Tuesday 31 January 2017

Happy Birthday Carol Hawkins!


Many happy returns to the lovely Carol Hawkins who celebrates her birthday today. Carol was a regular presence in many classic British comedy films and television shows during the 1970s and 1980s and continues to delight fans at film conventions.

After making her name as Sharon in the big screen version of Please Sir! and the subsequent spin-off series The Fenn Street Gang, Carol joined the Carry On team in 1972 for the first of two adventures with the gang. As Marge in Carry On Abroad, she jetted off to Elsbells with her friend Lily (Sally Geeson) and found love with Brother Bernard! 

Carol returned to the Carry On films with another supporting role as Sandra in Carry On Behind in 1975. In this Carry On Camping II, Carol played a glamorous young camper alongside Sherrie Hewson. The pair led Jack Douglas and Windsor Davies a right merry dance. 1975 also saw Carol appear in two episodes of the ATV series Carry On Laughing, starring alongside the likes of Kenneth Connor, Bernard Bresslaw and Joan Sims. 

Away from the Carry Ons, Carol has had a long and successful career appearing in films such as Bless This House, Confessions of a Pop Performer and Now Now, Comrade. On television she has popped up in such diverse productions as The Two Ronnies, The Bill, Robin's Nest, Blake's 7, Porridge and Trial and Retribution. 


Now retired from acting, Carol lives in Spain. Whatever Carol is up to today, I hope she has a great birthday!

See also: Whatever Happened to Carol Hawkins?

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

Monday 30 January 2017

What A Carry On at the London Film Convention!


The London Film Convention is now in its 44th year.  The Convention gives fans of classic film and television a chance to meet stars, have photos taken with them and go home with an autograph as a lovely memento.

The next Convention is due to take place on Saturday 4 February 2017 and although it's early days, there have already been some interesting guests announced. I am thrilled to announce that the lovely Madeline Smith, who I recently interviewed will be in attendance to sign autographs and meet fans. Among Madeline's most famous films are of course Carry On Matron, Up Pompeii, Up The Front and Live and Let Die as well as classic horror films Theatre of Blood, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, The Vampire Lovers and Taste The Blood of Dracula.

The main theme for the day will be actresses who appeared in both Hammer Horror and James Bond films. So we can expect quite a few Carry On actresses in the mix. Although she never appeared in a Carry On, the legendary actress Vera Day will also be in attendance. Vera worked with Carry On star Sid James on both the small and big screen - in Sid's sitcom Citizen James and also in the classic film caper Too Many Crooks.

I will bring you news of further guest announcements as they come through!

The London Film Convention will be taking place on Saturday 4 February between 10am-4pm at Central Hall, Westminster, in Central London. You can find out more by visiting their website here

If you attend this event please do get in touch and let me know how it went and who you met!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Sunday 29 January 2017

A Fantastic Afternoon with Fenella


Yesterday I ventured out once again to the Phoenix Artist Club in London's West End for another of Fenella Fielding's fabulous memoir shows. I had last attended one of these shows in November and as each show promised new material I couldn't wait to hear what Fenella had to say. As the Misty Moon's Curator was heard to say, it was "bloody brilliant"!

The intimate nature of the Phoenix's Members Lounge makes this show really special. Although the show in November was well attended, this one was packed out with not a spare ticket to be had. As ever, Fenella did not disappoint and presented three chapters from her memoir which were altogether funny, charming, surprising and at times moving. Fenella was quite obviously born to perform and she had the whole room on her side through the 90 minute performance.

This show covered three particularly interesting times in Fenella's life. We started off with a chapter entitled "Tarts and Gangsters" (that's all I'm saying on this one!) and this was following by a chapter dedicated to Fenella's experiences making her two Carry On appearances, in Regardless and most famously of all, Carry On Screaming in 1966. It was wonderful to hear Fenella recount stories of making these films and share some tales from behind the scenes at Pinewood Studios. After a short break, Fenella was back with her final chapter, discussing her incredibly diverse stage career during the 1960s, ranging from the musical Valmouth at the end of the 1950s through Shakespeare, Ibsen, light comedy and even a bit of Muriel Spark.


