Friday 23 February 2018

Marianne Stone: Her Carry On Story


I was watching the very moving, thought provoking prison drama Yield to the Night the other evening and who should pop up for a brief scene? Yes, Marianne Stone of course. Playing prison matron Richardson in just one scene with leading lady Diana Dors, Marianne utters only one line, but the film probably could not have been made without her involvement.

I just of course, yet Marianne at one point (not sure if she still does) held the record for the most appearances in British film. Over 200 I believe. How much this record had to do with Marianne being married to film critic Peter Noble, I don't know. Marianne Stone was instantly known to cinema goers despite the fact she was never really a star. A hard working character actress, Stone was able to appear in so many films because her parts were usually pretty tiny. 

A friend to the Attenboroughs and Stanley Kubrick, Marianne and Peter hosted famous theatrical parties at their large house in Abbey Road, London. She was well known in the business and respected by her peers yet she was almost always blink and you'll miss her. And then the roles dried up as she approached late middle age in the mid to late 1980s. Which is a shame given how prolific she had been for so long. While she flitted in and out of many films, it is arguable that Marianne really did find her niche in the Carry Ons. She was never one of the main team in those films but Stone still managed to appear in as many of the films as series regular Barbara Windsor.


A friend to producer Peter Rogers, Marianne provided reliable continuity for almost the entire run of the Carry Ons, making her first appearance in 1958 and her last in the spring of 1975. As with the majority of her film roles, her parts were usually small but the Carry Ons seemed to still give Marianne more to do. As Mrs Able in Carry On Nurse, she appears in only a couple of scenes yet puts in a very believable performance as the working class wife of patient Bert Able, played by Cyril Chamberlain. In Carry On Constable the following year, Marianne was not seen but still heard. For whatever reason, she overdubbed Lucy Griffiths' character in the short scenes with P.C Leslie Phillips.

Following a break of a few years, Marianne returned for a very brief role as one of the girls in the aptly named DIrty Dicks pub in the first historical Carry On, Carry On Jack in 1963. Engaging in some good natured horseplay with the likes of Juliet Mills, Marianne again played to type. In 1966 Marianne returned to Pinewood for two more historical Carry On epics, first of all in a blink and you'll miss it appearance as Mrs Parker opposite Joan Sims in Carry On Screaming. That September she was back again, this time playing a landlady in an eye-catching scene in which she gains the upper hand over Peter Butterworth's CItizen Bidet! 


Marianne had a recurring plot strand in the classic Carry On Doctor in 1967. She played an exasperated mother who visits Jim Dale's Dr Kilmore at various points throughout the film complete with naughty son, beleaguered granddad and a certain chamber pot! Marianne then took a break from the series, for unknown reasons - probably due to demand elsewhere. Stone was back at Pinewood for Peter Rogers Productions in the early 1970s and for probably her best remembered role in the series. In 1971 she joined the gang as Maud, an employee at Boggs' toilet factory. As Chloe Moore's best friend, Marianne again worked with Joan Sims and pops up throughout the film, complete with an appalling laugh to rival Betty Marsden's in Carry On Camping! Marianne got to enjoy a few days filming on location in Brighton with the team and is seen having fun on the dodgems with Geoffrey Hughes at one point!

Sadly, Marianne's next role in the series was cut. This was a fate that affected even the series regulars, with Terry Scott's entire performance disappearing from Carry On At Your Convenience. In Carry On Matron, made later in 1971, Stone played Mrs Putzova, a patient of Dr Prodd's although for whatever reason she was cut from the final print. In 1973 Stone played the very small role of Miss Drew, secretary to the Mayor in Carry On Girls. She joins Kenneth Connor, June Whitfield and Sid James for that very funny, near the knuckle scene in the boardroom at the very start of the film.

Probably my own personal favourite of all Marianne's Carry On roles was in the next film in the series, as Maggie in Carry On Dick. As the fruity old crone, Marianne is barely recognisable and is constantly on the make when providing Kenneth Williams' Desmond Fancy with information on Big Dick Turpin! It's a gloriously comedic performance and she doesn't miss a beat. I always think that role in particular gives us an insight into just what Marianne could do if given the screen time. That role could have been developed into a much bigger part.


Stone made her final Carry On contributions the following year, 1975. In Carry On Behind she plays Mrs Rowan, a customer at Fred Ramsden's butchers shop. Marianne shares scenes with fellow legends Windsor Davies, Liz Fraser and Jack Douglas. The same year Marianne made a one off appearance in the ATV Carry On Laughing series. In the episode entitled "The Case of the Screaming Winkles" she is reunited with Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth for her scenes as Madame Petra.This would mark Marianne's very last contribution to the Carry On story.

Marianne Stone was one of those actors who straddled the lines between small part actor and main team player. Along with the likes of Patsy Rowlands, Julian Holloway and Peter Gilmore, she may never have been a true star of the Carry Ons, but surely no fan would deny the importance of her contributions to the films. Without these superb character actors, supporting the leading players, the Carry Ons would not have been the quality comedies they remain to this day.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment