Thursday 29 September 2016

The A - Z of Carry On Supporting Actors: Ambrosine Phillpotts


This is the latest in a brand new series for Carry On Blogging. It might be slightly ambitious, but I'm going to attempt to do a run through the alphabet of some of the more interesting Carry On supporting actors. One of the reasons I set up this blog was to turn the spotlight on some of the lesser known Carry On actors who nevertheless played an important role in the success of the film series. 

Today we continue with the next letter in the alphabet, P and P is for Ambrosine Phillpotts. 

Carry On films: Ambrosine appeared in two early black and white Carry Ons, first of all playing Yoki's Owner in Carry On Regardless in 1960 and then three years later playing the Aristocratic Lady opposite Sid James' cab driver in Carry On Cabby.

Also appeared in: Ambrosine worked for Rogers and Thomas again in the music school comedy Raising The Wind in 1961. She also played Sir Lancelot Spratt's wife in the 1960 comedy film Doctor in Love, produced by Peter's wife Betty Box and directed by Gerald's brother Ralph Thomas.

Best known for: The Times once said: "She was one of the last great stage aristocrats, a stylish comedienne best known for playing on stage and screen a succession of increasingly 'grandes dames' with an endearing mixture of Edwardian snobbery and eccentric absent-mindedness". Her most famous roles were in the films Room At The Top (1959) and Beserk! (1967 - opposite Joan Crawford). On television she played Lady Helen for seven years in the series Hadleigh.

Did you know: An established and much-respected theatre performer, Ambrosine played Lady MacBeth at the young age of just 19.


What are they up to now: Sadly Ambrosine Phillpotts passed away at the age of 68 in October 1980. Her last credited screen appearance was as Mrs Mowbray in the 1980 film The Wildcats of St Trinian's.

Stay tuned for the next entry in my A - Z of Carry On Supporting Actors! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

Wednesday 28 September 2016

A George and Mildred Reunion at the Misty Moon!

The Misty Moon Film Society has teamed up with the Cinema Museum to bring fans of the classic sitcom George and Mildred a very special treat on Saturday 15 October!
George and Mildred is a 1980 British comedy film directed by Peter Frazer Jones. It was an adaptation of the television series of the same name with Yootha Joyce and Brian Murphy reprising their television roles as the title characters. It was written by Dick Sharples and directed by Peter Frazer Jones.

Mildred decides that she and George will celebrate their wedding anniversary in style at a swanky London hotel – however unhappy George might be with the cost. “I’m a traffic warden, not Aristotle Onassis”, he tells her. But on arrival, George is taken for a ruthless hit-man by a shady businessman, Stratford Johns, who wants a rival eliminated with the help of his hapless nephew, Elvis, played by David Barry. Mildred remains blissfully ignorant of the resulting chaos.

For the first time, Misty Moon has brought together Brian Murphy (George Roper), David Barry (Elvis), Norman Eshley (Jeffrey Fourmile) and Nicholas Bond Owen (Tristram Fourmile) for a special Q&A, with the wonderful Linda Regan as guest MC.

There will be a paid signing after the Q&A.

This event will be preceded by a screening of George and Mildred at 18.00. A separate ticket is required – details here.

Doors open at 19.00, for a 20.00 start. Refreshments will be available in the licensed cafe/bar.


Tickets in advance £14 (£13 concessions). On the door £15 (£14 concessions).

Advance tickets may be purchased from Billetto, or direct from the Museum by calling 020 7840 2200 in office hours.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Tears, Treachery and Just A Little Murder...


Fenella Fielding is proving to be very busy at the moment. As well as further performances of her forthcoming memoir she will also be performing in Tears, Treachery and Just A Little Murder at London's St James Theatre on Wednesday 5th October.

Join Fenella Fielding and Stephen Greif on a tempestuous odyssey through a startlingly modern world of men and gods, an epic journey embracing seduction and loss, jealousy and cunning, tears, treachery and just a little murder…

Lust and longing; laughter; pathos; anger; terror; tears: the Greeks knew all there is to know about human passions. And they wrote about them vividly in poetry and drama. Now, in David Stuttard’s vibrant very speak-able English translations, the legendary Fenella Fielding and Stephen Greif make these emotions live again.

