Friday 25 August 2017

Carry On Blogging takes a Summer Break

I'm going to be taking a break from blogging commitments for the next couple of weeks as I take a well-earned holiday. So no blog posts until the middle of September.

Please do keep tweeting me and contacting me via Facebook or over on Instagram though as I love hearing from all my fellow Carry On fans out there! You really do make me want to Carry On Blogging! I'll be checking in now and again while I'm away so expect a few retweets and photos as and when.

When I return there's plenty more to look forward to. I'll be continuing with my new regular feature focussing on the five inspirational figures of some of my favourite blogging colleagues and friends I've met through the blog. I'll also be continuing to profile some of my favourite British comedy films to feature familiar Carry On faces and hopefully one or two more interviews too.

One of my next big projects will be blogging profiles of all seventeen of Kenneth Connor's Carry On roles. I've long been a fan of Kenneth's and I feel he doesn't really receive the coverage he deserves. So, with his centenary approaching next summer, I think it's time to pay tribute.

So keep a look out for all that and in the meantime, Carry On!  

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

Remembering Imogen


Imogen Hassall would have celebrated her 75 birthday today, had she lived. Imogen's life was a turbulent one, cut tragically short when she took her own life in November 1980 at the age of just 38. Much has been written about Imogen, mainly around her appearance, her private life and sadly, her death. I have written about her before, profiling her life and career, however as this day marks a special anniversary I thought I would blog about Imogen Hassall once again.

I never wish to dwell on the private lives of well known actors and personalities. Just because they are in the public eye through their choice of career, it doesn't give us, their public, the right to probe and pry into their affairs. I can't help but view Imogen as a tragic figure due to certain details that have become public knowledge about her life and the way in which her life was cut tragically short that winter's day 37 years ago. Despite this, and the fact that her career was hampered by the way the tabloid press chose to perceive her, I still believe Imogen brought and continues to bring a great deal of pleasure through her performances on screen.

Of course she had a memorable role in the 1970 film, Carry On Loving. As Jenny Grubb, Imogen underwent a dramatic transformation during the course of the film, making the part of Jenny almost a dual role for Imogen. Imogen displayed a real gift for comedy and held her own in many scenes featuring far more experienced light comedy actors - Joan Hickson, Terry Scott and Sid James to name but a few. Without a doubt Imogen is one of the best things about Carry On Loving, in a cast bulging with series favourites and well known guest and supporting actors. I only wish Peter and Gerald had signed her up for more films with the team.


Imogen also had memorable roles in a host of television series we still adore today - The Persuaders with Tony Curtis and Roger Moore; The Saint, again with Moore; Jason King and The Avengers. Even though we love this guest spots, sadly they did not help advance Imogen's career in the direction she hoped and indeed worked hard for. Her early obsession with live theatre had seen her train at RADA and spent a season as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She won plaudits for her part in the William Douglas-Home comedy, The Reluctant Peer at London's Duchess Theatre in 1964 however she quest to become a serious, acclaimed actress sadly did not work out. 

By the mid to late 1970s, with the British film industry suffering a painful, sad decline, Imogen was only offered supporting roles in less than inspiring productions. She was undoubtedly a talented, vibrant actress which makes it so shameful that she received this reputation as a party girl, only known for attending premieres and for showing off her figure. Despite so many sad aspects to her all too short life, I think Imogen Hassall deserves to be remembered as a good actress, a charming personality with much promise, who lighted up the screen and still gives us joy so many years after her passing.

You can read my blog on Imogen's career here

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

Thursday 24 August 2017

Carry On Blogging Interview: Derek Griffiths


The other evening I had the great pleasure of interviewing the legendary Derek Griffiths. It was quite a surreal moment to hear my phone ring and be greeted by that oh so familiar voice from Play School, Play Away, Super Ted, Bod and countless other classic shows from all our childhoods. 

