Friday 29 September 2017

Whatever Happened to Valerie Shute?


I've been running an occasional series of blogs looking at the lives and careers of some of the lesser known names connected with the Carry On films. The Carry Ons featured a cast of many wonderful character actors who added a touch of class to our favourite series of British comedy films. Recently I've looked at actors who played fairly small roles in some of the early Carry Ons - Freddie Mills, Denis Shaw and Anna Karen.

Today I am looking back at the career of an actress who only ever had small roles in the films but still managed to appear in several titles for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas. Valerie Shute is not a widely known name these days but she is still remembered by Carry On fans, probably for one role more than any other and she didn't even have any lines! Quite a feat! 


Valerie appeared in five Carry Ons between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her first appearance came in the classic Carry On Camping in 1968. She played Pat, one of the Chayste Place girls who accompany Headmaster Dr Soaper (Kenneth Williams) and Matron (Hattie Jacques) to the Paradise Camp site where they attract the attentions of several male campers, especially Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw, before escaping with a bunch of hippies at the end of the film. Valerie can be seen throughout although her part, as with many of the actresses playing the school girls, is fairly negligible. She obviously proved herself to Peter Rogers though as she was back at Pinewood and working for the legendary producer once again the following year. Valerie was cast as one of the nurses in the third medical film in the franchise, Carry On Again Doctor. Valerie is seen in the speeded up sequence that sees Long Hampton hospital fly into chaos thanks to the bumbling antics of Dr Nookey (Jim Dale).

In 1970 Valerie grabbed her most memorable Carry On role with the part of the Girl Lover in the saucy dating agency comedy Carry On Loving. This memorable part lacked any lines to speak of (pardon the pun) but Valerie popped up all over the place throughout the film, always locked in a passionate embrace with her on-screen boyfriend played by future Citizen Smith and Last of the Summer Wine favourite, Mike Grady. Apparently Mike still regards this brief role as one of his favourites because he got to spend all day snogging Valerie Shute! Over the course of the film the pair crop up on the top deck of a London bus, in a lift with Sid James, in a phone box, in the back of a Mini and finally, under the table at the climatic wedding banquet which ends with Valerie taking one of Pinewood Canteen's very best cream cakes square in the face!


In October of the same year, Valerie filmed a role as a Maid in the very grand, rather splendid 21st film in the series, Carry On Henry, however sadly the role was cut from the final print. Valerie took on her last Carry On role almost a year later when she played patient Miss Smethurst in Carry On Matron. Probably her most prominent Carry On role, Valerie featured in a short scene at Finisham Maternity Hospital with the memorably named Dr Prodd (Terry Scott). And that, as they say, was it in terms of Carry On for Valerie Shute. So what else did Valerie get up to in her acting career?

Carry On Camping was actually Valerie's screen debut. Further small roles followed away from the series including parts on television in the Please Sir! spin-off, The Fenn Street Gang in 1971, Secret Army in 1977, The Danedyke Mystery in 1979 and the following year, a recurring role in the Yorkshire Television soap opera, Emmerdale Farm. In 1981 Valerie was part of the cast of How We Used to Live, an education drama tracing the lives of a fictional Victorian family in rural Yorkshire. Valerie made her last screen appearance to date two years later in 1983 when she was in the cast for the Alan Plater television play, Pride of Our Alley. After that, it looks as if Valerie retired from the acting profession. 


Valerie Shute was born in London in 1945. In November 1973 she married writer Willis Hall and they remained together until his death in 2005. Willis formed a well regarded writing partnership with his childhood friend Keith Waterhouse. Some of Hall's most famous works include the bitter-sweet comedy film Billy Liar, A Kind of Loving and Whistle Down The Wind. On television he created the series Budgie for Adam Faith and the comedy series Queenie's Castle for Diana Dors. In all he wrote over 40 radio and television plays and twelve children's books including the Vampire series of titles.

If anyone has any more information on Valerie's life and career, please do get in touch!

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  1. Some information about Valerie Hall (nee Shute) here:

    1. Thank you very much for sharing this! Much appreciated!