[City Hall performance] ‘By far the most moving was the veteran actress Fenella Fielding’s rendering of Hecuba’s lament over the body of her grandson Astyanax, hurled by the victorious Argives from the battlements of Troy. The words, from Euripides’ The Trojan Women, are at the extreme limits of pathos. As Fielding delivered them, they were not only almost unbearably moving, but utterly relevant to the slaughter of innocents now carrying on in Syria and Iraq.’ (Harry Eyres, Financial Times 2014)

Fenella Fielding (Carry On films and 6 decades on the stage including Valmouth and Pieces of Eight)
Stephen Greif (Blakes 7, Citizen Smith, Royal Shakespeare Co and National Theatre).

You can buy tickets for this very special performance here 

Fenella will be at the St James Theatre on Wednesday 5th October. The performance begins at 8pm.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Robert Jervis-Gibbons

I recently caught up with super fan Robert Jervis-Gibbons to talk about all things Carry On. When he's not indulging in his love of Carry On films, Robert is a bit of a political animal, with keen interests in consumer rights and animal welfare. But let's focus on what makes him laugh for Carry On Reading to find out more:

- Can you remember the first time you ever saw a Carry On film and which film was it? 

When I was a child, like many would remember I first saw the series "Carry On Laughing" on ITV which used clips of the Rank Colour films. It was mainly a filler for ITV between programmes and lasted for about 20mins in all with various funny clips and the oldest running gags. It was that became sort of a gateway to the Carry On films for me when I was about 8. Obviously, when you are 8 you don't get the innuendo but for me they were like a cartoon, with people larking about, stunts such as Jim Dale bouncing across hospital beds , jumping on a trolley and crashing through a window. 

My parents allowed me to watch the films because they are innocent fun. I reject views which suggest they are filth and not appropriate for children, this is utter rubbish. Yes, there is vulgarity but it was only when I was 14 did I realise what some of the words meant in the comedy lines. When I was 14, my parents bought me some VHS Carry On films, they were Carry On Doctor, Carry On Again Doctor, Carry on Abroad and Carry On Behind. I always loved Carry On Abroad because probably it was the last time all our beloved Carry On team were together. I have to say Carry On Again Doctor is one of my all time favourites, it oozes class and fine performances. Peter Rogers used to say that hospital patients used to feel better when they saw the films when they were in hospital. That is certainly true, they uplift the spirit.

- You are obviously a massive fan of the films. What is it about them that you love so much?

Many things. Obviously, the clever innuendo which anyone will tell you is close to my own humour. They are essentially a British institution and the humour matches that, they make me smile and laugh however many times I have seen them, particularly some of them which I must have seen thousands of times, to the extent I can reel off the script. 

Whilst it would be easy to concentrate on the fun and laughs, I think we should always remember the fine acting, the incredible supporting cast of British acting stalwarts and the fantastic quality of the films, particularly when they entered the colour era. We should remember those that worked behind the scenes on the Carry On's often worked on other big budget movies such as James Bond. With that level of experience you can make anyone and anything great.


- Do you prefer the black and white charm of the early Carry Ons or the full on saucy colour films of the Seventies? And why... 

It is a difficult question to answer. I think Carry On Spying is one of the greatest, especially with the performances of Dilys Laye, Kenny Williams and Barbara Windsor. I think Screaming and Khyber are the best colour ones, but we can never forget Camping and Loving, the ultimate journeys in innuendo, like to Jim Tanner "Are you going to stay with us all the time? Oh yeah, I go all the way" and Imogen Hassalls "I've put it in.... the sugar!" and Terry Scott's eyes! Those eyes said it all in Matron! He didn't need to say a word, especially when he saw Mrs Tucker (Margaret Nolan).

- Do you think the likes of Carry On England Emmannuelle went too far from the traditional Carry On brand?  

