Thursday 14 April 2016

Should Diana Coupland have carried on?


I have always had a soft spot for the late actress Diana Coupland. I really enjoyed her spirited performances as Sid James' wife in the classic situation comedy Bless This House. As Jean Abbott, Diana played Sid's long-suffering wife on the small screen for over five years and the pair worked really well together. Teaming Sid with Diana meant that the Carry On great was entering a new phase in his comedy career and together they were sitcom gold.

This has led me to wonder whether Diana should have been invited to appear in the Carry On films. She was a terrific actress, equally adept at comedy and drama and worked solidly in a wide range of film, television and stage productions for decades. She also had a proven track record of working with several potential Carry On co-stars in Sid, Sally Geeson (her on-screen daughter in Bless This House and Patsy Rowlands, who played Jean's neighbour Betty in the comedy). On this basis alone she would have been an asset to the Carry Ons and fitted in well.


Diana also starred in the Bless This House big screen spin off in 1972, a film I have been very fond of since I was a child. The film was produced by Peter Rogers and directed by Gerald Thomas, with a script by Carry On Behind scribe Dave Freeman. In addition to some of the regular television cast, the film also featured such regular Carry On faces as Peter Butterworth, Carol Hawkins, June Whitfield, Marianne Stone and Terry Scott. Diana fitted in with the extended Carry On family with ease. Indeed of all the other films Rogers and Thomas made during their heyday at Pinewood, the Bless This House film is the closest non-Carry On to be considered a Carry On, if you follow me!

I know the Carry On films already had several well-known and well established regular character actresses in Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor, not to mention Patsy Rowlands, but I think there could also have been a nice for Diana. I wonder if she was offered a role following the success of the Bless This House spin off and turned it down? Perhaps Rogers and Thomas were concerned her appearance would link the films too closely to Sid's sitcom success for Thames Television?


Whatever the reason, i think it's a shame that Diana Coupland never appeared in a Carry On film. I think she could have slotted in with ease to the likes of Convenience, Matron, Abroad or Behind. As the Seventies progressed, the Carry Ons recruited more and more actors from successful small screen shows, so it wouldn't have been out of place to include Diana.

Anyway, what do you think? Would you like to have seen Diana Coupland in a Carry On film? 

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