Tuesday 31 March 2015

Carry On, Angela

One of the greatest joys of life in the bizarre world of Twitter in recent months has been the delightful presence of Angela Douglas. 

Angela is of course a real fan favourite having appeared in four classic Carry On films in the 1960s. Who can forget her barnstorming performance as Annie Oakley in Carry On Cowboy? Or her frightfully posh turn as Lady Jane in Follow That Camel? Perhaps most memorable of all, the gloriously named Princess Jelhi in Carry On Up The Khyber? 

I think my own favourite performance has to be Angela's first in Cowboy. It was a great part as the gun-toting Annie, saving Jim Dale's Marshall P Knutt again and again and playing Sid's Rumpo Kid at his own game. In particular I adored the scenes where Angela, Joan Sims and Edina Ronay pitched in for a terrific cat fight in Jim Dale's bedroom. Wonderful, earthy stuff!

Angela Douglas brought a youthful, sweet innocence as the romantic lead in those four Carry Ons and I think she definitely appeared in the series at the right time. Later offerings were much more innuendo-laden, reflecting the times I suppose, but I doubt the characters Angela played would have fitted in as well. Angela typified a great line of talented young actresses who scored major successes in the Carry On films, from Shirley Eaton and Liz Fraser through to the likes of Jacki Piper and Carol Hawkins. 

Of course Angela has worked very successfully on a wide range of other film, television and stage productions for many years. It must sometimes be rather annoying to be mainly remembered for four low budget comedies in the mid-1960s however the Carry Ons endure and it has been wonderful to see Angela interact with so many fans and admirers on Twitter. Long may that continue.

Last year I also read Angela's autobiography, Swings and Roundabouts. It was a beautiful read, touching, funny and straight from the heart. I would recommend it to all fans. As a fan of her late husband, the actor Kenneth More, it was also great to learn more about his life and career. Genevieve remains one of my all-time favourite films.

So if you are not already following Angela on Twitter, her account is @CarryonAngela14 

You can buy Angela's brilliant autobiography here 

Angela will also be taking part in the new Carry On Forever documentary which will be broadcast on ITV3 this Easter weekend.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and @GraemeN82 

Carry On Stars publicise Carry On Forever

There was a treat in store for viewers of ITV's This Morning yesterday. With thanks to followers on Twitter I was notified that several Carry On actors were appearing to publicise the forthcoming Carry On Forever documentary.

Amanda Barrie, Bernard Cribbins and Anita Harris were interviewed about their roles in the classic film series as well as what to expect from the new documentary, part of ITV3's Carry On Weekend this Easter.

As I'm sure you'll know, Amanda appeared in Cabby and Cleo, Bernard in Jack, Spying and Columbus and Anita in Follow That Camel and Doctor. 

I have already tweeted a link to the video over at @CarryOnJoan however here it is again here

It is always a joy to see Carry On actors talk about their part in the comedy franchise. I can't wait for Carry On Forever to begin this Friday!

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Monday 30 March 2015

Praising Patsy

What can I say about the brilliant Patsy Rowlands? An under-rated comedy performer or a much loved actress? I would say both. Loved and respected equally by her peers and the loyal British comedy audience.

Rather than put Sid or Kenneth or Joan at the centre of one of my first blogs, I wanted to put Patsy Rowlands in the spotlight. For me she was an incredibly valuable and memorable part of the Carry On films as well as many other aspects of British comedy over a period of more than forty years.

She normally worked with Kenneth Williams in the Carry Ons, always stating in interviews that she was pretty nervous about working with him due to his reputation, cutting wit and natural intelligence. Fair enough, but when it came to acting talent Patsy could hold her own. No innuendo intended. I loved her in all he Carry On appearances, my only problem being that too many of them were far too brief. In certain films she is practically a walk on - Henry, Matron and Dick spring to mind (as it were).

I don't know why Rogers and Thomas didn't give her bigger parts in the series for whenever she did get a chance she always shone. Think of Miss Fosdick, eventually the only wife of Gladstone Screwer in Again Doctor. Or Miss Withering, W. C Boggs' predatory, put-upon secretary in At Your Convenience. Or perhaps best of all, as the downtrodden Mildred Bumble who most certainly has the last laugh in Carry On Girls. Brilliant comedy timing, acting and characterisations in all of these films. 