As ever there was a deftness and a lightness of touch throughout the reading which is very Fenella. Her unique delivery and some amazing tales make Fenella's memoir a must have. Afterwards there was an entertaining Q&A with a variety of questions bringing up stories on diverse aspects of Fenella's career including working with the late Patrick Macnee, Patrick Macgoohan on The Prisoner and Danger Man and one of Fenella's most recent television performances in the Channel 4 series, Skins.

The Phoenix Artist Club is the perfect venue for these shows and it was great to see the likes of David Barry, Anita Graham, Vera Day, Brian Murphy and Linda Regan gather there to support Misty Moon's endeavours.

The last show in the run is next Saturday 4 February however I'm told this has now sold out. I believe there are more shows in the pipeline for June this year so stay tuned for more information on those. 


Fenella will also be appearing with Stephen Greif in their show Just a Little Murder at Crazy Coqs, London on Tuesday 28 February. You can find out more about this performance and book tickets via Fenella's website. You can also pre-order a signed copy of Fenella's audio book of memoirs over on her website by following this link

The memoirs are due out in May this year.  

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

Carry On Pop Art from Art & Hue!

With thanks to the wonderful Twitter, my eye was drawn to some brilliant new art work inspired by the Carry On films. This pop art collection by Art & Hue has been months in the preparation, with trips to the archives at Pinewood Studios, and is now online. 

The Carry On films have their own distinct style that is totally unique, beloved by many and an important part of Britain's comedy, film, and cultural heritage and 2016 marked 50 years since the final Anglo-Amalgamated Carry On film. 


British film company Anglo Amalgamated distributed the first 12 Carry On films starting with Carry On Sergeant in 1958 and ending 50 years ago with Carry On Screaming in 1966.

Delving into Studiocanal's archives at Pinewood Studios, where the Carry On series was filmed, Art & Hue has created six pop art portraits of the much-loved stars as well as reworked the classic posters of the first 12 films into stylish fine art prints. Unlike traditional movie posters which are printed on thin paper with inks which fade, Art & Hue has created fine art print versions of the posters printed on museum-quality archival card of 310gsm, made from 100% cotton, using pigment inks which last lifetimes. Based on the first 12 Carry On films, all of the prints come in three sizes and 16 colour options, are available with or without cast billing, with most using (or remixing) the original poster imagery, and some re-imagined.

Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, and Barbara Windsor (Dame Babs) have been given the Art & Hue treatment featuring Art & Hue's signature halftone style (halftone is an age-old technique that uses dots to make up the printed image, similar to newspapers or comic books). to create a collection of pop art portraits, also available in three sizes & 16 colours to choose from to fit into any design scheme. 

You can find out more about this stunning new art work and purchase some via the Art & Hue website: http://artandhue.com/carryon/

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

Friday 27 January 2017

Hattie Carries On ... As Beattie Plummer


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 eleventh role in the series, as Beattie Plummer in the 1971 film Carry On At Your Convenience.

Although Carry On At Your Convenience is now seen as a classic Carry On, with stand out performances from a core team of favourite stars, an outrageous script jam-packed full of wonderful innuendo and a storyline that takes in natural Carry On territory of a toilet factory and a trip to Brighton, back in 1971 it was a very different tale. Convenience was the first film to bomb at the box office, with the working class audience less than impressed with the film's treatment of the trade unions. While Kenneth Cope and Bernard Bresslaw put in terrific performances as the union men who are permanently on strike, they are basically a pair of idiotic clowns. This was a rare miss-step on the part of Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas, who immediately attempted to regain popularity with their next entry, the classic Carry On Matron.

These days, Convenience is a fan favourite. The canteen scene at the beginning of the film is just one innuendo after the other with Joan Sims and Sid James having a whale of a time. The other highlight for me is the trip to Brighton which crams in so many wonderful British seaside moments. Chief amongst those is the brilliant fortune teller scene with Sid in drag. It's sublime. Sadly, Hattie's role in the film does not include the trip to Brighton as she is pretty much limited to the domestic scenes with on screen husband Sid. However the two form an irresistible double act yet again, delivering the goods as only they could. Hattie's character Beattie Plummer spends her entire day stuck indoors talking to her pet budgie. Husband Sid is understandably fed up with her slovenly ways until he cottons on to the fact that the budgie can predict the winners in every single horse race. 


