fan conventions and in documentaries. It was a joy to see Margaret appear in the 2015 Carry On Forever documentary, reminiscing about her times at Pinewood with the team.

The director and writer Edgar Wright shared the news of Margaret’s passing on Twitter on Sunday evening. Margaret had, last year, filmed a short role in Edgar’s new film, Last Night in Soho, which will also star the late, great Dame Diana Rigg. I am pleased Margaret got to make one final appearance on the big screen at the end of a glorious, diverse and unforgettable career across all media.

On a personal note, a few years ago I came so very close to interviewing Margaret for this blog. Several attempts were made to make contact and it all went quiet. Then suddenly, one Saturday morning, an email arrived from the lady herself. It was totally unexpected and a great pleasure but, due to other commitments sadly it never happened.

Another great figure from the golden age of British film and television has left us. My thoughts are with Margaret’s family and friends.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Guest Blog: Carry On Nurse and other myths, by Helena Sage

In a brand new guest blog, regular reader and Carry On fan Helena Sage writes about her love of a medical Carry On and a deeper look at hour nursing staff are represented in these classic comedies.

So in the first instance let me declare my conflict of interest. I am the greatest of Carry On fans, I am a feminist and I am a trained nurse. None of this sits well with Carry On and its treatment of nurses and women and minorities does it?

However I must say a lot of the depictions of nursing in the Carry Ons have a degree of truth. They are not a million miles away from some of my experiences of nursing in the 1980s and nurses that I know that started their careers even earlier say it is very truthful. 

The Carry Ons and also the Doctor at large series with Dirk Bogarde show the hierarchy and sexism which took place in most London teaching hospitals. The stereotype of Sir Launcelot Spratt and Dr Tinkle (played by Kenneth Williams in the Carry Ons) was largely based on a reality, as was the relentless degradation of the house officers and medical students. The Consultants persecuted the junior doctors and medical students and Matron persecuted the ward sister the ward sister tormented the staff nurses in turn the student nurses. It’s just the way it was.

One of my contemporaries describes it this way:

‘These people were relatively prevalent in the 1980s, ‘I worked with quite a lot of them. There were some absolutely superb surgeons and physicians. Really superb but fundamentally flawed. They would put their own social life and personal agendas ahead of their clinical practices. It was an odd thing to watch.’’ says the professor of intensive care medicine at University College London- Hugh Montgomery.

As in many areas of the arts you must ask the question does Art reflect society or create it.

I do not believe that the depiction of woman and specifically nurses by the Carry On films was its own individual creation, it was a reflection of the times. The freedoms that we enjoy as women in this century were not in existence when these films were being constructed. In addition the casual sexism of everyday life was perfectly acceptable in society and in the workplace. No one questioned it especially those in the receiving end of it. Maybe as women we were compliant in a kind of ‘if you can’t beat them join them way.’

I recall as student nurse we hated our uniforms on day one of issue and at the first opportunity we found a seams mistress that enabled us to take them in by a couple of inches and in addition made our uniforms shorter . By the time we had customised them they fitted extra tight which resulted in a Barbara Windsor type of wiggle as we walked about the wards. Make up was frowned on but we all sneaked on some mascara and eye liner.

The porters at the London teaching hospital I trained at had a little lodge based by the main hospital front doors and had a prime view of the coming and goings of the hospital. They would give every nurse a nickname and were not so flattering. They made up  weekly hall of fame (which yours truly made on a few occasions) with categories. I will leave to your imagination what those categories were.

As women there was no thought to be offended and it would have made no difference if one did. They were burly salt of the earth types the porters, cockney London Fulham geezers (think Sid James)  that heckled and cat called as we  swished past the lodge in our navy blue red lined nurses capes with a haughty look on our faces. 

