Wednesday 17 February 2016

From the Archive: Carry On Avenging!

What else do you do on a rain soaked day on holiday in England? No, you don't stage a beauty contest and take on Augusta Prodworthy! You sit indoors and watch back to back episodes of The Avengers, that's what. 

I love classic British television series from the 60s and 70s. Even when they are a bit cheap, a bit rubbish or just downright weird, they are nearly always jam packed with recognisable character actors and well-known faces from the acting world, often years before they became big names. Britain has always had a wonderful tradition of producing reliable character actors, something the Carry Ons cashed in on frequently! The Avengers, featuring crime fighting gent Steed (the late great Patrick Macnee) and an assortment of female assistants (Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson and much later, Joanna Lumley). Together they took on a range of weird and wonderful assignments. There is always a sense of the absurd about The Avengers and it's all joyously camp swinging sixties nonsense!

So how many Carry On actors appeared in The Avengers? Well as it happens, loads! 

We must start with Julie Stevens, who played Gloria in Carry On Cleo. Cleo was Julie's only film role, however she would make her name as a star of many children's television shows. Julie was one of the original Avengers side-kicks, playing Venus Smith opposite Steed between 1962 and 1963. Julie alternated for a year with Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. 

Fenella Fielding appeared in the 1964 episode The Charmers, playing the role of Kim Lawrence. It was rumoured that Fenella had been considered for the role of Cathy Gale, which eventually went to Honor Blackman. Fenella co-starred with another actor who appeared in a Carry On, Warren Mitchell. Mitchell, who had a cameo in Cleo, appeared in a total of four episodes of The Avengers. Also appearing in this episode was regular Carry On supporting actor, Brian Oulton.

Carry On favourite Angela Douglas also appeared in two episodes of The Avengers. Angela first appeared as Beth Wilkinson in the very first series back in 1961 and then returned in 1969 to play Miranda. Co-starring alongside Angela in that 1961 episode was regular Carry On character player Norman Chappell, who clocked up a total of six Avengers appearances.

In 1965, Carry On legend Liz Fraser guest starred as Georgie Price-Jones in The Avengers episode The Girl From Auntie. Liz played Steed's assistant for one week, although Diana Rigg's Mrs Peel did make an appearance. This episode also co-starred the wonderful Bernard Cribbins, in the first of two cameo roles in the series. 

Patsy Rowlands, a beloved star of nine classic Carry On films, played the guest role of Thelma in the 1969 episode Love All. Patsy co-starred with a couple of other well-known Carry On faces in Terence Alexander (Regardless) and Brian Oulton (Nurse, Constable, Cleo, Camping).

There are just far too many Carry On actors to name in one blog but here are a few more who cropped up in the weird and wonderful world of The Avengers: 

Anthony Baird (Spying & also Joan Sims' boyfriend); Eric Barker; John Bluthal; Ray Brooks; Patrick Cargill; Kenneth Cope; David Kernan; Gertan Klauber; David Lodge; Terence Longdon; Victor Maddern; Michael Nightingale; Jon Pertwee; Anthony Sagar; Carole Shelley; Frank Thornton; Wanda Ventham; Brian Wilde and Ian Wilson. 

And that's not an exhaustive list!

So go on, check out some classic British television and look out for some familiar Carry On faces! If you spot any get in touch and let me know! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

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