Derek is another one of those actors who is quite simply multi-talented - from straight theatre to musicals, voice overs, children's television, films and and television (drama and comedy), Derek has a career dating back to the 1960s and has worked with the very best. Most recently of course, he spent a year in Coronation Street as mechanic Freddie Smith. I was keen to find out all about his experience at Corrie, but first of all I wanted to go back in time to talk classic British comedy...

First of all, I'd love to know how you got started in the business?

I was at school in North London and while I was there I got into doing a bit of amateur theatre. I enjoyed it and from that I started working in Victorian Music Hall at a theatre in Greenwich. I did that for around two years and I was lucky enough that people from the BBC attended some of the shows, spotted me and agreed they wanted me to come and do some work with them. The rest is history!

I was talking to Robin Askwith a few weeks back and he mentioned a series you'd made together in 1971 called On The House...

That was a very long time ago! I don't really remember that much about it to be honest - Kenneth Connor was the star of the show and Robin and I were the younger members of the cast. I think we spent most of the time having a laugh and a joke which was probably frowned upon by the senior members of the cast. Robin was quite a character!

...and still is! You were also in three of the Frankie Howerd films made back to back at Elstree Studios at around this time (Up Pompeii / Up The Front / Up The Chastity Belt)?

Yes they were great fun to do. Frankie was and is a legend - a very funny man. I didn't get to know him that well when we made those films but he was pleasant, he worked hard and diligently. You knew about it if he wasn't happy with the way something was going but he was the star. It was quite daunting to be working with people like that but great to say I'd made films with the great Frankie Howerd!


I wanted to ask you a bit about the late, great Sir Bruce Forsyth who sadly passed away recently. I think you worked with him?

Yes back in 1978, we did The Travelling Music Show with music from Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. It was hard work but great to do. Bruce and I wrote the script together and became very close friends from then on. He was a one off and so talented, in so many different ways. I was gutted to hear he had passed away. Bruce was one of those people who was never ill. I knew he'd been unwell and had taken himself out of the spotlight - I don't think many people other than possibly Jimmy Tarbuck had seen him near the end. Bruce was my idol, quite simply. He was the only artist I ever queued up for an autograph from which says it all. A great loss.

I wanted to ask about another film you were in, Rising Damp...

Oh yes that was great to be a part of. I was originally offered a part in the film but I was contracted to ATV at the time and couldn't do it. I was working for ATV up at Borehamwood and one lunch time they came across and asked if I wanted to film a scene for Rising Damp, so I did the part (of a boxing match referee with Leonard Rossiter and Don Warrington) in my lunch hour, running over from the other studio! It all happened so quickly I forgot I was in the film until it was released! 


You also worked with the legendary Morcambe and Wise at around this time. What were they like?

This was after they'd left the BBC in the late 1970s and moved to Thames Television. I got to know them as I'd see them at the studios while they were rehearsing their shows. I saw quite a bit of them and also The Two Ronnies (Corbett and Barker). Eric and Ernie then asked me to come and be in one of their shows which I was delighted to do. I was doing a lot of physical comedy at the time and I did some mime work on their show. They were the masters really. I also remember being asked by the then Prime Minister (James Callaghan) to attend Downing Street and put on a show to entertain a group of children. Morecambe and Wise and Roy Castle were also on the bill and it was great to work with them again.

When I was reading up on your career I saw you had worked a great deal at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester?

Ah yes I love it there. I first got involved with the Royal Exchange after I'd appeared in The Black Mikado in the West End - it was a smash hit and a complete sell out. The production was directed by Braham Murray who went on to be one of the founding artist directors of the Royal Exchange in 1976. We became close friends and it was always great to work with him up in Manchester. We did a lot of great shows there. I loved the challenge of putting on short runs of different plays. 

Do you have a favourite of all the productions you did there?

Without a doubt The Three Musketeers in 1979, which I wrote with Braham.I also starred in it with Robert Lindsay. It was fantastic. 

So do you have a favourite medium to work in out of film, theatre and television?