FYI …Being Greek …they named me ‘Goddess’ or ‘H’ and I heard bellowed at me with a wolf whistle  each shift change. I took to giving them a wave and ‘Good Morning/Evening Ian/Bob/Frank/Smithy’. You had to keep on their good side they could be life savers when you needed blood quickly from the bank or a drip stand or even if a body had to be removed pronto as the admissions were coming thick and fast from A&E. The Nurses treated them as irreverent schoolboys and we knew that in their own way they had utmost respect for us. 

There is an episode in the Carry Ons when Kenneth Williams is about to conduct a ward round and the ward staff and patients are in a state of high anxiety trying to achieve perfection in all areas. This was very much how it was for Consultants ward rounds. This scene is by no means fiction

Ward rounds especially by surgeons could result in spectacular humiliation, on anyone the Doc chose to focus their wrath upon. If he (and it was always a he) was displeased by the tiniest of details all hell broke loose. Even the patients were petrified and ridiculously compliant (unlike those on the carry on films). Patients were referred to as ‘the appendectomy in bed 4 or the laparoscopy in room 2’. I myself was at the tail end of the wrath of a professor of arterial surgery when I forgot to remove a bandage on a diabetic foot quick enough. 

Nowadays it would be totally unacceptable.

Fast forward to 2019.Dominance, arrogance, aggressiveness, and egocentricity are out. In are: integrity, honesty, and the ability to recognise stress in yourself and your effect on others. The modern NHS is a place where employment practices and bedside manners are much changed from the depictions in the Carry On Films and the Doctor at Large films. But then society is unrecognisable. Some may say political correctness has gone mad. But one cannot respect women and have a degree of humanity in our health service without drawing a line. It was really bullying and harassment by any other name.

I must have had a rebellious streak in me because I specialised in sexual health; primarily HIV /AIDs care where the hierarchy had been smashed by a largely irreverent non-compliant male gay patient group. No uniforms no deference patients made the rules for doctors and nurse to abide by. Homosexuality was only made legal in 1967 and I was in the job in 1990 so the change was remarkable. Gay men had found a voice and financial and political power despite the ghastly spectre of HIV/AIDs. They made us get rid of our uniforms to preserve their confidentiality and they called us by our names. They made us change our visiting hours and introduced many changes which we work by now.

 There were no camp Charles Hawtrey type characters either. They were educated assertive informed men. The gay community was no longer repressed. I also had the privilege of working with many DRAG artists.

Dressing up as women in the Carry On films is common. Think of Carry On up the Khyber, Carry on Screaming and many more. Dressing up as a woman is done very badly with reluctance and forced upon Bernard Bresslaw or Kenneth Connor or some other and it results in high jinks .The Drags artists I met were beautiful and professional and spectacular performers.

In the Carry Ons having to dress up as a woman was the joke it was the humiliation. Well not in the 1990s; trans was a whole new way of living. I was lucky enough to be invited a few times to Madam Jo Jo in Soho to drag performers in all their glory. Could we ever have accepted in the Carry on decades that this was a chosen way of life, I doubt it so we laugh at that which is not understood. 

Changing the way Film represents, or fails to represent, people who are not white, straight, or male, will require making systemic changes and we continue to change and evolve. We can be smug and point fingers at the past and comment on the sexism racism or homophobia of the Carry on franchise and other films. But as the ‘me too’ movement showed we are still not where we should be despite what we may think.

Much has changed and improved and Carry On was a product of its time .What then does film in 2019 say about our world right now.

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Monday 6 May 2019

Fancy Being a Guest Blogger? Well Carry On...

A couple of years ago I wrote a guest blog for the wonderful History Usherette Blog which is run by @agathadascoyne . I wrote about the social history of the Carry Ons, comparing Carry On Cruising with Carry On Abroad, highlighting how Britain had changed over that ten year period. This experience got me thinking.

I love hearing from fellow Carry On fans on Twitter. Back in 2015/16 I invited some of you to be my 'Carry On Fan of the Week" answering a few questions on your own personal Carry On favourite moments, actors and films. 