Patsy joined the team in 1969 for Carry On Again Doctor, appearing in nine of the films until her last appearance in Carry On Behind in 1975. In Behind she rather miraculously played Joan Sims' daughter despite there being barely any difference in the actresses' ages. Not that  that really mattered when you have the cinematic glory that is Joan Sims, Patsy Rowlands, Bernard Bresslaw and a foul mouthed mynah bird (voiced by Gerald Thomas) sharing a caravan.

Away from the Carry Ons Patsy Rowlands had a long, prolific and varied career in other films, television and on stage. I remember her in the classic black and white Norman Wisdom comedy, A Stitch in Time. She also starred opposite John Alderton in the big screen version of Please Sir and played opposite Sid James, Diana Coupland and Peter Butterworth in the film version of Bless This House. Later film appearances included Joseph Andrews directed by Tony RIchardson and Tess, directed by Roman Polanski.

On television Patsy was probably best known as Sid James' neighbour Betty in Bless This House, running from 1971 until Sid's untimely death in 1976. Patsy was on record remembering how much she admired Sid and how talented he was as an actor. Patsy's television career really does read as a roll call of everything that was at all popular during her time from Z Cars, The Avengers and Jackanory to George and Mildred, DIck Emery and Super Gran. In the 1990s she even appeared in Bottom as the wonderfully named Lil Potato! One of the more bizarre series Patsy appeared in was Kinvig, screened in 1981. It was scripted by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale and was very strange indeed!

Patsy continued to make appearances until 2001, her last series being the costume drama, The Cazalets. She spent much of her later career on stage, starring in lavish West End productions such as Oliver! (with Jim Dale) and My Fair Lady. She also attended several Carry On gatherings and recorded some delightful audio commentaries for Carry On DVD releases. She clearly loved the Carry On gang, had happy memories of the work and was proud to have been a part of it all, which is always heartening for fans to hear. She was also incredibly modest about her success and her talent.

Sadly ill health took its toll on Patsy Rowlands and she passed away in January 2005. She had been suffering from breast cancer, something she kept to herself after receiving the diagnosis. She battled on like a trouper until the end - another great talent gone too soon. Apparently she had planned to retire and teach drama students. A long held ambition that was very sadly never realised.

Like so many other of the great talents we've grown to love in the Carry On films, Patsy may be gone but her wonderful performances and superb comic talent will fortunately be with us forever. 

For a full list of Patsy's screen credits please see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0746772/

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

What can we expect from Carry On Forever?

As most people will already be aware, this coming weekend sees ITV3 devote much of their schedule to our beloved Carry On films. Wonderful stuff and time for a good old wallow in some well-worn nostalgia.

As well as screening several classic Carry On comedies over three days, ITV3 has produced a brand new, three part documentary series chronicling this legendary film series and its stars. What's not to like?

Let's start with what we know. We have been promised new material, namely fresh interviews with many of the surviving stars from the films. We can also expect to see some of these actors re-visit original filming locations, something I think will be fascinating. I've read that Bernard Cribbins and Juliet Mills will meet again for the first time in fifty years and Rosalind Knight will go back to the school used in Carry On Teacher. In addition to this some recently discovered photography from behind the scenes will be shown for the first time ever. All looking good so far. 

I count myself as a die-hard Carry On aficionado and I know these films are like many other cult offerings - Bond, Dr Who, Hammer Horror - those that love them know everything there is to know. We collectively devour every aspect. Therefore I'm left wondering what the interviewees can possibly reveal that hasn't come to light already. 

Fair enough, to casual observers it will be entertaining but most of us already know that Carry On Abroad was filmed in a car park at Pinewood and the camel used in Carry On Follow That Camel didn't want to walk on the sand. These films have become such an integral part of our national psyche that it feels they've been ravaged by an awful lot of publicity as it is.