I'm going to be greedy and ask for a parcel of each! I love everything I get to do and think one of the most important things is to keep challenging yourself and staying fresh. Changing mediums is the best way to do this. Without a doubt though, you have to hone your craft on the stage.


Now, of all the many children's television shows you have made over the years, my own favourite was Super Ted. What was that like to be a part of?

Oh that was fantastic! We only ever recorded it on a Sunday. The cast would always gather down the pub for a big Sunday lunch and a catch up first of all. It was always a hilarious afternoon and I wish they'd recorded some of our conversations and kept all the outtakes as they were so funny and absolutely filthy!!

...It was only when I looked it up again after all these years that I realised all the big names involved in Super Ted - Jon Pertwee, Melvyn Hayes, Sheila Steafel, Roy Kinnear...

Yes it was a great cast. I got on very well with Jon Pertwee and we stayed mates after we made the series.


And I must mention Play School. I think there was a reunion not that long ago?

Yup we all got together again a couple of years back and it was wonderful to see all the old faces again. And it was the last time I met up with the lovely Brian Cant before his sad death. 

Now, I've got to ask, what it was like to get the call to join Coronation Street?

It was an absolute joy, a proper Rolls Royce of a job from beginning to end. It was a different challenge for me and I loved every minute of it. The cast and the crew are all such hardworking, talented and lovely people. No wonder actors grow up in the show and stay there for the rest of their careers - it's just a great place to work. I'd have loved to stay in the show for longer but I was doing 2000 miles a month to go between the studios and home and in the end it was just too much. 


When you went into Corrie your main storyline was with Paula Lane who played Kylie. What was she like to work with?

Oh Paula was such fun both on screen and off. We got to know each other and really enjoyed working together. She's a lovely person and an absolute treasure. We filmed so many heavy scenes together and she kept it so light and fresh in between and made it a great experience.

You also worked a great deal with two of my favourite actors in the show - Barbara Knox (Rita) and Sue Nicholls (Audrey). What they were like to be around?

Oh so much fun! We kept each other going with so many laughs and jokes and teasing! We all connected and really enjoyed working together. I had known Sue for many years, right back from the 1970s..

...Sue had done a bit of kids telly back then, things like Rentaghost...

...Yup that's right. We've known each other a long time and I even spent a Christmas at her house one year. It was great to meet up again at Coronation Street. We'd stayed in touch over the years but to work together was lovely. She's an absolutely terrific actress. 

From your time in Corrie, do you have a favourite stand out moment?

I think probably all the scenes I did with Paula. I had never played a character like Freddie before - he'd just lost his wife and was coming to terms with all that. It was quite raw and challenging to play. Paula was great to do those scenes with, such a caring person and I think that all came across in the work we did. So definitely my work with Paula Lane.


And finally, what's next for you?

I'm in the next series of the comedy Man Down, my episode should be going out sometime next month I think. And at the moment I'm in rehearsals with Dame Sian Phillips for the thirtieth anniversary production of Driving Miss Daisy. We're going on tour from September until the end of the year. 

I'd like to thank Derek very much for giving up the time to talk to me at the end of a long day of rehearsals! It was fantastic to spend time chatting with one of my childhood heroes and I'd like to wish him the very best of luck with all his future projects.

You can follow Derek on Twitter here and keep up to date with all his latest news on his brand new website here

Derek will be touring in Driving Miss Daisy from next month:

6 - 9 September - Bath Theatre Royal
11 - 16 September - Richmond Theatre
18 - 23 September - Theatre Royal Brighton
2 - 7 October - Theatre Royal Newcastle
9 - 14 October - Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
30 Oct - 4 November - Oxford Playhouse
6 - 11 November - Cambridge Arts Theatre
20 - 25 November - Malvern Theatre
27 Nov - 2 December - Chichester Theatre

This interview was originally published on the Coronation Street Blog

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

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Remembering Marianne

I love the late actress Marianne Stone. I'm not sure of the facts, but it would seem to be highly like she appeared in more British films than any other actress. She pops up in so many classic (and not so classic) films from the 1940s to the 1980s I just can't possibly keep track of them all. A terrific character actress, sadly a lot of Marianne's roles are all too brief, but the skill of her performances mean she is always spotted and never forgotten.

