Sunday 29 October 2017

Whatever Happened to ... Hugh Futcher?


It's quite an easy question to answer really because Hugh Futcher is very much still alive, working and celebrating his 80th birthday this very day. Hugh will be a familiar face and name to many diehard Carry On fans however he's probably yet another one of those very reliable supporting actors who have never received the credit they are due.

Hugh made his first appearance in the series in Carry On Spying back in 1964. He played the Bed of Nails Native in a scene set in the Kasbah. It's a very brief yet memorable role, probably best remembered for Bernard Cribbins' extremely subtle reaction shots (!) Hugh obviously made an impression on the gang (and not just on that bed of nails) as he returned to Pinewood two years later for the role of a French soldier in Carry On Don't Lose Your Head. Appearing in a night shoot with Kenneth Williams and Peter Butterworth as Citizens Camembert and Bidet, Hugh exchanges a few lines of dialogue with Kenneth and manages to keep a straight face when Peter inadvertently knocks Kenneth's hat forward over his face. Williams of course keeps going and throws in an adlib for good measure!


Back to the present day for Hugh Futcher's next little role in the series, which saw him appear as a taxi driver dropping of Gladstone Screwer at the Moore Nookey Clinic in Carry On Again Doctor. Hugh is left rather nonplussed when Sid's Gladstone attempts to pay for his cab ride with cigarettes! Two years later Hugh probably had his biggest role in a Carry On when he played factory worker Ernie in the trade union comedy Carry On At Your Convenience. Hugh pops up throughout the film an enjoys some lovely cheeky dialogue with Joan Sims during a particularly memorable canteen sequence! Partnered with future Coronation Street star Geoffrey Hughes as his mate, Hugh also gets to enjoy the infamous works' outing to Brighton and not for the last time gets paid to lark about with the gang on Brighton Pier.

In 1972 Hugh was back in the Pinewood back lot which this time had been transformed into the Spanish island of Elbells for Carry On Abroad. Playing the jailer, Hugh forms a memorable double act with Alan Curtis as the chief of police. They capture the rowdy British tourists on the WundaTours long weekend when they cause chaos at the local market and Madam Fifi's! Hugh must have struggled to remain professional when faced with the likes of Sid, Joan, Kenneths Williams and Connor and Charles Hawtrey all banged up in prison! The following year, and after a very brief uncredited role as a car driver in the Gerald Thomas directed film Bless This House, Hugh played a disgruntled citizen in Carry On Girls. Feeling swizzed out of his cash after Sidney Fiddler's beauty contest goes wrong, Hugh is seen chasing Sid down Brighton Pier at the end of the film!


Two years later, Hugh Futcher was back at Pinewood for his last film with the gang. 1975's Carry On Behind saw major changes within the acting team and the series writer, with the likes of Hattie Jacques, Sid James, Barbara Windsor and writer Talbot Rothwell all absent. Hugh appeared in a small role as the painter tasked with sorting out Major Leap's chairs in the campsite clubhouse alongside a pre-Coronation Street Johnny Briggs and the wonderful Peter Butterworth. And that was the last time Hugh worked for the Carry On team.

So what else has Hugh Futcher appeared in during his long career? Hugh's earliest credited role came in 1960 when he appeared in two episodes of the television series Death of a Ghost. More drama followed over the years with appearances on the small screen in the likes of Armchair Theatre, The Saint, Z Cars, Special Branch, Doctor Who and Jason King. Comedy has also played an important part in Hugh's acting career and over the years he has appeared alongside Arthur Askey, Harry Worth and in sitcoms like Queenie's Castle starring Diana Dors.


On film, the same year he debuted in the Carry On films, Futcher co-starred in the big screen version of the hit play, Rattle of a Simple Man. Hugh played Ozzie opposite the likes of Thora Hird, Diane Cilento (then married to Sean Connery) and Carry On Screaming star Harry H Corbett. The following year Hugh appeared in another high profile sixties film when he was cast as Reggie in Roman Polanski's cult horror film Repulsion. Hugh worked on this legendary film with French actress Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and fellow Carry On actor, Renee Houston. 

In 1966 Hugh had a small part in Michael Bentine's labour of love, The Sandwich Man, a film which boasted a large ensemble cast featuring the likes of Suzy Kendall, Norman Wisdom, Stanley Holloway, Dora Bryan, Diana Dors and Bernard Cribbins. A year later he also popped up in the Morecambe and Wise film, The Magnificent Two. Other films have included Mrs Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter; Five Million Years to Earth; Before Winter Comes and 102 Dalmatians. 

On stage, Hugh has appeared in a wide variety of productions over the years, at a large selection of the very best British theatres. Credits have included roles in Joe Orton's Loot, Three Sisters, No Man's Land, Much Ado About Nothing and Gaslight. 


And thankfully, as Hugh turns 80, he's as busy as ever. He has just completed work on a new film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing the role of Quince. Other recent film roles have included the role of a pensioner in My Name is Lenny, Travelling Man in Holiday and finally Mr Heritage in the film Confection.

It's so great to see another familiar face from the Carry On films still working hard in a profession they so obviously love. I'd like to wish Hugh a wonderfully happy birthday and here's to many more!

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