Friday 15 April 2016

Remembering Kenneth Williams

Twenty eight years ago today we lost a comic genius. Kenneth Williams, the gifted comic actor and star of the Carry Ons, Hancock's Half Hour and Round The Horne, died on 15 April 1988.

I don't want to dwell on the issues that surround his passing. They have been discussed endlessly since his death at the age of just 62. I want to remember Kenneth for his incredible ability to entertain, amuse and make us laugh until we cry. It saddens me a great deal that such a talented, intelligent individual was never really able to relax and enjoy the pleasure he brought to so many over a career spanning forty years.

I have always adored Kenneth Williams. As a child he made me hoot with laughter. As a teenager his diaries made me smile, made me cry and most of all, made me think. 
His diary and letter writing talent is unsurpassable and I would recommend that everyone takes the time to read those books. They are hilarious, thought-provoking, challenging and infuriating. Above all else, there is an intimacy and a sadness that is tangible. Even after all these years they have still not lost their impact.

Kenneth Williams is a British comedy legend. He achieved great things and was a star adored by so many. He was a restless spirit who never really got what he wanted from life, indeed life was something of a disappointment to him. This saddens me but I honestly think we can take great comfort from his glorious performances on film, television and on radio. 

I used to pass by the barbers shop in Marchmont Street, where his father worked and he grew up in the flat above, on a daily basis on my way to work. I will never forget the first time I looked up and caught sight of his famous blue plaque commemorating a life that brought happiness to so many. I often wonder what he would make of it all today.

So many who knew him, from huge stars like Maggie Smith to next door neighbours and University student pen-friends have spoken of the joy he brought to their lives and of how grateful they are for knowing him. Although he may not have been happy with areas of his life and work, surely the fact he is still so fondly and touchingly remembered is the greatest achievement of all?

He was a true original. There will never, ever be another Kenneth Williams. 

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