Thursday 30 April 2015

Carry On Blogging on Facebook!

As well as interacting with Carry On Blogging on this blog and via Twitter, there is now a Facebook feed you can follow. 

If you use Facebook you can like the page and follow it for updates, links to all the blogs and photos.

The Facebook page can be found here

The Twitter feed is here: @CarryOnJoan

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Carry On Following!

Carry On ... Camping

The Carry On films are hardly subtle. They are chock full of stereotypes and outlandish performances. They represent a Britain that never existed, but we are alright with that because the actors involved were top class.

I've always thought the Carry Ons were camp. Pantomimes on the big screen full of big characters and comforting, familiar innuendos. Although many of the actors who appeared are gay icons, from Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey to Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor and Hattie Jacques, gay men and women were barely, if at all, referenced or represented in the films themselves.

The Carry Ons were made over a mammoth twenty year period which saw Britain change almost unrecognisably from a cosy but tough post-war nation to a country entering a new, more enlightened age. When Carry On Sergeant was released in 1958 homosexuality was still illegal in Britain. Hard to imagine now, given that gay marriage was made legal last year. It wasn't until 1967 that things began to change.

So life must have been difficult for actors like Williams and Hawtrey. While Hawtrey apparently embraced his sexuality with a notorious relish, Williams of course was uncomfortable with that aspect of his life right up until his death in the late 1980s. However while it is almost unbelievable to imagine that these actors were anything other than gay, on screen they were never openly homosexual. Both played outrageously camp characters throughout the series and while Hawtrey was normally the loner, playing away from the main team, it wasn't unusual for Williams to be partnered up with a glamour girl. In the early years that resulted in touching, tender scenes with the likes of Jill Ireland in Carry On Nurse, but later he was seen in unlikely couplings with Gail Grainger in Abroad and finally opposite Suzanne Danielle in several uncomfortable scenes in Emmannuelle. 

Both Williams and Hawtrey were the main proponents of camp in the Carry Ons, although they were joined in two films by legendary comedian Frankie Howerd. Again, Frankie was gay but neither of his Carry On roles exhibited any signs of this. In Doctor he had rude underpants, decorated with scantily clad ladies, removed by Matron Hattie Jacques. He was married to Joan Sims by the end of the film. In Up the Jungle two years later, Frankie once again flirted with Joan although his mannerisms and performance suggested otherwise!

Gay characters were seldom represented in the Carry Ons. I remember being fairly outraged by a dreadfully camp Jack Douglas in an episode of the television series Carry On Laughing in 1975. The first (and only) apparently openly gay couple to appear in the films were Robin and Nicholas in Carry On Abroad. These holidaymakers, played by John Clive and David Kernan, were practically bit parts in the films. While never referenced as a couple directly it is obvious to modern audiences that they were. 

John Clive played it extremely camp and effete while Kernan is much more manly, flirting with Sally Geeson's Lily immediately on meeting. Clive is then seen growing frustrated and playing away from the group in traditional Hawtrey style and of course, by the end of the film Nicholas gets together with Lily, leaving Robin alone and tipsy. Watching Carry On Abroad as a child, all this passed me by, but now as an adult it's quite awful! It is sending out a clear message as to what's right and normal, and what's not.

Apart from that, we have the gloriously awful Cecil Gaybody, brought painfully to life by Scottish comedian Jimmy Logan, in Carry On Girls. Logan was apparently mortified with this role which was clearly meant for Charles Hawtrey, who had by now left the film series. Gaybody ticks off every camp cliche in the book and it's a struggle to find anything complimentary to say about that character. I also remember a brief moment in Carry On Emmannuelle (which I've only watched all the way through once) in which an openly gay man walks past a guardsman on duty and tips him the wink. This moment comes after Suzanne Danielle's title character has exhausted herself trying to pull the guardsman. A pointless moment in a dreadful film.

The Carry On films are inseparable from camp comedy and gay culture. However while we still love them today, they very much illustrate the time in which they were written, made and released. Looking back on them now, they are all pretty harmless compared to some of the material we see today. 

Having said that, there are elements of some of these films which do leave a bitter taste in my mouth, none more so that the depiction of gay characters during a period in our history when the landscape was definitely changing. 

