Monday 18 January 2016

Carry On Hero of the Week: Eric Barker

The whole idea of this new series of blogs is to flag up specific individuals who, in my humble opinion, really made the Carry On films what they were. So many of the actors and crew turned up at Pinewood again and again, working closely over the years to produce such a fine body of work. This week it's the turn of the man who shares a rare accolade in the world of Carry On, the legendary character actor Eric Barker. 

I have chosen Eric Barker as one of my Carry On heroes as he was right there at the start when the legend was created in Carry On Sergeant. He never became a regular in the films but he secured himself a niche playing figures of authority, usually from an army background.     Eric also holds a record, along with Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor in that he appeared in the very first Carry On (in 1958) and the very last of the original run, Carry On Emmannuelle, in 1978. Although quite ill at the time, he can be spotted at a dinner party in a wordless cameo.

In between these two films Eric also starred as Inspector Mills in Carry On Constable and The Chief in Carry On Spying. All his roles played to type but he was splendid at that type of character. Eric also worked for Rogers and Thomas in the naval comedy Watch Your Stern in 1960 and the music school film Raising The Wind in 1961. He was certainly in that pool of talent the production team called upon during the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

Furthermore, Eric also submitted an early story treatment in 1961 for what would become the glorious technicolour film, Carry On Cruising which was released in 1962. Even though Norman Hudis wrote the final script, Barker does get a credit in the film titles. 

Away from the Carry Ons, Eric Barker starred in many other classic comedy films of the era and of the genre. These included a recurring role as Culpepper-Brown in three St Trinian's films and roles in two of the Dentist series of comedies. He also appeared in one of the Doctor films, Doctor in Clover in 1966 and starred on the big screen with the likes of Stanley Baxter (Father Came Too, The Fast Lady) and Norman Wisdom (On The Beat).

So all in all, Eric Barker was a sterling supporting player in many classic comedy films we still love today and a linchpin at the very beginning of the Carry On story. Quite a legacy and therefore he is justly one of my Carry On heroes of the week!

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