This sets up a wonderful little subplot against the trouble at the works, as Sid milks the budgie's powers for all its worth, much to the frustration of Beattie and the vexation of his bookie, played by a returning Davy Kaye, last scene in Carry On Cowboy. As the Plummers go up in the world, we see Sid in a new car, Beattie in new frocks and even a loan to W.C Boggs to keep the factory going. These scenes between Sid and Hattie form a brilliant domestic sitcom strand for the film and cashes in on Sid's new family comedy success in the ITV series Bless This House. Hattie puts in a terrific performance, even producing a super little voice when she talks to her budgie, as so many of us do when we communicate with our pets!

Sid also spends the film chasing flirtatious next door neighbour Chloe Moore, played by Joan Sims. Sid and Joan share some wonderful moments in Convenience and this culminates in a beautifully poignant scene after the day trip to Brighton as they struggle with the idea of starting an affair. Poor Beattie appears none the wiser, however by the end of the film, having been released from the shackles of her domestic life, joins in with Renee Houston to end the strike once and for all. Beattie then takes a job at the factory, ending any chance of an assignation between Sid and Joan. The whole thing is carried off superbly by three of the most loyal and longstanding Carry On actors.


My only criticism of Hattie's role in the film is that she is restricted to a fairly small supporting role with limited screen time. It says a lot about the quality of the actress, her talent and her chemistry with Sid, that she achieves so much with so little time on screen. It makes a great change to see Hattie in a Carry On role that is a million miles away from her usual Matron persona. I just wish she'd had more involvement with other members of the cast

Having moved into a different type of role with Convenience, Hattie would be back in much more familiar territory with her next Carry On appearance, taking on the role of Matron for one last time in Carry On Matron. A blog on that role coming up next.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Why didn't Imogen Carry On?

Many Carry On fans love Imogen Hassall in her one and only appearance in the series, as Jenny Grubb in Carry On Loving. She played the role that would normally have gone to the likes of Valerie Leon and most people think she does really well in the part. For me, it's always been a mystery why Imogen wasn't asked back for further films with the Carry On team.

Carry On Loving was an attempt by Peter Rogers to introduce some new, young faces to compliment the established team. By 1970, the Carry Ons had been a fixture of British cinema for over a decade and were at the height of their popularity. However perhaps Rogers thought it was time for a bit of a shake up. Jim Dale, who had handled the youthful romantics for ten of the 1960s series entries had departed after Again Doctor in 1969 to spend more time developing his stage career. While Sid, Kenneth and Joan were still immensely popular and going nowhere, changes in British society meant there was more and more the Carry Ons could openly target and talk about, which needed younger actors. 

Jacki Piper, who had made her debut in the previous film, Up The Jungle, returned for Loving now signed up on a two year contract. Piper needed some younger actors to interact with so in came Richard O'Callaghan and Julian Holloway stepped up for more fun with the team. Julian had been a part of the films in small supporting roles since 1967 and had the opportunity to fill Jim Dale's role in Carry On Camping. I'm not sure what went wrong though as the part of Jim Tanner was eventually drastically cut back. Another female actor was required though and the producers signed up 27 year old Imogen Hassall. Imogen was already widely known, mainly for providing glamorous support in cheap and cheerful British films and television productions. Recent roles at the time of Carry On Loving had included parts in The Saint on television and films such as the horror Incense For The Damned, The Virgin and the Gypsy and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth.

However Imogen was already becoming more recognised for filling up newspaper columns with gossip from her appearances at celebrity parties and film premieres. This would be a battle Imogen would fight for the rest of her career and one she sadly wouldn't win. Despite all this, I think Imogen gives a great performance in Loving and her scenes with Terry Scott are brilliant fun. She fits in well with the rest of the team and catches on quickly to what Carry On comedy is all about. Why then was she not asked back for more films? 

Was she unreliable? We all know that Peter Rogers, a businessman first and foremost, would cut ties with anyone who didn't play the game according to his rules. If someone cost him money or caused bother, he simply wouldn't use them again. By all accounts though, Imogen was the model professional - sweet, quiet and easy to love. It can't really have been that her performance wasn't up to scratch either as I think we all agree her appearance in the film is one of the highlights. Perhaps there just wasn't room for her to return on a more permanent basis? After all, Barbara Windsor provided the glamour for one Carry On a year and Valerie Leon would be back in 1971 for a run of several more films. 