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Wednesday 29 April 2015

Carry On Listening!

BBC Radio Three have a fantastic new series going out at the moment focusing on some giants of British comedy. And Sid James is thankfully one of them. 

The Essay features historian Simon Heffer discussing the lives and work of a selection of classic British film comedians. Each essay lasts just 15 minutes so they are perfect little programmes to catch on the go. Sid's programme was the last in the series which also featured Tony Hancock, Alastair Sim, Terry-Thomas and Will Hay. 

Nice to see Sid is such esteemed company! The programme rightly says that Sid was one of the best-loved comic actors of his day. I for one think he is still as popular today.

These programmes are well worth a listen. You can access them via the BBC Website

Carry On Listening!

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Tuesday 28 April 2015

Carrying On All Over The Place! (Part Two)

Earlier in the week I posted a blog detailing some unusual appearances from some of our favourite Carry On actors. As my first blog was not an exhaustive list of all those I have comes across I've decided to continue it here.

Let's start off with Carry On favourite Peter Butterworth. Best known for his roles in the film series as well as a long double act with wife Janet Brown on children's television, Butterworth appeared in a host of other screen roles during his long career. I was slightly surprised however to see him turn up in a cameo role in Richard Lester's 1976 film The Ritz. The Ritz is set in a gay bathhouse in Manhattan and his based on a hit Broadway show. Peter turns up in the bathhouse as the character "Patron in Chaps" and that's all I'm saying! I'm not quite sure how Peter B came to be cast in this film. Although it is an American production it was filmed at Twickenham Studios so maybe that played a part. It was also directed by Richard Lester who had cast Peter in his film Robin and Marian the same year. 

Moving on to a more recent performance now. Rosalind Knight was superb in two very early Carry Ons, Nurse as Nightingale and Teacher in the role of strict schools inspector Felicity Wheeler. It was surprising but wonderful to see her turn up many years later in the hilarious role of Beryl Merrit, the retired prostitute and landlady to James Dreyfus and Kathy Burke in the sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme. It's such an outlandish and off the wall performance in what has become a massive cult hit. 

Now for something completely different. We all remember the lovely Margaret Nolan for her six appearances in the Carry On films, most notably perhaps her role as Dawn Brakes in Carry On Girls. Margaret also appeared in a wide variety of films and television during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Did you know that before her big break as an actress, she used to be a model? It was often the case in the 1960s that young actresses would start off in modelling before pursuing an acting career. It was when Margaret was asked to model for the opening credits of the classic James Bond film "Goldfinger" that her acting career began to take off. While agreeing to appear in the famous credit sequence (accompanied by Shirley Bassey's superb vocals) Margaret also landed the small role of Dink, seen massaging Sean Connery at the start of the film.

Finally, and continuing the musical theme now, we have the wonderful, iconic Fenella Fielding. Famed for her role as Valeria in Carry On Screaming, Fenella has had an incredibly diverse career on stage, in film and on television. More recently she has becoming something of a recording artist. Here she is, rather surprisingly perhaps, recording a version of Blue Monday by New Order:

So there we are. Over the course of just two blog posts we've proven that Carry On really does have links in the most extraordinary places!

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Sid James: Not Just a Dirty Laugh

Here is another wonderful BBC radio programme taking a look at the life of comedy legend and Carry On star Sid James.

Originally broadcast to mark Sid's centenary in 2013, Lee Mack hosts this half hour tribute to one of my all time comedy heroes. It is terrific stuff, featuring contributions from one of Sid's children, Reina, as well as well-known actors Bernard Cribbins, Liz Fraser and the late Lance Percival. Christopher Fairbank also provides a great impression of Sid and pops up to read passages throughout.

The programme covers Sid's life away from the Carry Ons and Hancock's Half Hour. We hear precious home recordings of Sid singing and rehearsing. We learn more about his life off screen, but thankfully it is never salacious. It is warm, affectionate and a fitting tribute to a man who was so much more than his Carry On persona. 

The programme ends with the recording of Sid and Liz Fraser performing that brilliant comedy song from their film of the same title, Double Bunk.

The programme is available here on the BBC website and is well worth a listen.

