Tuesday 3 April 2018

My Top 20 Favourite Carry On Actors: Number 15 - Esma Cannon

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 Fifteen: one of my very favourite character actresses - Esma Cannon.


Esma is another actress who, if she had gone on to appear in more of the Carry Ons, would be much further up this list. There was only one Esma Cannon and she brought something quite unique to each of her four Carry On appearances. Esma had been appearing in films in the UK since the 1930s after arriving from Australia. While she had memorable, decent-sized roles in films like Holiday Camp, What A Carve Up and Sailor, Beware, Cannon quite often had small, cameo roles in films, mostly in comedy roles.

Esma first appeared in the Carry On series towards the end of her prolific, diverse acting career. She first played an old lady who batters P.C Kenneth Williams with her baguette in Carry On Constable before returning for a major supporting role as Miss Cooling in Carry On Regardless. Probably Esma's best remembered role in the series was as the chirpy spinster Bridget Madderley in the bright and colourful Carry On Cruising. Her drunk scene with Dilys Laye has gone down as one of the best in the film and in the series itself.

Sadly, Carry On Cabby was Esma's last role in the films before she retired from the profession the following year. I'm not sure some of the later films would have suited her particular talents but I really do wish she'd stuck around for a few more hours of fun with the gang. Nobody quite matched Esma for beautifully played, twittery, joyful comic energy and an innocent sense of fun. She was unique and added so much to those early Carry On films.


So Esma Cannon comes in at Number 15 in my top twenty list of favourite actors. Who'll be next?

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