Sometimes popular actors just couldn't Carry On due to other work commitments, so maybe that's why Imogen didn't come back to Pinewood to work for Peter and Gerald again. However, checking out her career history, she actually didn't make that many more screen appearances before her untimely death in November 1980. There were guest spots in three television series - Jason King, The Persuaders and an episode of the Wendy Craig comedy And Mother Makes Three. There was a one off television film, Images in 1972 and two forgettable films, White Cargo in 1973 (co-starring a young David Jason) and finally, six years later, the action comedy Licensed To Love and Kill, starring Gareth Hunt. Looking at that lot, I cannot see why she couldn't have appeared in the likes of Matron, Abroad or Girls. 

Imogen's story is a sad one as we all know. Yes, she was extremely attractive and glamorous and she capitalised on that in all the roles that she played, however she was also a talented young actress who showed much promise and a real flair for comedy. I guess we'll never really know why she wasn't asked back to Carry On again but I think it's a huge shame it didn't happen.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Carry On Voting: Frankie Howerd's Best Film


This year marks Frankie Howerd's centenary. I am a massive Frankie fan and have been since I was a small child. I'd love him even if he hadn't guest starred in two Carry On films but the fact that he did (not to mention an excellent turn in a Christmas Special) just makes me adore him all the more.

March 2017 will see several tribute blogs from me to mark the occasion and I really think we need to make a bit of a fuss. Frankie was quite simply one of the best post-war comedians Britain produced. His life on screen and off was fascinating and his many career highs and lows make for great books and documentaries. What I love about Frankie was that he always bounced back, no matter what. He continued to do what he always did, all that changed was that society, whether it be film makers, television producers or the great British public themselves, suddenly remembered just what a talent he was and how much he could make us laugh.

This poll is for no reason other than I wanted to draw attention both to Frankie's centenary and the fact that he made several great films during his career (you'll notice I've not included The Cool Mikado...) Vote for as many films as you like and vote as often as you like. Of course I've included his two Carry On outings - Doctor and Up The Jungle but I've also drawn attention to some of his lesser known 1950s films and of course his trio of Up The...movies from the early 1970s.

Frankie was mainly known for his television shows and stand up appearances but he was also an accomplished screen actor at being, well himself. No shame in that either. He was an original, a one off and we must always remember how talented and unique he was. 

So Carry On Voting for Francis and I'll reveal the results in March!


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Monday 23 January 2017

Vincent Ball Carries On


Some of you may remember the name Vincent Ball. The tall, handsome Australia-born actor appeared in two Carry Ons in the 1960s. In early 1962 he played Jenkins in Carry On Cruising, engaging in a highly energetic gym sequence with the lovely Dilys Laye. Five years later he was back at Pinewood to play the Ships Officer in Follow That Camel, this time acting opposite Angela Douglas. 

Well at the grand old age of 93, Vincent, who returned to his native Australia in the 1970s, is still acting. I came across a great article about him online in the Australian Daily Telegraph and it turns out that Ball was awarded the Order of Australia in 2016 for his services to the performing arts. With a career dating back to 1949, RADA trained Vincent's most recent acting role was in the Australian soap opera Home and Away in 2015. 

With over 140 credits to his name, Vincent made many films and television shows in Britain during the 1950s and 60s, with familiar titles such as Z Cars, Ghost Squard, Softly, Softly and Crossroads appearing on his CV before he headed back down under. In his homeland, Vincent has appeared in a host of well-known productions including Muriel's Wedding, Breaker Morant and A Town Like Alice. 

Of the honour, Vincent said:

Ball, awarded an OAM in the Australia Day honours list for service to the performing arts, quipped to the ABC:’I hope that now people know I’m still alive, they may give me a job.”

He said he was “gobsmacked” by the honour.

“I found out in September that I had been nominated and just before Christmas that I had been accepted,” he said.

“I haven’t been able to share the news with anyone but I have been flattered, honoured, humbled and bewildered ever since.

“I have no idea who nominated me but it is always wonderful to have your work recognised.”

Graduating from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1950, Ball said he had been “semiretired” since 1951.


It's great to hear that another veteran performer from the early days of Carry On still going strong. Let's hope Vincent Ball continues to act and enjoy life in Australia. You can read the full article here

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