Marianne sadly passed away in December 2009 at the age of 87, having pretty much retired from the business in the late 1980s. I have written about Marianne on the blog before (see below for links to those pieces) however as today marks 95 years since Marianne's birth, I thought I would provide a quick guide to this most prolific of supporting actresses' Carry On appearances.

Marianne's Carry On career spanned almost the entire run of the films, much like more established regulars such as Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims. Marianne made her first appearance back in November 1958 when she played Alice Able in Carry On Nurse. Her character visited the hospital to see her husband, played by reliable character actor Cyril Chamberlain.

Why, might you ask, am I sharing a photo of the actress Lucy Griffiths in a blog about Marianne Stone? Well, following Carry On Nurse there would be a gap of several years before Marianne appeared in another of the series. Despite this her vocal talents could be heard in the 1959 film, Carry On Constable. Marianne over dubbed Lucy's role as Miss Horton, a character P.C Leslie Phillips come to call on in the film.

Marianne was forever being cast as Cockney barmaids, cleaners and the like. Her return to Carry On came in 1963 with a fairly typical cameo role as Peg, a barmaid in Dirty Dick's, in Carry On Jack. She sets upon the rather green Bernard Cribbins with some relish!

Three years later Marianne was back at Pinewood for one of her smallest Carry On supporting roles, playing Mrs Parker in Carry On Screaming. Sharing a brief scene in a taxi carriage with Joan Sims, she puts a suspicious Emily Bung onto the night time antics of her errant husband (Harry H Corbett).


Later that same year Marianne was back for one of my favourite of her cameo roles in the series. Filming just one scene in the 1966 film Carry On Don't Lose Your Head, Marianne plays a spirited Landlady who has memorably "just called temps!" She spars deliciously with Kenneth Williams and Peter Butterworth as Citizens Camembert and Bidet and certainly gets the better of Bidet!

The following year, the gang reunited for one of the landmark films in the series, a return to medical comedy in Carry On Doctor. The cast of this film features nearly all the Carry On regulars with the addition of guest star Frankie Howerd. The film is also littered with cameos from some cracking comedy actors (Peter Jones, Dandy Nichols, Julian Orchard, Pat Coombs) and of course Marianne Stone. Marianne has something of a running gag as a put upon mother who makes repeated trips to the hospital with son, grandad and an offending chamber pot!


In 1971 Marianne had probably her biggest Carry On role, as factory worker Maud in that classic comedy, Carry On At Your Convenience. Best friend of main character Chloe (Joan Sims) the pair enjoy winding up Kenneth Cope's shop steward and Marianne's main scenes involve the delightful works outing to Brighton towards the end of the film. Her character's memorable laugh is right up there to rival Betty Marsden's in Carry On Camping!

Yes I know that's a picture of the wonderful Hattie as Matron. Sadly the Carry Ons were filmed on a tight budget and if things over ran then the editor would cut, cut, cut. It happened to some of the very best of them, with Terry Scott having his entire 10 minute appearance in Carry On At Your Convenience hitting the cutting room floor. Unfortunately this happened to Marianne Stone in Carry On Matron. She filmed a role as Mrs Putzova however for whatever reason the role was completely deleted from the final print. No wonder Matron looks upset!

Another tiny role for Marianne, she appears at the very start of the 1973 film Carry On Girls as secretary Miss Drew. Her few lines of dialogue are shamefully upstaged by some gloriously near the knuckle Talbot Rothwell lines going to Sid James, June Whitfield and Kenneth Connor.