If there are any keen guest bloggers out there with a Carry On related subject you are burning to write about, don't hesitate to drop me a line. I'd love to feature your thoughts on the blog. It can be as long or as short as you like and you can provide photos or I can find some for you. 

You can write about anything as long as it has a Carry On connection.

You can contact me via Twitter by direct message, by using the Contact Form on the blog or by emailing

Carry On Scribbling!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Carrying On… On a Weekend with Lulu

The other day I caught the start of a rather rarely screened British comedy from the early 1960s. Featuring a cast bursting with well loved comedy people, A Weekend WIth Lulu is a film I've heard of before but never seen. Despite the array of talent on display and the obvious fact the film's producers were capitalising on the rise of the Carry On phenomenon, I didn't warm to Lulu or take that much of an interest on their collective weekend! Never mind, can't win 'em all...

What's it about?

Young couple Timothy and Deirdre plan a romantic weekend on the coast in pal Fred's ice cream van and towed caravan, affectionately called "Lulu." When Deirdre's mother insists on coming along as her daughter's chaperone, Timothy's plans are somewhat compromised. A ferry boat mix-up further complicates things, and lands the holidaymakers in France where they encounter a variety of irate Frenchmen.

Carry On Faces?

The film capitalises on the recent success of the fledgling Carry On series by casting several instantly recognisable faces from that franchise in leading and guest roles. Original Carry On leading man Bob Monkhouse, who played Charlie Sage in Sergeant, leads the cast as Fred Scrutton, a kind of wide boy Teddy Boy character. Leslie Phillips, at the time fresh from a run of three Carry Ons (Nurse, Teacher, Constable), plays a more relaxed version of his usual toffee-nosed letch with his eye on some alone time with girlfriend Deirdre, played by none other than Shirley Eaton, the original Carry On blonde.

Playing Shirley's mother in the film is the inimitable Irene Handl, who seemed to be in every comedy film of the era. The film also boasts three prominent guest stars, two of whom were leading men in the Carry Ons at this time. Of course they are none other than Sid James as a Cafe Patron and Kenneth Connor as a British Tourist. The third is the superb actor Sydney Tafler, who had recently filmed a cameo in the fifth Carry On to go into production, Carry On Regardless.

Also look out for two other familiar supporting actors from the Carry Ons - Denis Shaw, here playing a Bar Patron and Judith Furse, better known as Doctor Crow in Carry On Spying. Furse turns up as a character named Madame Bon-Bon!

Did You Know?

The film was produced by Hammer Films, better known for their long run of horror features.

John Paddy Carstairs was the director - a man better known for his association with Norman Wisdom's film comedies.

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Saturday 4 May 2019

Carry On Advertising - Carry On Cowboy

This blog is part of a new little series on Carry On Blogging, looking back at the changing face of the Carry On films during their original twenty year run. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the way the films were advertised to the cinema-going public of Great Britain over the years. These days when I do go to the cinema, I try to avoid the trailers as they tend to go on for rather too long, but of course, with Carry On it's a different story!

Thankfully most of the original trailers are now available to peruse on the internet and they provide a unique time capsule of British film history. The changing tastes of mores of the film-going public can easily be traced through these adverts as can the changing face of the British film industry and the social attitudes of the time. It's also fascinating to see how first Anglo Amalgamated and then later on, the Rank Organisation, chose to market and sell these low budget, knockabout comedies. 

Moving on today to the only Carry On produced in1965, the excellent Carry On Cowboy. Cowboy is the most British of Westerns ever made but it's an absolute joy from start to finish. The series was really firing on all cylinders by this point and Cowboy provides plenty of great performances, lots of laughs, delicious set pieces and also a fair amount of action for good measure. The likes of Sid James, Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore get to play out their cowboy fantasies while Joan Sims never looked better as ravishing saloon owner Belle. And series newcomer Angela Douglas adds some youthful vim as the gun-toting Annie Oakley.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram