Monday 1 June 2015

Whatever Happened To ... Michael Nightingale?

I have been running an occasional series of blogs looking at some of the semi-regular actors who appeared in the Carry On films. The Carry Ons always boasted superb casts of experienced comedy actors however some of these faces, while immediately recognisable to us, never quite received the attention they deserved.

So far I have blogged about Esma Cannon, Marianne Stone, Carol Hawkins, June Jago and Peter Gilmore. Today I'm going to focus on another familiar face in the series, Michael Nightingale.

Michael Nightingale is an unsung hero of the Carry Ons in the truest sense of the word. I will make it clear straight away that very little information is available on this actor, however the fact he appeared in some shape or form in thirteen films in the series speaks for itself. He was never a star, never even a real supporting player but he still appeared in more Carry Ons than some of the regular stars. Some of his appearances went uncredited, others were brief cameos but his face is still instantly recognisable to Carry On fans.

Nightingale made his first appearance in Carry On Regardless in 1961. He played a guest at the wine tasting which memorably featured a rather drunken Joan Sims! Two years later he was back, this time playing a businessman who hires Amanda Barrie to drive him in her capacity as a Glab Cab Driver. Later the same year Michael was back in a brief role as a Town Crier in Carry On Jack. The following year he popped up as a caveman in Carry On Cleo. In Carry On Cowboy, released in 1965, Nightingale again had a blink and you'll miss it turn as Stodge City's Bank Manager.

In the period romp Don't Lose Your Head, Michael Nightingale again went uncredited, this time playing a man Joan Sims dances with when attempting to locate the Black Finger Nail. In early 1967 he filmed a small role as the aptly named Nightingale, butler to Sir Cyril Ponsonby in Follow That Camel. In Carry On Camping, released in 1968, Nightingale had one of his most memorable roles as the cinema patron continually disrupted by Sid James and co during the nudist film he is trying to watch. Michael Nightingale then had a gap until his next appearance in a Carry On. In late 1971 he appeared as Pearson, a medical consultant who Kenneth Williams goes to for some rather intriguing advice!

In Carry On Girls, Michael again pops up in a tiny role as a misunderstood Tube passenger opposite Valerie Leon. The following year, 1974, he makes an appearance as Squire Trelawney at the local parish jumble sale. In 1976, Nightingale was one of a few familiar faces to pitch up for Carry On England. He appears in the opening scene with Peter Butterworth and Peter Jones. Michael Nightingale's final Carry On role was in the final film in the original run. In Emmannuelle, he plays the Chief of Police, seduced by the titular character, played by Suzanne Danielle. 

So apart from his thirteen Carry On films, what else did Michael Nightingale do during his acting career? He made three other films for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas: Watch Your Stern (1960), The Iron Maiden (1962) and finally Bless This House in 1972. He also notched up appearances in Mutiny On The Buses, The Return Of The Pink Panther and Ice Cold In Alex. 

On television, Michael Nightingale made his first appearance in the television play Loyalties in 1948. He went on to appear in many productions, the last of which was an episode of Cadfael in 1994. In between he appeared in the likes of The Dick Emery Show, Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV, Dixon Of Dock Green, Raffles, The Avengers and The Prisoner. He also appeared in two episodes of the Carry On Laughing television series in 1975.

Very little is known about Michael Nightingale. He was born in Brighton in October 1922 and sadly passed away at the age of 76 on 1st May 1999. And unfortunately that is all the information I could glean on this experienced Carry On actor. His face is instantly recognisable whether appearing in a costume romp or as an officious businessman. If anyone has any more information on Michael Nightingale's life or career, please do get in touch!

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