Sunday 9 April 2017

The A - Z of Carry On Characters - C is for ...


This is part of a new series for Carry On Blogging looking at some of the best and most memorable characters in the Carry On films. I have already written a series looking at some of the best remembered supporting actors and this will be a similar A-Z format but based on my favourite character names.

Let's continue on today with C and first of all, and C is for Cleo! I have to start this blog with Amanda Barrie's definitive performance as Cleopatra in the classic Carry On Cleo in 1964. For a generation, Amanda's role is the best Cleopatra to ever hit the big screen, pulling the rug from under the much more expensive and sober turn by Elizabeth Taylor in the epic Cleopatra.

Amanda's Cleo steals many a scene in Carry On Cleo. She portrays the Egyptian Queen as delightfully dippy, her big expressive eyes and wonderful comic timing more than a match for her co-stars Sid James and Kenneth Williams. Spending most of the film in a big bath full of semi-skimmed, Amanda manages to be both stunningly glamorous and extremely funny. In a cast dominated by male comedy actors, she holds her own with ease. I'm always amazed this role didn't lead to many further film roles for Barrie, but rumour has it her agent steered her away from the Carry On team towards a season at the Bristol Old Vic...


At the heart of Cleo is the relationship between Amanda and Sid James. They just have the best screen chemistry together. Talbot Rothwell's blistering script is in very safe hands and the lines come thick and fast. Every scene between the pair is an absolute classic and Amanda has confirmed many times that the pair had a riot together, clearly getting on very well, to the extent that on one occasion they laughed so much that Gerald Thomas sent them home! Surely a rarity in the budget-conscious Carry Ons!

C is also for...


...Corporal Copping, the right hand man of Sergeant Grimshawe, played by Bill Owen in the very first Carry On, Sergeant in 1958;


...Miss Cooling, the nervous yet faithful assistant to Sid's Bert Handy at the Helping Hands Agency in Carry On Regardless, played of course by the magnificent Esma Cannon;


...Charles Coote, the flamboyant toilet designer played by Charles Hawtrey in Carry On At Your Convenience;


...Charlie, the barman at Belle's saloon brought to life by reliable character actor Percy Herbert in Cowboy;

...Carol, the flirty young camper, who together with friend Sandra, leads Ernie and Fred a merry dance in Carry On Behind. Played by Sherrie Hewson;


...Captain Clark, the first role for Hattie Jacques in a Carry On, in the very first - Sergeant in 1958;


...Claude Chumley, the assistant to ornithologist Professor Tinkle which saw Kenneth Connor return to the Carry Ons in Up The Jungle in 1969;


...Carstairs, the handsome secret agent and one of countless different roles for the versatile Jim Dale in Carry On Spying;


...Flo Castle, the young lady in search of a husband in Carry On Cruising, the role meant for Joan Sims which eventually brought Dilys Laye to the Carry On team;

and finally the fiendish Dr Crow, the nemesis of Desmond Simkins and Co in Carry On Spying - played by Judith Furse and dubbed by John Bluthal (!)


Stay tuned for the next in this series when we tackle more memorable Carry On characters. And if you can think of any more, get in touch!

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

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