I never liked England. As Joan Sims said in 1998 "Go home and put your feet up love" about her performance in the film. I find that film crude, I never really watch it. Emmannuelle I actually though was funny and Susanne Danielle terrific in the role. It also has a memorable sequence with Joan Sims and Victor Maddern in a Launderette, it was almost a tribute moment, because they knew that this was it, no more after this. They were right. Whilst these films did go off the well-known innuendo, you have to think why that was the case. They needed to stay relevant and British films were getting far more crude and pushing the innuendo boundaries. Carry On films pushed taboos but in a funny way but the later films were doomed because society had moved on, and tastes changed. That's why I think it would be difficult to replicate this today. I went to see Columbus at the cinema aged 14 and I never watched it again. I refuse to own a copy, its utter rubbish.

- Are you fan of any of the other comedy films Rogers and Thomas produced at the time? If so, what are your favourites?
I'm hardcore Carry On only, but I do like the Doctor (Dirk Bogarde) series directed by Ralph Thomas, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy them.  Twice Round the Daffodils was good which is a Gerald Thomas.

- Why do you think the Carry Ons are still so universally popular in 2016?
They represent a Britain that never really existed. They also provide continuity. People like continuity and they like to know what they are going to get. Why is Coronation Street so successful? Because the characters become part of the family. Carry On films provide the same continuity and it was because the same actors were always there, Sidney James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor, Bernard Bresslaw, Terry Scott and Hattie. They are much loved and remain part of the British psyche.


- Do you have any Carry On memorabilia or signed photos? 
Yes I do. I have signed photographs from Valerie Leon, Margaret Nolan and Dilys Laye. I wrote to Dilys before she died, she sent me the most lovely letter back which I treasure. She was a very kind lady, and a fantastic underrated actress.  Bizarrely, I also own a wig once owned by Joan Sims which I bought from ebay, but rest assured I do not wear it!! I just wanted to own something that she owned and I snapped the first thing I saw.

- I set up my blog as a tribute to the late great Joan Sims. Were you a fan of Joan and if so, what are your thoughts on her career? 

Without doubt, she is my all time favourite. Joan was a sensation in the Carry On's and a uniquely gifted actress. I believe Sidney James and her still hold the record of the number of appearances as husband / wife / couple in films.  I think it is appalling she did not have any major public recognition before she died, such as an OBE or CBE. Joan I would argue had the longest lasting career, but why for such little money or recognition? Her autobiography is sad in many ways, I felt sorry for Joan when I read it. A national icon who wasn't as cherished as she should be!


I also think it is a great tragedy Joan died and was cremated without many at her funeral, and her ashes scattered in a mass grave with no marker. I went to Putney Vale Cemetery to mark her birthday last year but whilst I found the scattering site, I left a tribute near the site which was apparently removed by the owners. I even enquired whether I could help pay or fundraise for a marker to Wandsworth Council in London, but I never received a response. I find it deeply unpleasant.

But lets not dwell on the negatives. We can put these right. Her career will be ever lasting for us to enjoy and also we should be thankful for film it captures Joan at her greatest for us, forever.  If anyone were to ask, who was she? I think her performances will answer that.

- Are there any Carry On actors still around today that you would love to meet? Who would they be and why? 

I used to work for an MP at the House of Commons. One day, when I was leaving for the evening, I remember seeing this very short lady walking in front of me. She had huge back combed blonde hair. I thought nothing of it. Then the police officer said "Hiya Barbara" and I heard next to me "Hello darlin'" then that cackle of a laugh. I was so taken aback that she was walking beside me and I didn't even notice that I couldn't actually speak i was in shock. I immediately phoned my boss, an MP, and said you won't believe who I have just seen!? She said who? Thinking it was a politician, I said "BARBARA WINDSOR" as I watched her trot across Westminster Hall. I was terrified to go and say hello, which I now deeply regret. I was struck dumb. 

I also remember when Peter Rogers came to Parliament when this failed film was launched. Of course it never happened.