The 40th anniversary documentary, although now a distant memory shown back in 1998, was fairly thorough and featured a good roster of familiar faces - Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor, Jim Dale, June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips to name a few - although I could have done without the additional comments from "celebrity" fans. Of course sadly we've lost even more cast members since 1998 so there will be some noticeable gaps this time around. As we also know, Barbara has opted not to be involved this time.

So who is involved? Well from the publicity doing the rounds so far we have an interesting collection of well-known actors: Bernard Cribbins, Fenella Fielding, Angela Douglas, Liz Fraser, Shirley Eaton, Juliet Mills, Jim Dale, Rosalind Knight, Valerie Leon, Amanda Barrie, Anita Harris, Sally Geeson and June Whitfield. I've also heard that we may hear from Kenneth Connor's son, Jeremy. 

All good as far as I'm concerned. Any special requests? I'd love them to track down Julian Holloway, great in so many Carry On supporting roles; Gail Grainger who played Miss Plunkett in Abroad and seems to have vanished off the face of the earth and a reunion for Richard O'Callaghan, Kenneth Cope and Jacki Piper from At Your Convenience would be lovely. As the programme makers have spoken to Kenneth's son it would also make sense to interview the children of other stars, for example Peter Butterworth's son Tyler as well as Hattie Jacques' son and Sid James' children too. We will see what the three episodes bring up.

Despite minor niggles, anything new that focuses on my favourite British comedy films has to be a good thing. I've set my recorder for the Easter weekend and I can't wait to wallow in classic clips and reconnect with some wonderful comedy performers.

The Carry On Weekend kicks off this Friday morning on ITV3. The documentary Carry On Forever begins on Friday evening at 9pm, running at the same time over three nights.

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan

Just Jim Dale

Carry On legend Jim Dale is bringing his one man show to London this year. Jim starred in 10 of the films in their 1960s heyday before returning for Carry On Columbus in 1992.

The show will concentrate on Jim's incredible 70 years in show business and as well as covering his Carry On appearances in the likes of Cowboy, Don't Lose Your Head and Doctor, it will feature reminiscences on his many other film and theatre credits both here and in the United States where he has been based for many years. 

Jim Dale is one of only a handful of proper Carry On legends still with us these days and as he spends much of his time in America this is a rare chance to see Dr Nookey himself in the flesh on the London stage.

The show, entitled Just Jim Dale, will be playing at London's Vaudeville Theatre from 26 May until 20 June. Tickets are on sale now from the usual theatre websites or directly from justjimdale.com 

Wouldn't it be nice to see Jim reunited with some of his Carry On co-stars on stage? I wonder if Barbara Windsor or Angela Douglas will be in attendance?

I've always had a soft spot for our Jim so hope to make it along to one of his shows.

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Sunday 29 March 2015

Carry On Forever Weekend TV Schedule

As all Carry On fans will know, ITV3 is devoting the Easter Bank Holiday weekend to all things Carry On. The jewel in the crown will be the much heralded, brand new Carry On Forever three part documentary, narrated by Martin Clunes.

So what's happening? Here's some of the information I have:

Friday 3 April:

07.55 - Carry On Don't Lose Your Head
09.45 - That's Carry On
11.40 - Carry On Screaming
13.35 - Carry On Again Doctor
15.25 - Carry On Matron
17.15 - Carry On Henry
19.05 - Carry On Jack

21:00 - Carry On Forever Documentary - Part 1 (featuring Bernard Cribbins, Juliet Mills, Liz Fraser, Shirley Eaton and Rosalind Knight).

22.00 - Carry On Cruising

Saturday 4 April:

07.40 - Carry On At Your Convenience
09.30 - Carry On Loving
11.20 - Carry On Jack
13.10 - Carry On Cowboy
15.10 - Carry On Screaming
17.05 - Carry On Follow That Camel
19.05 - Carry On Cleo

21:00 - Carry On Forever Documentary - Part 2

22:00 - Carry On Camping

Sunday 5 April:

08.05 - Carry On Cruising
09.55 - Carry On Again Doctor
11.45 - Carry On Henry
13.35 - Carry On At Your Convenience
15.25 - Carry On Loving
17.15 - Carry On Matron
19.05 - Carry On Up The Jungle

21:00 - Carry On Forever Documentary - Part 3

22:00 - Carry On Girls 

So what do you think of the schedule? Any films you think should be included that aren't? Comment below!