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Monday 27 April 2015

Carry On Voting: The Results!

A couple of weeks back I started a poll on this blog asking you all to tell me who your favourite Carry On supporting actor is. As part of this blog I want to highlight some of the lesser known but always fantastic supporting actors and actresses who contributed so much to the Carry On films over the years.

I selected five actors and five actresses, aiming for the most prolific and well-loved that appeared during the Carry Ons' original twenty year run. The voting closed last night so it's time to reveal the results!

Over a hundred votes were cast, so first of all a big thank you to everyone who took part!  There is no surprise for me when it comes to the winner. With 28.75% of the vote is the wonderful Patsy Rowlands! I think we'll all agree that Patsy was a great actress and a great addition to each and every Carry On film she appeared in. A shame perhaps that she was rarely elevated to the main team but she will also be a fan favourite.

Next up, with an impressive 18.75% of the vote was cheeky chappy Julian Holloway. Another great actor who should have been a main team member after Jim Dale's departure. Coming next was Valerie Leon with 11.25%. 

Sharing joint fourth spot are two classic British actresses: Joan Hickson and Marianne Stone. And fifth was that unassuming presence of seven early Carry Ons, Cyril Chamberlain with 3.75%. Michael Ward and Margaret Nolan shared joint sixth spot with 2.5% of the vote each. While bringing up the rear with 1.25% each are Bill Maynard and Peter Gilmore.

Other suggestions included Esma Cannon and Jacki Piper. The question is, would you consider them part of the main team for the films in which they appeared? I'm not sure!

So do you agree with the result? 

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Carry On Playing!

This is a wonderful opportunity to own something beautiful that also once belonged to comedy legend, Sid James.

Piano Auctions Ltd will soon be auctioning off an upright piano that Sid owned in the 1950s. Yes, you could be in with a chance of tinkling Sid's ivories! The piano will be auctioned off on 25 June.

Hopefully this lovely piano will go to a proper fan of both Sid and the Carry Ons. It would be lovely to bring some of the Carry On music to life once again and on a piano played by the King of Carry On himself!

For more information on the sale, please visit

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Liz Fraser in The Professionals

This is fantastic. I love the brilliant actress Liz Fraser, she lights up the screen whenever she appears. I also have a real soft spot for the classic 1970s British television series The Professionals, so when the two meet it's glorious!

Liz appeared as a fabulously fruity character in The Professionals episode Backtrack in 1979. She plays a character on the wrong side of the law, one Margery Harper. Margery takes rather a shine to Doyle, played by Martin Shaw. Liz shares some wonderfully comedic moments with both Shaw and Lewis Collins as well as scenes with the late Michael Elphick. 

It's a hilarious performance from Liz and it makes me wish we had seen more of her in classic TV dramas like this. She seizes this role with relish and makes much more out of it than was probably ever imagined by the production company or her fellow actors!

Some lovely person has uploaded Liz's scenes from the episode onto YouTube and they are well worth a watch to see Liz being brilliant and for a healthy dose of telly nostalgia!

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Sunday 26 April 2015

Liz Fraser Interview

I have just stumbled upon a rather brilliant interview The Arts Desk did with the wonderful Liz Fraser earlier this year. 

Although the interview is to promote the DVD release of the classic comedy film I'm All Right Jack, the piece goes deeper into Fraser's long and varied career and I found it fascinating. Instead of just focusing on the Carry Ons or the Confessions films, the interviewer Graham Fuller clearly knows his stuff.

Liz Fraser's roles in films like Up The Junction and The Americanization of Emily and TV parts in The Professionals get brief mentions before less well known gems are flagged up, such as a performance in Sight Unseen in 1977 and the heartbreaking Eskimos Do it a decade later. One of my favourite of Fraser's straight roles was her cameo in the classic BBC adaptation of the Miss Marple story Nemesis and it's good to hear that Liz loved doing it.

Although it is great that some of Liz's less well known but incredibly impressive acting work is being given some attention at long last, it is also a real shame that someone as talented has spent much of her acting career being pigeon holed. 

You can read the article by following the link to The Arts Desk Website

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Remembering Sid

Today marks 39 years since the death of comedy legend Sidney James. It seems unbelievable to me that almost forty years has passed since that sad day. I wasn't even born when Sid left us, but his presence still feels real and constant.

