Friday 16 March 2018

My Top 20 Favourite Carry On Actors: Number 17 - Joan Hickson

This is part of a brand new series of blogs where I will take a purely personal look at my favourite Carry On actors. I will be doing a countdown of my top twenty actors and actresses in this, the sixtieth anniversary year of Carry On. So why top twenty? Well top ten didn't allow me to include all my favourites and any more than twenty and I'd be at it forever, as it were.

This top twenty will be a mix of regular top team actors and many of those instantly recognisable supporting actors who popped in and out of the series, adding superb cameos here and there. You will probably agree with some of my main choices and be vehemently opposed to others, but it's meant to encourage debate! 

So here we go with Number Seventeen: that instantly recognisable character actress who rose to fame relatively late in life - Joan Hickson.


Many years before Joan Hickson rose to lasting prominence as the definitive Miss Marple in those wonderful BBC adaptations of Agatha Christie's novels, she was a reliable character actress appearing in countless films and television. Joan regularly appeared in British films in an endless array of supporting roles from the 1930s onwards and as in demand as she always was, she still made time to appear in five Carry On films over a fifteen year period.

Joan remains one of my favourite Carry On actors because she was just such a joy to watch. No matter what the size of her role in the film, she always added a touch of class. Her first appearance in the Carry Ons was her largest supporting role, playing the brisk, authoritative Sister with a heart of gold in the classic Carry On Nurse in 1958. She returned for smaller roles in two more black and white Carry On epics - as the very merry Mrs May in Constable and then the role of Matron in the hospital sequence in Carry On Regardless.

Nearly a decade later Joan returned to Pinewood to play the cameo role of Mrs Grubb in the hilarious afternoon tea scene in Carry On Loving. The beautifully played, farcical comedy of errors scene features the first meeting of Terry Scott and Imogen Hassall and Joan is just superb as the Grubb matriarch. To be honest, her role in that sequence pretty much guarantees her a spot in my top 20 alone! Joan's final Carry On supporting role was as the hilarious, eccentric hotel resident Mrs Dukes in Carry On Girls in 1973. Despite this role being written for Renee Houston (who was too ill to play it) Joan makes the part her own, as only she could!


The Carry On films became well known for the quality of the actors they employed and surely Joan Hickson is near the top of the tree in this regard. One of our most accomplished actresses, her performances are timeless.

So Joan Hickson comes in at Number 17 in my top twenty list of favourite actors. Who'll be next?

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