Ah. Probably Marianne's best character part in a Carry On! In 1974 she played the rather grubby old hag and patron of The Old Cock Inn, Maggie, in Carry On Dick. It's a delicious seedy performance which sees her pass on information about the identity of Big Dick to Kenneth Williams and Jack Douglas. The gag about the diddler goes down in Carry On history! 

Marianne bade farewell to the Carry On series in 1975 with her supporting role as customer Mrs Rowan in Carry On Behind. Filming scenes which introduced leading characters Fred Ramsden and Ernie Bragg (Windsor Davies and Jack Douglas) Marianne shares scenes with Liz Fraser and hams it up with the gang for one last time.


1975 did see one final, brief Carry On performance from Ms Stone. That year saw two series of the ATV comedy Carry On Laughing broadcast. Although the series proved less than successful it did give us some more precious moments from the likes of Sid James, Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth and Patsy Rowlands. Marianne turns up as Madame Petra for a scene in the episode "The Case of the Screaming Winkles" which starred Kenneth Connor, Jack Douglas, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims and Sherrie Hewson. 

And there you have it - Marianne Stone's eclectic Carry On career summed up in one lovely blog post. Her roles may have been brief but she deserves to be remembered as an important part of the Carry On story.

You can read my blog about Marianne's life and career here 

And you can read why I chose Marianne Stone to be one of my Carry On Heroes here

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

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Follow Carry On Blogging on Instagram!

Did you know that Carry On Blogging was now on Instagram? Well it is and if you are too why not follow me there?

You will find the usual great photos of some of your favourite Carry On films and their stars and it provides another great forum to interact with me and other Carry On fans. 

So why not boost my page on Instagram by following and liking some of my posts? It would be much appreciated. I look forward to seeing you there! My Instagram page is here: Carry On Blogging

And in the meantime, do follow me on Twitter too - I love your comments, feedback and general Carry On banter, so keep it coming! Links to both Twitter and Facebook pages at the bottom of this blog! 

Carry On Following!

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

Cult Film Posters Offer for Carry On Blogging Readers!


I have a wonderful special offer for Carry On fans and Carry On Blogging readers. The lovely people at Cult Film Posters are offering a special discount for fans of Carry On Blogging so read on to find out more!

This art print pays homage to some of the most memorable places and things seen in the Carry On films. The print features a individual design from each of the 31 Carry On films such as Helping Hands Ltd from Carry On Regardless, Moore-Nookey Clinic from Carry On Again Doctor and Much Snogging-on-the-Green from Carry On Loving.

Sam at Cult Film Posters has a genuine passion for all things Carry On and he wanted to create a print unique for Carry On fans.


The art print is professionally printed on 340gsm white uncoated paper that gives a soft finish and tactile quality to the print. It is standard A3 at 297 x 420 mm and will come signed by the artist.
Please note: Frame is not included.

I have one of these prints myself and I absolutely love it. It's a unique and affectionate tribute to our favourite film series. 

To receive £5 off Carry On Film Alternative Print:

Just enter promo code CARRYON2017 when you get to checkout to receive the £5 discount off the print.

This offer is available until 27 August 2017. Many thanks to Sam for setting this up!

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

Monday 21 August 2017

Favourites in Five: Stuart Ball

I started a brand new series of blogs a couple of weeks ago, asking some of my favourite people to write in about the five most important influences on their lives from the world of theatre, film and television. You can read Sarah Miller Walters' wonderful blog here 
and actress Judy Matheson's super piece is here

Today it's the turn of writer and blogger, Stuart Ball.