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Bless This House at the Museum of Comedy

Another interesting event for Carry On and British comedy fans in general. On 26 April, the comedy historian Robert Ross will host a memorable event at the Museum of Comedy in London.

39 years to the very day that comedy legend Sid James sadly passed away, two co-stars from his last TV series, Bless This House, will be reunited on stage. Robin Stewart and Sally Geeson, who played Sid's on-screen children will discuss their own careers as well as sharing memories of the much missed Sid.

Sally Geeson is no stranger to Carry On films herself, having appeared in both Carry On Abroad and Carry On Girls.

Tickets for this event can be purchased via the Museum of Comedy website

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Carry On Screaming with Fenella!

If you are a fan of the classic comedy film Carry On Screaming, keep Saturday 13 June free! 

The Cinema Museum in London is hosting a special screening of the film followed by a chance to meet one of the stars, the wonderful, iconic Fenella Fielding! 

Fenella starred as Kenneth Williams' sister Valeria in Screaming and it's up there with my favourite Carry On performances ever! The film also saw Harry H Corbett make his one and only Carry On appearance. 

The film starts at 5pm with Fenella making an appearance from 7.30. Tickets for the event can be purchased viva the Cinema Museum's website 

It should be a great evening. Altogether now, Frying Tonight!

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Carry On Blogging!

I've been tweeting about the Carry On films for nearly a year now and while I've loved sharing photos, clips and opinions with all my lovely followers, I felt it was time to expand on 140 characters with some proper blogs. So here we go.

I have absolutely adored the Carry On films since I was a child. I clearly remember my first Carry On film experience. After digging about in a bargain bin in Woolworths (RIP) I came upon a video of Carry On Doctor. Encouraged by my mother, for she is to blame, I spent my hard earned pocket money on this comedy classic and the rest is history. 

As an eight year old child the innuendo mostly passed me by. What I loved as a kid was the pantomime quality the films had. Adults looking silly, doing stupid things but obviously having a great time. Men in drag, scary matrons, funny music and lots of people falling over. I still love all that today and yes, as a 32 year old, I do adore the odd ripe innuendo. As an adult, I've come to cherish the comedy actors who appeared in these films. They really were one offs, never to be repeated. Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas really did strike it lucky with their band of actors, chiefly Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey and my own personal favourite: the glorious Joan Sims. I'm pretty sure we'll never see their like again.

I soon became an avid collector of all the Carry On films. I set the video recorder late at night whenever one appeared and watched them religiously. I still do (ok, not the video recording bit). They represent a Britain that never really existed but sneakingly we'd all admit to wishing we could be a part of. It dealt in cliches and at times they were over the top and incredibly politically incorrect. They drifted in and out of fashion but will always be a part of our culture. They scream Britishness and they do make me proud.

I remember the moment I first saw a Carry On film on the big screen. In my teenage years I dragged a friend to a cinema in Glasgow which had organised a showing of six films back to back throughout one rainy Sunday. Apart from a quick trip out for fish and chips I think we managed through every single one. It was magic. A few years later, before the world of work came calling I made a joyful geeky pilgrimage around some of the locations used in the Carry Ons. We visited Pinewood Studios where of course all 31 films were made. We drove round Pinewood Green, featured in many of the films. We visited Maidenhead Town Hall (Doctor, Again Doctor, Behind); I had my picture taken outside the Wedded Bliss Agency in Windsor and the church used in Carry On Matron. It was anorak time and I adored it. I also took the opportunity to do some blue plaque spotting, tracking down Sid's in Ealing, Kenneth Williams' near Great Portland Street, Joan's in Kensington and Hattie Jacques' out at Earls Court.

So enough of my geeky recollections for now. What about this blog? Well I will use it to natter on about all things Carry On. The films themselves, the actors involved, my views, opinions and any interesting tit bits I can find. I'll also encourage feedback and comments from any fellow Carry On aficionados out there - so get in touch via Twitter or leave a comment here on the blog. 

So Carry On Tweeting, Carry On Following and Carry On Commenting! 

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan