Friday 25 March 2016

Joan carries on ... as Zig Zig


This blog is part of a new regular series on Carry On Blogging. I'm going to attempt to blog about each of Joan Sims' wonderful roles in the Carry On films. Joan was the most prolific of all the actresses involved in the series, clocking up 24 films. Indeed, only Kenneth Williams made more Carry Ons. 

Today I am going to write about one of Joan's smallest roles in a Carry On film, but one of my very favourites. In the spring of 1967 Joan filmed what pretty much amounted to a cameo role in Carry On Follow That Camel, that of bar owner Zig ZIg. This role is an absolute joy and so unlike many of Joan's other roles in the series. The actress herself commented in her autobiography how much she enjoyed playing the sultry character but at the same time felt a bit left out of the fun as she was restricted to just a few scenes and didn't get to go on location to Camber Sands with the rest of the team.

Nevertheless, what she achieves with such little screen time is remarkable. Joan is sexy, dangerous, knowing and all-powerful. She is complete control and obviously dominates all the men she comes into contact with. It is terrific stuff and she oozes sex appeal. We first meet Zig Zig when Jim Dale and Peter Butterworth come looking for the foreign legion camp. She is entertaining Phil Silvers' Sergeant Knocker at the time and the pair exchange delightfully ribald dialogue.


We next see Zig Zig as she accompanies Knocker back to his barracks. As she leaves him, walking her donkey away, Joan is given the immortal line "I have a good ass, no?" Perfectly delivered, Joan squeezes every last drop of comedy out of the situation and it is sublime. She really does steal scenes from the likes of Phil Silvers and it is a joy to watch. Zig Zig is very much a man's woman which becomes evident when Anita Harris comes on the scene as exotic belly dancer Cork Tip. Zig Zig is obviously put out by her younger, nubile rival and spits her animosity from the bar. Cracking stuff!

Sadly we don't get much more of Joan in this film. She does however have one final, brilliant scene opposite the wonderful Kenneth Williams as Commandant Burger. Zig Zig has been called in to give evidence on the whereabouts of Sergeant Knocker who is absent without leave. During a brief scene, Joan dazzles with her raunchy, raw performance culminating in a rather lewd proposition for Williams' Burger! It doesn't get much better than this!


Perhaps the character of Zig Zig was so strong that she couldn't feature any more prominently in Follow That Camel. It is still one of my favourite performances from Joan and the actress clearly relishes it. When you consider how different this part is from the likes of the shrewish Emily Bung in Screaming and the mousy, hard of hearing Chloe Gibson in the next film, Carry On Doctor, it demonstrates just what an accomplished and versatile comedy actress Joan Sims was. 

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