Laurel and Hardy

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were my very first comedy heroes and they remain special to me today. As a young lad, I remember watching Stan and Ollie with my late father. They were his absolute favourites and, through laughing alongside him at their on-screen antics, they became my favourites too. When my father was 70, we had a family party to celebrate. Myself and a very dear friend of mine formed a guitar/vocal duo for a time and provided part of the entertainment for the party. We included Laurel and Hardy's famous signature song Trail of the Lonesome Pine in our set and very quickly the whole room was singing along with us. It was a treasured moment  

Laurel and Hardy were the perfect combination really. Stan developed all of their gags and routines and was very much the creative force behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Oliver Hardy, or Babe as he liked to be called, liked to unwind after filming by playing a round of golf. He fully trusted Stan's ability as an all-round filmmaker and knew he would always make sure everything was 100% right. Stan was perfectly happy being left to the creative side and knew Ollie wasn't as interested as he was in that side of things. Babe just liked to concentrate on acting..

On-screen, they were both magical. Stan's supreme skill as a physical comedian was equal to anything that Charlie Chaplin could do. Oliver Hardy's superbly executed mannerisms, such as the exasperated camera look and his bashful tie-twiddle, have become legendary and those moments are often what I look forward to most when watching one of the Boys' films. What always comes across to me when watching Laurel and Hardy is their real-life warmth and obvious affection for each other. I think that is the secret to their long-lasting appeal through a number of generations - genuine warmth and a desire to simply make people laugh.  

Sid James

Those who read my Sid's Place blog and follow the accompanying Twitter page will know of my great admiration and affection for the wonderful Sid James. Although Laurel and Hardy were my very first comedy heroes, Sid was not very far behind. I think the first thing I ever saw Sid in was a TV screening of Carry On Cleo when I was around seven or eight. Of all the stars in that film, Sid was the one who immediately grabbed my attention. The raucous laugh, mischievous twinkle in the eye, roguish smile and wonderfully crinkled features all appealed greatly to my young self. Despite playing the villainous Mark Antony to perfection, Sid still managed to convey a great warmth and humanity, You couldn't help but like him. As a kid, I always rooted for Sid, even when he played villains.

Through writing the Sid's Place blog, I've been lucky enough, and indeed honoured, to get to know Sid's son Steve James  I have also had the pleasure of chatting to some of Sid's co-stars such as the lovely Sally Geeson  When my book A Question of Carry On was released last year, I was fortunate to be a guest on a number of BBC local radio shows across the country. On every show, the one person that everyone wanted to talk about the most was Sid James. That shows the continuing appeal of the man, both as an actor and a human being. 

Sir Christopher Lee

As with my first two choices, Christopher Lee has been a hero of my mine since I was younger. This was back in the day when horror films were, in the main, a lot tamer then they are today and were just fun to watch. I wouldn't recommend letting children watch the kind of horror films they make today but, to utilise the old cliche, 'back in my day' it was all about monsters, old castles and mad professors. 

Christopher Lee had such a magnetic screen presence. He commanded your attention whenever he appeared on-screen, combining his tall stature, continental-style looks (gained from his Italian ancestry) and rich, cultured voice to startling effect. Of course, as the man himself said many times, he was much more than simply a star of horror films. Indeed, when you look at the incredible amount of films he appeared in over his amazing near-seventy year career, horror films account for quite a small percentage. He was one of James Bond's most memorable foes, Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun, battled Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the form of Saruman and, like his dear friend Peter Cushing before him, became a part of the Star Wars universe as Count Dooku..

Although the Official Christopher Lee Website no longer exists, I still own my premium membership card which I first received over 15 years ago. In addition to the card, premium members received a welcome letter from the man himself, an autographed picture and priority notifications of personal appearances and events.One year, we even received a Christmas card from Sir Christopher and family. To this day, the card never fails to make an appearance on the mantelpiece every festive season.

In 2003, I got to meet the great man himself. All these years later, I can still vividly recall the feeling of excitement mixed with a whirlpool of nerves. Members of the website had been invited to a special screening at the ICA, London of the film Nothing But the Night. Sir Christopher Lee gave a screen talk after the film and then we all got the opportunity to individually meet him afterwards. It is a day I will never forget.

