Friday 22 April 2016

Joan Carries On ... as Joan Fussey


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 Joan's role in one of the most famous, popular and successful films in the series: Carry On Camping. The second film to be made in 1968, both Camping and Khyber were the highest grossing films of the year - Camping beating Khyber to the top spot. Camping is of course a contemporary set film following Khyber's period costume romp. Joan is again at the forefront of the action in Camping and again plays opposite Sid James. The producers had cottoned on to the pairs' chemistry following their scenes together in Cowboy and from then on Sid and Joan would work regularly together in the series.


The basic premise of Carry On Camping is a group of misfits who journey to and then descend on Peter Butterworth's Paradise Camp Site. As well as the girls from Chayste Place finishing school (headed by Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques), Charles Hawtrey's Charlie Muggins and Peter and Harriet Potter (Terry Scott and Betty Marsden), Sid Boggle and Bernie Lugg take their girlfriends Joan and Anthea (Joan and Dilys Laye) for a holiday in the outdoors. Of course Sid has a scheme and that scheme is to encourage their girlfriends to indulge in a nudist holiday. Crossed wires are involved however and the campsite Sid thinks is nudist turns out to be anything else but. Soon Sid and Bernie are distracted by the arrival of Babs and Fanny from Chayste Place before they realise they are better off with Joan and Anthea at the end of the picture.

So much of Carry On Camping has made its way into the public consciousness and it has become a rights of passage film for many of us. Much of the publicity for the film focused on Barbara's bra-popping exercise scene however Joan's role is still worth checking out. On the face of it, Joan Fussey is just another nagging girlfriend however there is much more to it than that. I absolutely love the foursome set up of Sid, Bernard, Joan and Dilys. They all work so well together and the scenes of them in the car together are a joy. You can tell the four actors all got on and had worked together many times before. Joan and Dilys in particular were extremely believable as best friends, probably because the two actresses were life-long friends in real life. There is great chemistry and warmth in their scenes together.


The first time we meet Joan in Camping is right at the start of the film. Sid has taken the gang to the pictures to see a nudist film. While Sid laps it up, Bernie is distinctly uncomfortable and Dilys spends the scene trying not to be sick! Joan is vociferous in her disapproval of the proceedings and the dialogue between Joan and Sid is superb from the off! They really hit the ground running and establish the backbone of the film in the first few minutes. I also love the early scene at Joan's mothers' house when she warns the girls about the men they are socialising with. Amelia Bayntun was a wonderful supporting actress in the Carry Ons and her role as Mrs Fussey was her first part in the series. She works well with the two girls and the kitchen scene is straight out of a domestic sitcom. 

Sadly Joan is rather sidelined once Barbara comes on the scene however towards the end of the film Sid sees the error of his ways. The ending of Camping is sublime as Joan and Dilys make the blokes see that what they really want has been right under their noses the whole time. As Dilys sees Joan's mother off after a surprise visit, the two couples finally get down to business!


Joan's role in Carry On Camping is far less showy and much more down to earth than her previous part in Khyber as Lady Joan Ruff-Diamond. That is the beauty of Joan's roles in the series though. Her versatility meant she was equally adept at period roles and contemporary set films - she played dowdy and glam, posh and common and all were believable and perfectly pitched. 

Are you a fan of Joan's role in Carry On Camping? 

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