The new Carry On film is launched by the Conservative Party in the House of Commons.

Fenella Fielding and Margaret Nolan are two of my living favourites but I have yet to meet them in person.

- Who do you think is the ultimate unsung hero of the Carry On films? And why do you think so? 

Patricia Rowlands as I call her, or known to us as Patsy. Totally underrated, but what a much loved member of the team. I saw Patsy interviewed on Brighton Pier for that documentary "What's a Carry On?" I always think of her when I'm on Brighton Pier when she was larking about with Mr Boggs!

I think we should also remember the likes of Rene Houston, Esma Cannon, Imogen Hassall and Amelia Baytun. Supporting stalwarts of Carry On.

- As you know there are plans to relaunch the series for the 21st Century. What are your thoughts on this? 
It has been tried before. I think some things should perhaps never be remade. Just look at the rehash of "Are you Being Served?" a close cousin of Carry On. Disastrous.

- Who is your all-time favourite Carry On actor? 

Joan Sims for the woman, Terry Scott for the men.

And finally, what's your favourite Carry On film of all time? 

Carry On Abroad. It has all the bawdy jokes, an all star cast and is the last one when they were altogether. 

Many thanks to Robert once again for this lovely interview - you can find out more about Robert by following him on Twitter here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

Do you mind if I smoke? The Memoirs of Fenella Fielding

Fenella Fielding is best known for her film appearances in Carry On Screaming (1966), Doctor in Clover (1966) and Carry On Regardless (1961). She was the voice of the Blue Queen in Dougal and the Blue Cat (1970) and the telephone operator and loudspeaker voice in The Prisoner (1967). Her stage credits include the title roles in Hedda Gabler (1969) and Colette (1970). 

She’s fondly remembered for a number of appearances on the Morecambe & Wise Show (1969-1972) as well as playing The Vixen in Uncle Jack (early 1990s). Her most recent TV appearance was Skins (2012).

During her career, Fenella has worked with many of the greats and has known, or at least met, practically everybody else. She has amazing recall and can tell a story about most of the people who were special in the 60s or 70s… Kenneth Williams, Peter Cook, Tony Curtis, Francis Bacon, Joan Sims… the list is endless.

During a total of eight Saturday matinee appearances Fenella will be reading a series of chapters from her forthcoming audio book ‘Do You Mind If I Smoke?’ Each show will be different. There are stories about innocence, her struggle to get started, family strife, professional jealousies and intriguingly a chapter about London tarts and gangsters. The stories are witty and beautifully observed scenes from her life and all told in that unmistakable and ever alluring Fenella Fielding voice.

Each performance will include a short Q&A about the book with Misty Moon's special guest MC Simon McKay, co-author of the book and a personal friend of Fenella.

There’s also an opportunity to pre-order the audio book with extra goodies included.

The first of these appearances will be on Saturday, 5th November at 2.30pm at The Phoenix Artist Club in London's West End. More details can be found here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Sunday 25 September 2016

Five Reasons Why I Love Carry On Screaming!


Watching Carry On Screaming this afternoon has made me realise just how much I love this film. It's one of those Carry Ons for which the superlatives tend to overflow. Even people who claim to dislike the series or prefer a more intellectual form of comedy, bow to the mastery of Screaming. However as a blogger of all things Carry On, I've realised that I don't often watch the actual films that much any more.

Screaming for me is the series at its peak. It's right up there with the likes of Cleo, Khyber and Camping. It has a cast of firm Carry On favourites with some excellent additions, it has a brilliant script by a writer with an exceptional grasp of what was required, a superb premise and better than normal production values. So here, in no particular order are five reasons why I love Carry On Screaming.


1. Fenella Fielding owns this film. While the main cast is dominated by male comedy actors, with Williams, Dale, Corbett and Butterworth excelling, this is Fenella's film. So much so that her career since has been totally dominated by this one performance as the buxom, alluring Valeria Watt. Fenella being the legend she is, doesn't seem to mind and indeed relishes the success of Screaming. Although Joan Sims and Angela Douglas also star, Fenella gets the most screen time and makes a lasting impression on the audience, exuding charm, sex appeal and all with amazing comedy timing. It's a sublime, iconic Carry On performance.