A lot of that feeling we can put down to how often we still enjoy him on television, radio and of course, on film. His incredible work ethic and output of quality work from the late 1940s right up until 1976 has helped a great deal to keep his memory alive. And rightly so.

Sid was a gifted comic actor. A lot of what he did on screen seemed so effortless and easy but achieving that kind of performance, charisma and comic timing was incredibly hard work. The fact he made it look easy just shows what a tremendously gifted actor he was. 

A lot of people today only know Sid for his nineteen starring roles in the Carry On films. Quite a legacy on its own. He was the linch pin of the series, holding everything together with a reassuring presence, turning in assured, confident performances again and again. He started off as the straight figure of authority for the likes of Williams and Connor to bumble around. He progressed to ladies man, a bit of a chancer always chasing characters played by Joan Sims or Barbara Windsor. Later on he brought in more of his family man image and that suited him well for that's what he was.

I loved all Sid's roles in the Carry Ons but he was at his best when partnered on screen with my comedy heroines Hattie Jacques and Joan Sims. It felt right and very believable when Sid and Hattie faced marital strife in Carry On Cabby or squabbled over their budgie in Convenience. Sid and Joan had an irresistible chemistry in so many of the films, sharing laughter that went way beyond performance. They are moments for us all to treasure.

Away from the Carry Ons, Sid starred in countless other brilliant British films from Ealing classics to knock about farces in the early 60s. He popped up in cameo roles up to ten times a year in his prime, quickly becoming an indispensable presence. He found great fame in radio and then television, as part of Tony Hancock's gang of comedy greats. He appeared in many television shows, nearly always as the star of the piece. 

From Citizen James with Liz Fraser and Taxi opposite Bill Owen and Ray Brooks to later successes in George and The Dragon with the formidable Peggy Mount, Two in Clover with Victor Spinetti and finally, Bless This House with the wonderful Diana Coupland. Sid was a constant draw on the small screen for decades. 

I don't want to dwell on the sad end to Sid's life. It, like so many other aspects of the Carry On actors' lives, has been raked over again and again. I want to remember all the happiness and joy he brought to us during his lifetime and has continued to do ever since. That cheeky expression, the twinkle in his eyes, his crinkly, unmistakable face and that laugh! The best laugh in the comedy world! 

So I'll be raising a glass to Sid tonight. A truly great comedy star, still shining bright. 

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Saturday 25 April 2015

Carry On Blogging!

It has been a bit of a whirlwind first month for me as I've carried on blogging. I already feel like I've been writing this blog all my life, not just a few weeks.

I started off quite tentatively, not really very sure whether this experiment would work, if anyone would read it or engage with me or if I could be bothered to sustain it at all. I've been surprised how passionate I still am about these wonderful old films, their stars, even the music. I have loved writing about different aspects of the films, sharing my favourite moments and turning the spotlight on some of the lesser known actors.

I have mainly loved using this blog to expand conversations and interactions with some lovely, funny, enthusiastic people on Twitter. It's a constant source of joy for me when someone I don't know takes the time to say they have enjoyed some of my digital scribblings, so thank you all for being so much fun and also so encouraging!

So I intend to Carry On Blogging for some time to come!

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My Top Ten Carry On Films

So I have finally reached the end of my quest to work out what my absolute favourite Carry On films of all time actually are! I really enjoyed looking at all my options, thinking through why certain films mattered to me more than others and why there are just some of the Carry Ons I could not live without!

I revealed my all time favourite yesterday and you can read about it here .

Bringing up the rear in tenth place was Carry On Behind. In ninth place came Carry On Nurse ,  the first medical film in the series. Next up was a 1960s homage to Nurse, Carry On Doctor . In seventh place came the glorious costume romp Carry On Don't Lose Your Head. And coming sixth was the classic from 1964, Carry On Cleo .

Over the half way point and at number five was that rip roaring trip to Brighton with the workers at Boggs and Son in Carry On At Your Convenience . A trip further afield (well kind of) came in at number four with Carry On Abroad . In third place was the classic Carry On Up The Khyber . And finally, in second place, just pipped by the wonderful Carry On Cabby is the glorious Hammer Horror spoof, Carry On Screaming! 

