Tuesday 20 October 2015

Bonkers BIlling

As anyone who reads this blog regularly will know, I'm a massive fan of that brilliant comedy actress, the late great Patsy Rowlands. Patsy added eye-catching support to nine Carry On films and is a popular fan favourite.

Although she appeared in nine of the later Carry Ons (the same number as series regular Barbara Windsor and more than Jack Douglas) bafflingly, Patsy was only credited as a main team member once, for Carry On At Your Convenience in 1971. Given the wonderful characters Patsy played over the years, I don't understand why she was never promoted to a main member of the gang.

Actors like Jim Dale, Peter Butterworth and Jack Douglas all started in relatively small supporting roles and gradually secured a place in the top team so I'm really puzzled why the same didn't happen with Patsy. Her main roles in the Carry Ons were always classics. Think of Miss Dempsey vamping it up in Loving; Mildred Bumble burning her bra in Girls; Linda Upmore battling her interfering mother in Behind or indeed Hortense Withering, the put upon secretary of W C Boggs in Convenience. All classic performances that really add something to the regular team of actors.

This leads me to another peculiarity. While Patsy Rowlands had several substantial roles in the Carry Ons, she was also often regularly and rather frustratingly limited to brief cameos or even one line walk ons. After appearing as the glorious Mildred Bumble, her next role as Mrs Giles in Dick was a blink and you'll miss it cameo. Her roles as Miss Banks in Matron and Miss Dobbs in Abroad were both limited to tiny supporting roles when the actress always showed such promise.

I can't remember this happening to any other regular Carry On actor. Patsy always spoke with such fondness of her time making these films and working with the team at Pinewood and I can't imagine her being anything other than popular with the gang, the crew and Rogers and Thomas. Perhaps she was just really busy with other roles on film and television and could only manage the odd day in some of the films? Who knows, but I'd love to know why Patsy was never a main team member and why some of her parts in the films were so small when she had so much more to offer.

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