2. The whole idea of a comedy horror is just inspired. It's not that it hasn't been done before or since but this one is just bang on. As with the very best Carry Ons, the send up involved is affectionate and never cruel. The choice of Hammer Horror is a real pleasure as Hammer were similarly low budget, popular with the regular cinema going public and an ongoing series of films featuring familiar actors. There is so much scope for humour with the spoof of all things Hammer and no opportunities are missed by the team and their excellent scribe, Talbot Rothwell.

3. Harry H Corbett makes for a superb guest star. In fact Harry is so good the film doesn't really miss the absent Sid James. Although the role of Sidney Bung was written with Sid in mind, the strength of Corbett's performance means I now cannot envisage James in that role or indeed in the film at all. I only wish Harry H had returned to the series again. Corbett had big shoes to fill but he is excellent and works exceedingly well with Peter Butterworth as his police colleague, Joan Sims as his nagging shrew of a wife and with Fenella Fielding as his delicious love interest. It's a terrific starring role. Eric Rogers celebrates this by including a quick snatch of the Steptoe and Son theme music in the film. It's wonderful stuff.

4. I love a Carry On in period costume. It always adds an extra dimension to the film and gives the actors and the script writer something more to play with. It also adds an extra luxury to the film, maximising the budget and giving both the costume people and the set dressers more to work with. I also think they last longer and don't date nearly as much as the present day films. The costumes in Screaming are a joy, with the likes of Joan Sims and Angela Douglas (not to mention Peter Butterworth) getting to appear in some stunning gowns. And of course there's Fenella's cracking, seductive red dress, which has gone down in film history. The gothic quality of the film is also spot on, with the Victorian set of Kenneth Williams' mansion house, all velvet, panelled walls and cobwebs. The setting in the local woods, complete with shadows and mist is always wonderful and beautifully atmospheric.


5. Finally, a special mention to the legendary supporting player Peter Butterworth. Always a supporting actor, he is known to many fans as an irresistible scene stealer and there are no better examples than this film. He has a lot more screen time in Screaming than in many of the other films and he really makes the most of it. A tireless farceur and a master of physical comedy, he mugs likes crazy in the background and it always pays off. His comedic gifts are on full display and Screaming provides so many examples of why he was always in demand as a pantomime dame. He acts his role with relish and it's a real joy.

So there you go, five reasons why I adore Carry On Screaming. Fifty years on from his original release, it's still fresh, funny and in some places, yes, I admit it, genuinely scary. When I first watched it as a child it did scare me. So it's a Carry On that works on many levels and appeals across two of the biggest and longest lasting film franchises British cinema has ever produced. What's not to love?

Frying Tonight!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Carry On Casting for the Beeb's Babs Biopic


More Barbara Windsor news now, concerning the BBC's plans for a 90 minute drama telling the story of her eventful life. The biopic was announced earlier this year and will be broadcast in 2017 to coincide with the colourful star's 80th birthday celebration.

Entitled "Babs" the drama will tell the story of Windsor's life both in front of and behind the camera. It will be written by former EastEnders scriptwriter Tony Jordan, someone Barbara knows well. Barbara has said she is thrilled the BBC are telling her story although, as reported in The Daily Telegraph she has no idea who might be playing her. It seems that while Dame Babs is interested in what the production will bring and what slant it will take, she is taking care to stay back from the decision making and let the production team get on with it.

Apparently, casting is taking place at the moment. I wonder who will take on the coveted role? As with the ITV drama Cilla, this will be a high profile role for whoever lands it. Barbara had previously said she wanted Sheridan Smith, however as Smith has already played Cilla Black, this seems unlikely. I have no idea whether the team will go for an established name or a newcomer or whether they will cast several actresses to depict Barbara throughout her life.