So that was my list. So what films nearly made the grade but not quite? 

There were a few I wanted to include and agonised over for a while. I have a real soft spot for Carry On Spying. I love Kenneth Williams in that film, Barbara Windsor turns in her best performance in the series and Dilys Laye makes a wonderfully sultry spy. Cowboy is also a classic, mainly due to the fantastic leading role from Sid James. Joan Sims also turns in a superb performance, looking simply stunning throughout. I also really enjoy Carry On Regardless, mainly for Joan's wine tasting scenes and also for the sheer range of wonderful comic actors who appear. It's something else. Finally, quick mentions for one or two others I particularly enjoy: Camping is a real classic but just missed out; Matron gives Hattie Jacques a wonderful title role while Carry On Loving is a real mish mash but is gloriously awful!

So I think that's about it. It's all subjective and deeply personal and over all I just love this series of films. Apart from England, Emmannuelle and Columbus, I'll happily watch them all over and over again! 

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It's your last chance to...Carry On Voting!

One of the things I want to do with this blog is turn the spotlight onto some of the supporting actors who appeared time and time again in the Carry On films without becoming as famous as the regulars.

I intend to continue dedicating separate blogs to these wonderful actors but in the meantime I thought it would be interesting to give you the chance to vote on which supporting actor is your all time favourite. I have selected five actors and five actresses who made several notable appearances in the Carry Ons during their lifespan. I know there are loads to choose from but I decided to limit the poll options to ten so the choice doesn't boggle your mind too much!

Cyril Chamberlain appeared in the first seven Carry Ons, making him a reliable presence during the Hudis years. Peter Gilmore clocked up no less than eleven appearances while Joan Hickson appeared in five of the films. Julian Holloway turned up in eight roles, starting with Doctor in 1967 and ending in 1976 with a cameo in England. Glamorous Valerie Leon clocked up six Carry Ons, most notably Up The Jungle and Girls.

Bill Maynard began his Carry On career in 1970 with Loving, notching up four more performances in the series. Margaret Nolan is well known for her glamorous performances in six of the films, perhaps most famously Carry On Girls. Patsy Rowlands provided excellent support in nine Carry Ons, with Convenience, Girls and Behind being her best roles. Marianne Stone, a supporting actor in hundreds of films, clocked up eleven memorable Carry On cameos even though one of them hit the cutting room floor.  Finally, legendary character actor Michael Ward filmed his first Carry On with Regardless in 1961 making appearances in four further films until Don't Lose Your Head in 1966. 

Please feel free to comment below if you think someone else in particular has been missed off or is due for special recognition in the future.

In the meantime, please select your favourite actor or actress from the options below. I'll keep the poll open for a couple of weeks and reveal the result in due course! 

So, Carry On Voting! 

The poll will close at midnight on Sunday!

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Friday 24 April 2015

My Top Ten Carry On Films: Number 1!

I've been attempting to figure out what my absolute favourite Carry On films of all time are and I've been publishing the results on this blog. It has been a hard task. Some choices have been relatively easy to make, others less so. It has been a struggle leaving some excellent films out! I think my top ten so far has shown a broad cross section of the films, spanning two decades and a whole lot of changes, both within the films themselves and in wider British culture.

Well here it is, the final post and time to reveal my favourite Carry On film of all time. There has been some stiff competition Matron! For me though, there has only ever been one main contender. Coming out on top is Carry On Cabby!

Cabby was one of the first Carry Ons I ever saw and certainly the first black and white entry I watched. As a child I loved the old cars, the slapstick and the big gangster car chase finale. In many ways it isn't really a typical Carry On film at all. It wasn't even planned as an official part of the series. Originally titled Call Me A Cab (which you can pick up on if you hum the theme music), it was meant just as another of the plethora of comedy films released from the Rogers and Thomas stable in the late 1950s and early 1960s. However the powers that be obviously realised they had something special and quickly released it as a fully fledged Carry On.

It is in many ways a "Kitchen Sink" Carry On, reflecting the trend for more honest depictions of the working classes and what life was really like in Britain. It was shot in black and white to give it grit and lead actors Sid James and Hattie Jacques portrayed a marriage on the rocks. It was believable, heartbreaking at times but always with lovely comedic moments running through the script.