Ronnie Barker

Of the many great comedy actors that Britain has produced over the years, I believe Ronnie Barker to be the greatest of them all. His ability to totally inhabit a character and make that character his own still amazes me to this day. To my mind, his performance as wily old lag Fletcher in the classic comedy series Porridge is the finest in sitcom history. The greatest compliment I can give is that, whenever I watch Porridge, I never think of Ronnie Barker being in it. Instead, it really is Norman Stanley Fletcher on that screen. Compare Fletch with the rascally shopkeeper Arkwight in Open All Hours and, apart from some physical similarities, you really would not think it is the same actor. 

The Two Ronnies were a huge part of my childhood. Saturday night television in the seventies and eighties was a special event and The Two Ronnies show was one of the main reasons for that. Christmas telly was never quite the same after Ronnie Barker retired. I have very fond memories of Christmas evenings spent at my Nan's house, her silver Christmas tree sparkling in the corner as we all sat together laughing at Ronnies Barker and Corbett.

As with many of my choices, Ronnie Barker remains so beloved today because, in addition to being a fine comedy actor and writer, he was simply a nice man. His warmth always shone through, whether he was scheming as Fletcher, devising ways to make money as Arkwright, pispronunciating words as an official spokesman or mercilessly plaguing Ronnie Corbett at a party.  

Sir David Jason

It is such a shame to think that, out of my five favourites, only David Jason is still alive. Of course, David had a long history with Ronnie Barker, whom he affectionately called The Guvnor. When Ronnie retired in 1988, that mantle passed to him. 

Arguably, David Jason is the most beloved British actor of all-time. The British public took him to their hearts many, many years ago and he still retains a place there today. The character of Derek Trotter in the magnificent Only Fools and Horses is right up there with Porridge's Fletcher as the greatest  in history. David Jason has that special ability to make you laugh uproariously one minute and then hold back a tear the next. His physical comedy skills are also of the very highest order. If you are in any doubt about that, just re-watch the famous scene in Only Fools when Del falls through the bar.  

Sir David Jason remains at the very top of my list of people I would like to meet. After writing my first book Trotter Trivia back in 2012, I luckily got to meet, and in some cases become friends with, a lot of the Only Fools cast, The wonderful David Jason remains on my wish list! 

Thanks once again to Stuart for taking the time to write this wonderful blog. You can visit Stuart's blog here: Sid's Place 

And you can follow him on Twitter@sidjamesplace

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

Sunday 20 August 2017

Tomorrow on Talking Pictures TV: Dentist in the Chair

Talking Pictures have scheduled yet another piece of classic British comedy. Next Monday, 21 August they will be screening the 1960 comedy film, Dentist in the Chair. Written by legendary film director Val Guest, Dentist in the Chair was the first of two Dentist comedies with plans for further sequels which sadly didn't come to fruition. 

Based on a novel by Matthew Finch, the film was directed by Don Chaffey and produced by Bertram Ostrer. The story centres around two dental students, David Cookson and Brian Dexter, who become mixed up in the misadventures of a thief, Sam Field. Sam tries to sell the two students stolen dental equipment and all hell breaks loose!

Dentist in the Chair proved a success - it was the 11th most popular film at the British box office in 1960. Clearly capitalising on the success of the early Carry On films, Dentist in the Chair cast several actors from Peter Rogers' regular pool of talent. The star of the film is Carry On Sergeant original Bob Monkhouse as David Cookson. He is teamed up with Ronnie Stevens, a regular in revue with Joan Sims, who would go on to make a supporting appearance in the 1962 Carry On film, Carry On Cruising. 

The big draw for me is the fabulous Kenneth Connor, cast here as the crook, Sam Field. Connor was at the height of his fame around this time, being the leading light of the early Carry Ons. He would branch out to other starring roles in the likes of What A Carve Up, His and Hers and Watch Your Stern. Also along for the ride are familiar Carry On faces in Eric Barker and Vincent Ball. Watch out also for an appearance from Dale Winton's mother, actress Sheree Winton, as Jayne.

