Monday 7 March 2016

Carry On Marcia

Although the actress Marcia Warren has never appeared in a Carry On and is probably now never likely to, I thought she deserved a little tribute in the form of this blog. Marcia is probably best known to modern day audiences for her regular role as Penelope in the ITV sitcom Vicious, co-starring with Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi.

Marcia has a long list of credits to her name, including the likes of Coronation Street, Keeping Up Appearances, No Place Like Home and Housewife 49. However my reason for writing about her here are two excellent performances with strong Carry On links.

Most recently Marcia starred in a wonderful new radio play by Martyn Hesford. In Tittle Tattle Marcia played Charles Hawtrey's mother Alice. It's a superb performance of a real life character we actually known fairly little about. We've all heard the stories about Alice running amok at Pinewood Studios with the toilet paper or accidentally setting her handbag on fire with a cigarette end whilst taking tea with Joan Sims. However the woman herself is nowhere nearly as well drawn as Kenneth Williams' mother Louie. This is probably because she comes to life so readily in Kenneth's diaries. Marcia is wonderful as Alice, an old lady who is clearly losing her faculties but remains devoted to her son.

In 2011 she also appeared in the biopic Hattie, in which Ruth Jones played the iconic comedy actress Hattie Jacques. While this was a wonderful production with a great cast, I do think Marcia Warren stole the show in her role as Esma Cannon in the Carry On Cabby sequences. Her likeness to Cannon was amazing and she really did bring this brilliant comedy actress to life. Another "real life" role in which Marcia has relatively little to go on as Esma was rather reclusive. Nobody has played her before as far as I am aware but Marcia did a superb job.

Sadly we don't know enough about Esma Cannon for anyone to write a film about her life, but I would love to see Marcia Warren play Esma again. When she first appeared on screen in her Glam Cabs uniform in Hattie I really did have to do a double take. According to IMDB, we will next see Marcia Warren in the upcoming Absolutely Fabulous film. I can't wait to see what she's playing in that! 

You can listen again to Tittle Tattle via the BBC Website.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook


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