And what a script. Cabby was the first film written for the series by the legendary writer Talbot Rothwell. It shows a definite shift away from the cosy 1950s Norman Hudis scripts. Although miles away from the innuendo-laden films that would follow later in the decade, it has a different pace, the performances are more subtle (sometimes) and everything feels more realistic. 

At the heart of Carry On Cabby is the marriage of Charlie and Peggy Hawkins, beautifully brought to life by Sid James and Hattie Jacques. James and Jacques were meant to work together as husband and wife on screen. It was just so right, believable and fabulously entertaining. Peggy is basically frustrated with her lot in life, realising she has much more to offer. Although there is a lot of love in their marriage, she feels neglected by Charlie who is a complete workaholic, not believing Peggy can amount to much other than having the dinner on the table for whenever he can find the time to eat it. So Peggy calls his bluff and sets out to prove otherwise. What follows is a glorious shift in the power game as Peggy sets up a rival cab company, Glam Cabs. Enlisting the help of Flo (Esma Cannon), she employs beautiful young lady drivers and sexy modern cabs to fight the blokes for every fare going. It is joyous, rip roaring stuff.

Sid James is on terrific form as Charlie. He is playing a softer version of his Hancock character. He's still hard drinking, hard working and macho but there are frailties there too. He can't cope without his wife by his side and it's both refreshing and painful to watch. Sid's best mate in the film is played by that reliable stalwart of the series, Kenneth Connor. While backing his friend to the hilt throughout, Connor also has relationship worries with the glamorous canteen manager Sally played by the lovely LIz Fraser. Fraser works really well with Jacques and Cannon as they close ranks on the men.

Charles Hawtrey has a wonderful role as Pint Pot, the hapless, accident prone new recruit who is forever breaking things, creating embarrassing situations with passengers and careering about on his scooter. Hawtrey excels in this part and together with James features in a lovely running gag with an expectant father (the first Carry On for Jim Dale) who's wife doesn't know whether she is coming or going! 

The film, without a doubt, belongs to Hattie Jacques. It is widely known as her favourite role in the series and you can see why. For once she is not the harridan. She is not the stern Matron. She is portraying a smart, sexy, sensitive, intelligent, multi-layered character. Most of all it gives Hattie something proper to act. For most of her long, successful career Jacques was pigeon-holed as the Matron or the funny fat lady. It must have been endlessly frustrating for someone so talented and with so much more to give. While Cabby might just be another Carry On film in the series for some, it at least allowed viewers to see a different side to Hattie and different aspects of her terrific acting talent.

There are also some lovely supporting turns. Milo O'Shea appears in his only Carry On as new taxi driver Len. Scottish actress Renee Houston has a cameo as the owner of the Cab Driver's Cafe Sid and the others are often seen in. Norman Chappell pops up throughout as the irritating shop steward. Bill Owen, in his last role in the series plays Smiley in a few opening scenes. Finally, we get an eye catching appearance from the future Cleo herself, the superb Amanda Barrie as Glam Cab driver Anthea. Barrie is wonderful every time she appears, from the initial Glam Cab drivers line up, her first meeting with Sid and Charles in the cafe to her scenes perched on the bonnet of her cab while an old man changes her tyre. Hilarious stuff.

In the end all is well. Jacques and Fraser are kidnapped by nasty Peter Gilmore and his band of crooks and it is up to Sid, Kenneth and Charles to track them down and rescue the damsels in distress. By the end of the film warring couples are reunited and Charlie and Peggy have some unexpected but lovely news too. Yes I know there are some obvious absentees - no Kenneth Williams or Joan Sims. While it might seem odd to have my favourite Carry On be a film without two of my favourite actors, Cabby just works so well that I don't really miss those that don't appear. 

The film leaves you with a warm, satisfied glow. Yes, I know life doesn't work out that way most of the time but the film has shown different layers to these characters. There are moments for belly laughs, moments of anger and tender moments too. While I love the slapstick, Kenneth Connor in drag and Charles Hawtrey camping about on his scooter, it is the honest portrayals by Sid and Hattie that make this film a bit special and different from any of the others in the wonderful Carry On series. It will always be my favourite. 

