Friday 6 January 2017

Hattie Carries On ... As Sophie Bliss


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 tenth role in the series, as Sophie Bliss in the 1970 film Carry On Loving.


By 1970 times were most certainly a changing. The cosy postwar years which launched the Carry Ons were long gone and everything was a lot more liberated and up front, as it were. After nearly twelve years of hit films, the Carry On team were still at the top of their game but perhaps there was felt to be a need to adapt and change to maintain their position at the top of the comedy charts? Carry On Loving saw an attempt at this. Basically Loving is a saucy seventies tribute to Norman Hudis' classic 1961 film Carry On Regardless. Instead of the Helping Hands Agency of the earlier film, this 1970 update saw Talbot Rothwell set the film at the Wedded Bliss Matrimonial Agency, run by Sid and Sophie Bliss. Loving even saw the outside of the Wedded Bliss Agency filmed on the same location in Windsor that had been used for Regardless almost a decade earlier.

Sid James and Hattie Jacques are the stars of Loving, running through the hotch potch action and large cast of favourites. Sid and Hattie had tremendous chemistry which had been honed as far back as the Hancock shows in the 1950s. They first appeared together as a romantic duo in Carry On Constable in 1960 with further double acts in the likes of Carry On Cabby in 1963. Although my favourite Sid pairing is with Joan Sims, Sid and Hattie were also very believable as husband and wife. Sid and Hattie provide the backbone for all the youthful, romantic antics in Loving. Peter Rogers brought in a number of fresh young faces to balance out the more established stars such as Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Bresslaw and Kenneth Williams. In the likes of Richard O'Callaghan, Jacki Piper, Imogen Hassall and Julian Holloway, had Peter found the foundations of the next generation of Carry On stars?


Well not quite, although all but Imogen would return for more films. Terry Scott was also on board bridging the gap between younger cast and the more mature stars. Hattie's main interactions in the film are with Sid, Kenneth and Charles. Her nemesis was Joan Sims as the object of Sid's affections, Esme Crowfoot. Of course Hattie and Joan were the best of friends in real life but they made for the best of adversaries in this Carry On, although sadly they don't get to share much screen time. 

One of the funniest sequences of Loving sees Hattie set her cap at Kenneth Williams' uptight bachelor Percival Snooper, who has been pressurised into getting married by his boss at the marriage guidance office where he works. Hattie and Kenneth made for a great partnership although of course Sid gets in the way as he realises how much he misses his Sophie! The scene climaxes with a flirtatious Joan Sims throwing herself at Kenneth and a surprising entrance for Patsy Rowlands who somehow manages to throw big Bernard Bresslaw out of the window! Only in a Carry On!

Carry On Loving ends with the marriage of Sid and Sophie with a right good knees up which brings the entire cast together. Poor Hattie suffered for her art during this extended sequence as the whole thing descends into a massive bun fight. While she obviously delights in popping a cake in the face of our Sidney, she then has to endure a rather chilly ice bucket challenge all of her own. Stories from that scene are the stuff of legend now and it shows once again just how far the Carry On team were prepared to go for their art!!


Although Carry On Loving features a host of my favourite Carry On stars in their prime and the film boasts some very funny moments, it's not in my top ten in the series. It's great to see Hattie getting a prime role in the film and as usual, she plays it effortlessly. Hattie would be teamed up once again with Sid in her next Carry On outing. Stay tuned for the next blog in this series which will tackle Hattie's role as Beattie Plummer in Carry On At Your Convenience.

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  1. I also loved Loving, although I missed Barbara Windsor. The beautiful Imogen Hassall was superb as Jenny. The female of the 'lovers' also appeared in Matron as Terry Scott's patient. Sid and Hattie are delightful as the Bliss'.

    1. Imogen Hassall was great and I wish she'd been in more. You're right, Valerie Shute was in both Loving and Matron