Sunday, 6 November 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Robin Le Mesurier


Robin Le Mesurier was born in London in 1953. Living in Los Angeles since 1977, his career as a guitarist has led him to work with the likes of Rod Stewart, Bernie Taupin and Johnny Hallyday. He even joined the Wombles, a British novelty rock group based on the characters from the popular children's television series. Of course, to fans of classic British comedy, Robin is also the son of Carry On legend Hattie Jacques and Dad's Army favourite, John Le Mesurier. 

I recently caught up with Robin, who took some time out from finishing off his autobiography to answer my questions.

What was it like to grow up with such famous and well loved actors as parents? 

Growing up seemed quite normal to me as they were just my parents who happened to be in 'The Business'. It got more difficult the older I got as I was bullied on a regular basis at grammar school because it was just assumed we were rich as they were on TV all the time. Truth is The BBC payed a pittance in those days. But I and my brother had a happy childhood nevertheless.

Hattie's parties were legendary, I've read a lot about them. What was it like to be around at that time and who did you get to meet?

Well now they are legendary, and lots of fun. And as to who I met, the list is endless. Obviously the entire cast of all the 'Carry On Movies', including Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas. Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Wilfrid Brambell, Tony Hancock and many more.

One of Hattie's greatest friends was Bruce Copp - can you tell me more about how they got to know each other?

It was really accidental. It was 1946 after Bruce was 'Demobbed from the army'. A friend of his suggested he could rent a small flat in Earl's Court for ten bob a week. It turned out that it was in my grandmother's house that mum lived in. They became immediate friends and later was to become my Godfather.

Both Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims spent many Christmases with your family. What are your memories of Kenneth and Joan?

They were nearly always at Christmas day with us. Kenneth Williams had the most remarkable knowledge of English history and an incredible sense of humour. Joanie was adorable, funny and very loving. Though her mother who was always with her on those occasions could be very unpleasant. But I'll not expand on that.

Hattie formed a long and highly successful partnership with Eric Sykes on television. Did you get to know Eric during those years?
 I got to know Eric very well. In fact, he was one of the first people I spoke to when mum died. (I was living in LA then, and still do). One thing I have to say about their relationship was that mum was very instrumental in the story lines and the scripts for 'Sykes', but never got any recognition for her input.

I've read that Hattie's sense of humour was very different from the slapstick and innuendo of the Carry Ons. Why do you think she kept going back to Pinewood to work with that team?

It was very different from the 'Carry On movies', she had a dry wit much like dad's. The reason she always went back to Pinewood was that the entire team were like a family to her. In fact, they would always ask her for council whenever it was needed. She really was the matriarch on those shoots.

What's your own favourite of Hattie's many performances?
I really don't have a favorite performance of hers apart from the way she was so kind to people. And perhaps 'Carry On Cabby'.

How do you think Hattie would like to be remembered? 

I think it's obvious the way she is remembered, simply by the legacy she left us all.

Your dad, John Le Mesurier, is one of my favourite actors - he appeared in so many wonderful films and television programmes over the years. What was he like to be around?

He was not the 'Typical' father figure. For example, he never made me a 'sporting person', thank God. But he loved horses and always had a tube of Polo Mints in his pocket in case he came in contact with one. (Horses love Polo Mints). But, we had lovely times at Barnes common watching cricket and having a drink there. He was a very soft spoken man and his character on 'Dad's Army' was really him. Another thing, he couldn't wait till I was old enough to take me to Ronnie Scott's jazz club in Soho. He loved the likes of Bill Evans and Oscar Petersen. I met Petersen at Ronnie's one night. He always told me he would have preferred to earn a living playing piano rather than acting. He was a very talented pianist. He was also a REAL gentleman and taught me to always say "Please and Thank You".

You have mentioned you have just finished your autobiography. Can you tell me a little more about that project?

It's called 'A Charmed Rock 'N' Roll Life'. Which it really has been. I wrote about everything above and much more. I'm told it will be published next May sometime by The Book Guild in the UK, and will be full of many stories of my life from my first memories up until today.


I'd like to thank Robin again for taking time out for this interview and for being a part of the Carry On Blogging story! You can find out more about Robin on his website

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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