It will certainly be an interesting decision and I look forward to seeing who the BBC choose to play our iconic Babs. So who do you think would be ideal for the role of a young or indeed a more mature Barbara? And do you think the real Babs should make a cameo appearance as she did in the ITV drama Cor Blimey back in 2000?

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Dame Babs on the new Carry Ons


Dame Barbara Windsor has been speaking to the press about the new Carry On series planned for next year. Windsor, who was attending a charity event for Variety, spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about the series, old and new.

Barbara starred in nine of the original films between 1964 and 1974, returning for the compilation film That's Carry On with Kenneth Williams in 1977. She also starred in many of the ATV Carry On Laughing TV episodes in 1975, co-starred in the Carry On London stage show between 1973 and 1975 and appeared in the Thames Television Carry On Christmas specials.

In the interview, Barbara makes it clear just how talented the original actors and the original production team were and how hard that will make it for the new team to repeat their success. Dame Babs was full of praise for the likes of Sid, Kenneth and Hattie Jacques and also commented on how skilfully produced and directed the films were. While not criticising the decision to revamp the franchise so many years on, Barbara clearly thinks the new team have their work cut out, but wishes them all the best.

There has been no news on plans for the new series since the initial announcement some weeks ago however it is hoped there will be some casting news soon. Whether any of the original faces will return is still anyone's guess.

You can read the Belfast Telegraph interview in full here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Saturday 24 September 2016

Hattie Carries On...As Sister in Carry On Regardless


Having covered every one of Joan Sims' 24 Carry On roles it now only seems fair that I turn the spotlight onto another great and loyal member of the team. Sticking with the wonderful women, I've decided to focus on all 14 of Hattie Jacques' Carry On appearances. Hattie's contribution to Carry On comedy was immense. Although appearing in far fewer films that Joan, Hattie created some iconic roles, none more so that the infamous Matron, a character which came to dominate her later career.

However there was far more to Jacques than that. She played Matron in all four of the medical films but there were ten other roles to enjoy too, from a budgie obsessed housewife to an angry, aggressive Spanish cook! So sit back and enjoy a run of blogs which looks at Hattie's Carry On contribution from the very first film in 1958 right through to her last supporting role in Carry On Dick 16 years later. So let's continue our journey today with a look back at Hattie's fifth role in the series, as Sister in Carry On Regardless


This is very much Hattie's smallest role in the Carry On series and is really only a cameo. While this is frustrating for fans, Hattie was very nearly not in the film at all. By the end of 1960 the Carry Ons had been a success at the box office for over two years and spanned four hit films. Hattie was strongly identified as part of the team and as a major contributor to their success. Hattie was originally destined to play a much bigger, main team role of Delia King which was eventually recast and rewritten for newcomer Liz Fraser. The downside was less of Hattie, however it did allow Liz to become a valued and much-loved member of the team for the next few films.

Sadly Hattie was ill as preparations for filming were finalised, however as she very much wanted to remain a part of the fun, the small role of Sister was created for her. It was fitting that her scenes took place in the hospital sequence of Regardless as by then Hattie was already strongly linked with the role of Matron. It was apt that Hattie shared her scenes with Carry On Nurse colleague Joan Hickson, although the roles here were reversed with Joan playing the Matron.


Hattie's sequence is a particularly funny one with Sid James' chancer Bert Handy being mistaken for a bombastic yet important old buffer he is standing in for in the hospital waiting room. June Jago's nurse makes the initial mistake although Sid is quite happy to be known as Sir Theodore, especially when it involves a tour that takes in a bevvy of young nurses in their underwear! Hattie's Sister comes into contact with Sid and is her usual officious self although there is a brief moment, yet again when her humanity is allowed to show through.

It's lovely to see Hattie however briefly and it was obviously done to please the already legions of Carry On fans. After a continuous run of films, Hattie would miss the next in the series, Carry On Cruising, before returning in the spring of 1963 for my favourite Hattie performance in my favourite Carry On film. Fittingly, Carry On Cabby was also Hattie's favourite role. I'll be writing about her turn as Peggy Hawkins soon!


You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook