Monday 2 May 2016

Carry On Hero of the Week: Norah Holland


This blog forms part of an occasional series looking at important yet little known or publicly appreciated contibutors to the Carry On series. So far I've included a range of very talented people from both in front and behind the camera. Today we're going back in front of the camera with a little look at the life of Norah Holland.

The name Norah Holland might not be immediately familiar to some of you, however she became one of Joan Sims' greatest and closest of friends. They first met at Pinewood Studios in the early 1960s when a new stand in was required for Joan. Norah was about the right height and the right size and was experienced in this field so the rest, as they say, was history. Of course it also helped that the two ladies got on like a house on fire. Norah and her husband Leslie "Dutch" Holland became close friends of Joan, seeing each other regularly right up until Joan's death in June 2001. 

The only time I've ever seen Norah talk about her friendship with Joan came with her participation in the 2002 ITV documentary, The Unforgettable Joan Sims. In this programme, Norah spoke with great fondess about her famous friend and you could tell the pair had a great bond. Norah also shared stories about life working on the set at Pinewood and obviously relished working on the Carry Ons with the likes of Sid, Kenneth and Hattie. Norah obviously enjoyed the work as from what I can recall from Joan's autobiography, she lived life in a great deal of style alongside her airline pilot husband.

I think Norah definitely deserves to be one of my Carry On heroes of the week, for two main reasons. Firstly, because she is yet another one of those unsung heroes who worked tirelessly and professionally over the years at Pinewood to help make the Carry Ons such a success, without a great deal of recognition. And secondly because she was such a good, loyal and supportive friend to my comedy heroine, Joan Sims. 

In the 2002 documentary, Norah spoke movingly about visiting Joan in hospital in the lead up to her sad death in 2001. Norah shared how she was actually with Joan when she passed away. I'm sure Joan took great strength from Norah's presence. I know little else about Norah's life, sadly. She was born in July 1920, making her a full decade older than Joan. Norah passed away at the age of 82 in 2003.

A quick search on the internet brought up an article from a local newspaper, which covered Norah's death in 2003. While they certainly made a mistake in claiming Joan was a star of the Ealing comedies and not the Carry Ons, the rest of the piece provides an interesting insight into Norah's life. You can read the short article here

So here's to Norah -  a lovely lady and a great friend of Joan Sims.  

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  1. Having met Mrs Holland many times I would also like to say that she was a lovely lady