Dentist on the Job followed the following year with the addition of Carry On Nurse actress Shirley Eaton and Carry On Spying and Sykes star Richard Wattis. 

Dentist in the Chair will be broadcast on Talking Pictures TV on Monday 21 August at 12 noon.

You can watch Talking Pictures TV on: Virgin 445 / Freeview 81 / Sky Channel 343 / Freesat 306 / Youview 81

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

Saturday 19 August 2017

Whatever Happened To ... Dandy Nichols?


I realised the other day that I had never written a blog about that celebrated character comedy actress, the late Dandy Nichols. Famed for her many years playing Else, the "silly moo" in Johnny Speight's legendary BBC comedy, Till Death Us To Part, Dandy enjoyed a long and varied career. Her Carry On contribution may have been brief but it still means she's worthy of a blog all of her own.

Dandy joined the Carry On gang in 1967, the year after rising to fame in Speight's sitcom. Playing the grumbling wife of Sid James' hospital patient, Nichols is glorious in a couple of short scenes which see her moan on about her dreadful life. Sid plugs in his headphones, barely uttering a word which makes Dandy's scenes joyous monologues. Beautiful but sadly all too brief, sadly Dandy didn't make another Carry On. The height of the films' success saw her also at her peak, working on Till Death Us Do Part from 1966 until 1975 alongside Warren Mitchell, Una Stubbs and Tony Booth. Dandy is so recognisable and defined by the character of Else however in the original BBC pilot Else was played by Gretchen Franklin (famous as Ethel in EastEnders). When the series was commissioned, Franklin was in a play and her contract could not be broken so Nichols was cast. 

The idea was revived for one series in 1981, over on ITV with the title Till Death... this series added Patricia Hayes to the cast while Una Stubbs reprised her role as Rita for a few episodes. However the BBC later revived the series again in 1985 with the new title In Sickness and in Health. Again starring Mitchell and Nichols, the cast also included the likes of Pat Coombs, Arthur English and Harry Fowler. Sadly, Dandy only appeared in the first series and was now mainly seen in a wheelchair due to ill health. The series continued until 1992, six years after Dandy had sadly passed away.

Dandy was born Daisy Sander in Fulham in May 1907. She bagan her working life in a factory before taking acting and diction lessons. She was spotted in a charity show and started working in rep. The war years saw Dandy (adopted as her stage name - it was a childhood nickname) doing office work before joining ENSA (Entertainments National Service Assocation). After the war she began acting professionally on stage and in films. Her big screen debut was in Hue and Cry in 1947. Some of her most notable early films included roles in The Winslow Boy, Nicholas Nickleby, The Fallen Idol and Mother Riley Meets the Vampire. Later films included Ladies Who Do, Georgy Girl, Doctor in Clover, The Birthday Party, Help!, O! Lucky Man, Confessions of a Window Cleaner (as Robin Askwith's mother Mrs Lea) and another Askwith film, Lindsay Anderson's Britannia Hospital in 1982. Dandy only appeared in the first Confessions film with her role recast with On The Buses actress Doris Hare for the remaining three films.


On television, Dandy starred opposite the wonderful Alastair Sim in The Generals Day. She also made appearances in The Tea Ladies, Bergerac, The Trouble with Lillian and The Bagthorpe Saga. One of Dandy's most successful stage roles was that of Marjorie in David Storey's 1970 play, Home. Set in a mental asylum, Home starred John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Mona Washbourne. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, Home premiered at The Royal Court theatre in London before transferring to Broadway with the same cast. Later in the run, Dandy's part was played by Jessica Tandy. The original British cast also filmed the play for broadcast in the Play For Today slot on television in 1972. 

Dandy Nichols was married to a newspaper editor, Stephen Bagueley Waters from 1942 until their divorce in 1955. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Nichols was dogged by ill health but continued working right up until her death at the age of 78 in February 1986. A gifted actress, many of Dandy's performances are still remembered and cherished over thirty years after her death.



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