Tuesday 28 July 2015

Wonderful Windsor

I have been wanting to write a blog about Windsor Davies for some time now, but something else always seemed to get in the way. So here it goes! Windsor was a great addition to two of the later Carry On films, providing many of the high spots in both Carry On Behind and Carry On England.

It must have been a hard task for Davies to join the team when they had already been in full swing for many films by that point. Windsor was also coming in to play a role in Behind that had been written for Sid James. The series regular was unavailable due to theatrical tours both in Australia and all over the UK. Sadly, as we know now, Sid had already filmed his final Carry On as he would die in 1976, before the filming of Carry On England.

It's very clear that the role of Fred Ramsden, the lusty butcher and husband to Liz Fraser's Sylvia, was meant for Sid. Windsor is excellent in the part, giving it his all and working well with Jack Douglas. I almost now cannot envisage Sid in the part. Windsor Davies was of course an experienced actor by 1975, having made his first film appearances a decade earlier. He was also famous for his ongoing role in the BBC sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum, which began in 1974 and ran until 1981. 

Windsor Davies was obviously popular with both the cast and the audience as he was invited back to play a leading role in the next film, Carry On England. While England is perfectly dreadful, Windsor's double act with Kenneth Connor is one of the very few joys to be found in that film. I don't particularly enjoy the subplot of Joan SIms longing after Windsor's character but the main plot gives him plenty of opportunities to bring his sitcom character to the big screen. 

As a curious postscript, Windsor Davies played a small role in the drama Cor Blimey which was shown on ITV in 2000. This drama looked at the relationship between leading Carry On actors Sid James, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams. Windsor plays an older actor in rehearsal with Barbara Windsor at the time of Sid's funeral. It's a strange turn of events given that in real life, Windsor sort of replaced Sid in those mid-70s Carry On films.

I often think it is such a shame Windsor Davies wasn't invited to join the Carry On team much earlier. He does well in these two later films, but what a shame he was not part of the gang when they were in their prime?

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