You can listen to Eric Rogers' wonderful music from Carry On Cabby here. It includes the glorious "Glam Cabs" theme!

And here is the original trailer for the film:

I hope you have enjoyed the countdown of my all time favourite Carry On films. I have loved writing about them all. 

Wagons roll!

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Carry On Blogging on Facebook!

As well as interacting with Carry On Blogging on this blog and via Twitter, there is now a Facebook feed you can follow. 

If you use Facebook you can like the page and follow it for updates, links to all the blogs and photos.

The Facebook page can be found here

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Carry On Following!

Sid James Looks At Life

Sid James is widely known today for being one of the brightest and best loved comedy stars in modern British history. His face was his fortune and he is still as popular today as he was in the heyday of the Carry Ons in the 1960s.

While he is known as the star of many classic British films, countless television series and many radio and theatre productions, he also lent his cockney persona to this little film, part of the Look at Life series that was produced in the 1950s and 1960s. These films were made by the Rank Organisation and were shown in Odeon and Gaumont cinemas before the main feature film from 1959 until 1969.

The short films covered events both at home and abroad and capture Britain and its people in the midst of many changes during the mid-Twentieth century. For a budding social historian like myself they are a fascinating insight into a world that almost seems quaint today. The films cover such diverse topics as the building of new bypass roads across the country and the cult of coffee bar to a look at the developing links between Britain and her continental cousins. 

The film Sid narrates takes a look at life in London's bustling street markets, their history and traditions. What better voice could there be to accompany such a film than that of Sidney James? 

It's a delightful little glimpse at a bygone era and lovely to see Sid involved in a different kind of project.

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Thursday 23 April 2015

Carrying On All Over The Place!

As much as I love seeing our Carry On regulars Carrying On, I also think it is fascinating to see some of them turn up in weird, wonderful and downright unexpected places. This blog post will take a look at some of my favourite Carry Oners in slightly strange appearances away from the main film franchise.

Let's start off with my heroine, the glorious, gorgeous Joan Sims. Joan was multi and mega talented as we all know and her career took many interesting turns during her five decades as a working actress. One of her most curious appearances was in a music video which was actually banned by the BBC. Yes, I'm talking about Morrissey's Ouija Board, Ouija Board released in 1989. Morrissey is a well known fan of the Carry Ons, famously using an image of Charles Hawtrey on one of his album covers. I'm not sure what Joan made of her involvement in this, but it's certainly interesting! 

Talking of Charles Hawtrey, he crops up in a truly bizarre British film from the swinging sixties, Zeta One. I admit I've not had the pleasure of this one myself, but I've heard enough about it to know it's a bonkers mix of comedy, science fiction and soft porn. Charles is cast as a rather camp henchman to James Robertson Justice. Also appearing in the film are future Carry On actresses Valerie Leon and Carol Hawkins. Here's the trailer, make of it what you will!

On a lot safer ground now, the lovely Julian Holloway, supporting player in many Carry Ons, cropped up in loads of classic British television in the 70s and 80s. One of my all time favourite novels is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Adapted for BBC television in the late 1970s, this version is, as far as I am concerned, the best ever. Starring Jeremy Brett, Anna Massey and Joanna David, Julian appears as the drunken Jack Favell and he is superb. Also keep your eyes peeled for Elspeth March, as Mrs van Hopper. Elspeth appeared in two Carry Ons, Don't Lose Your Head and Again Doctor. 

Finally for today and also featuring Julian Holloway, we go back to the bizarre. In 1980 Julien Temple wrote and directed a Sex Pistols "Documentary" film entitled The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Alas another film I've never seen. The film does have some curious participants you maybe wouldn't expect. As well as Julian Holloway, classic comedy actresses Liz Fraser and Irene Handl pop up in a sequence shot in a cinema. Irene apparently plays a cinema usherette. Perhaps this film is worth tracking down just for their involvement! Who knows!

Anyway, I think that's enough for now. I have a few other interesting finds I think I'll save for a future blog post! In the meantime, if you have spotted anyone with Carry On connections in strange places (as it were) do let me know!

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