Monday 25 July 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Fenella Fielding


I was thrilled when acting legend Fenella Fielding agreed to take part in an interview for my blog. Fenella has recently been working on an audio book of her memoirs so I took the opportunity to ask her about this latest project as well as her wider career.

You will be reading extracts from your memoirs at the Phoenix Artist Club on 30 July. Where did the idea for this new project come from?

It came from my friend Simon McKay. We're very good friends; see quite a lot of each other so I think he's very well qualified to know what might be of interest to other people.
I understand your memoir will focus on experiences from early on in your career. Without giving too much away on what we can expect from the memoir, what made you want to become an actress?

Ooh... nobody really knows the answer to this... when I was little, mummy took me to dance classes that included recitations so I became used to being in concerts and shows as a child. as I grew up I enjoyed it more and more instead of less. finally it led to me going to drama school and finally going on stage.
Your first big success on stage was in the musical Valmouth with Cleo Laine. What are your memories of that time?

I'd got to a point where suddenly I felt I was going nowhere. I'd just had my first taste of success in a musical called Jubilee Girl - we'd had wonderful reviews out of town and I had good reviews, but there was something wrong with the show when it came to London it was a very unsuitable theatre and it only ran for 6 weeks... being a success in a show that's not successful doesn't help much.  Suddenly out of the blue, when I was feeling that I was absolutely no use whatsoever... to my amazement; the phone rang and it was my lovely friend, Sandy Wilson (who wrote the Boyfriend) who said how would you like to be in my new show.  He said come over to my place and that he'd pay for the taxi... when he said he'd pay for the taxi I knew he was serious... He gave me one of the two leading parts.

One of your co-stars in Valmouth was Patsy Rowlands. Patsy also went on to appear in many Carry Ons - what was it like to work with Patsy?

Patsy was the most delightful creature I've ever come across... lovely to work with.  She had a lovely part and she was brilliant. Later on, when I did a French comedy, Let's Get A Divorce, she was in that too and was simply smashing.
Like many others, I am fascinated by the life of the late actor Kenneth Williams. You famously starred opposite Kenneth both on film and on stage. Is he likely to feature in your memoirs?


You appeared in several of the Doctor films - was the experience of making them different from the Carry Ons? And if so, how?

It was different but if I can say it leaned more towards reality than the Carry Ons then that's what I will say... nevertheless...
I started my blog as a tribute to the late Joan Sims - my favourite of all the Carry On team. What are your memories of working with Joan?
Joan was very very realistic. She knew more or less exactly what she could and what she couldn't. She was extremely generous in her attitude to other actors and actresses.  I always listened to her opinions as there was always a great deal of common sense. I was very sorry that she had such an early death.  I missed her a lot.

As a child I vividly remember you playing the Vixen in the children's show Uncle Jack. Was that fun to do?

Ooh yes, it was lovely fun.  I had lovely things to do and say.  I was the wicked one... I had one of my favourite lines ever: "If that money isn't in my Swiss bank account by 4pm this afternoon, I'm afraid I shall have to destroy London!"
You are known for performing wonderful readings - I remember you delivering an brilliant extract from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. As an actor do you still enjoy performing to a live audience?

Nothing beats it.
Will the finished audio book be available for fans to buy? Will there be a print version?

Yes and hopefully.

Finally, do you ever get tired of fans asking you about Carry On Screaming?! 

No, I don't get tired of it. If people enjoyed it, that's lovely.  One can't ask for more.


Thanks again to Fenella for taking the time to answer my questions and to Simon for helping to arrange the interview. 

You can listen to Fenella's latest radio show, Pre-Punk Britain here

And you can find out more about Fenella's latest event, where she will perform excerpts of her memoirs here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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