Sunday 7 February 2016

Whatever Happened To ... Brian Oulton?

Brian Oulton will be a familiar face to many Carry On fans. He appeared in several of the films, often as slightly snobbish, upper class figures who were really no better than they ought to be! In this blog, I will take at look at both Brian's roles in the Carry Ons and his wider career.

Brian first joined the Carry On team in November 1958 for what would be his most substantial role in the series. He played Henry Bray, one of the patients in the ward in which the film was based. Henry was a snobbish character who actually had rather humble origins as the regular visits from his wife Rhoda (Hilda Fenemore) would reveal. Although restricted to bed for most of the film, it is an effective performance from Oulton and no doubt the success of this role resulted in future call backs from Rogers and Thomas.

He next appeared in Carry On Constable in 1959, playing a brief role as the department store manager constables Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey visit during an outbreak of shoplifting. This sets up the glorious scene of Williams and Hawtrey undercover and in drag as Agatha and Ethel! Brian Oulton then returned to Pinewood for the role of Brutus opposite Kenneth Williams' Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo. In the famous scene where Kenneth gives a speech in Churchillian tones, you can see Oulton visibly corpse and break into giggles!

Brian Oulton's last big screen outing with the gang came in late 1968 with the classic Carry On Camping. Brian appears near the beginning of the film in the role of another shop manager, this time the camping shop where Sid Boggle and Bernie Lugg visit to find out more information about Paradise Camp. Brian shares a funny scene with Charles Hawtrey and the glamorous Valerie Leon. While this marked Brian's last role in the film series, he did return to the world of Carry On once more, for the Carry On Christmas special in 1972. In this episode, entitled Carry On Stuffing, Brian played the "Oriental Orator". 

So what else did Brian get up to during his long acting career? He worked for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas in several other films away from the Carry On franchise. Oulton appeared in No Kidding (1960); Raising The Wind (1961) and The Iron Maiden (1962). Other films included a diverse range of titles: Doctor in the House (1954); The 39 Steps (1959); The Bulldog Breed (1960); The Kiss of the Vampire (1963); The Intelligence Men (1965); On the Buses (1971); Ooh You Are Awful! (1972); Gandhi (1982) and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). 

On television Brian Oulton popped up in a myriad of supporting roles over the years. These included parts in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1958); Hancock's Half Hour (1960); The Army Game (1960); The Rag Trade (1961); Steptoe and Son (1962); The Saint (1963); Coronation Street (1964); George and The Dragon (1967); two different roles in The Avengers (1964; 1969); a regular role in Mr Digby Darling (1969); Crown Court (1975); Brideshead Revisited (1981); Lenny Henry Tonite (1986) and his final screen credit in American Playhouse in 1988.

On radio, Brian Oulton is best remembered for playing the role of Cyril in the long running series of Richmal Crompton's Just William. On stage, Oulton wrote and starred in several plays included Births, Marriages and Deaths in 1975 and For Entertainment Only in 1976. 

Brian Oulton was born in Liverpool in February 1908 and made his acting debut in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. He served in the army during the conflict and on returning to Britain in 1945, resumed his career on the stage. Brian was married for many years to the actress Peggy Thorpe-Bates, probably best remembered for her role as the wife of Rumpole in the television series Rumpole of the Bailey. The couple lived in Stratford Upon Avon until her death in 1989 at the age of 75. 

Brian Oulton died at the age of 84 in April 1992. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

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