Thursday 10 May 2018

My Top 20 Favourite Carry On Actors: Number 12 - Fenella Fielding

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 Twelve: a superb, versatile actress who played an iconic Carry On role nobody else ever could have taken on Fenella Fielding.

Fenella only appeared in two Carry Ons but such is her talent and her stature as a performer, she will forever be linked with the series. Following a cameo as the delightfully named Penny Panting (no, that's the way I always breath) in Carry On Regardless opposite Kenneth Connor in late 1960, it would be the big film of 1966 which ensured her lasting Carry On fame.

Fenella Fielding quite simply owns Carry On Screaming and it has justly become her most famous role in a long and incredibly diverse acting career. While some might berate the film for dominating a career and limiting opportunities elsewhere, thankfully Miss Fielding is always delightfully affectionate about and revels in the attention it still provides for her fifty years on. Screaming is quite simply one of the very best Carry Ons ever made. 

In a cast bursting with classic comedy performances, including the likes of guest star Harry H Corbett as well as series regulars Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw and a knock out cameo from Charles Hawtrey, Fenella shines through as the star. In a tight-fitting red velvet dress, with deathly white make up and her long dark hair, the voluptuous Fielding provides a smokily seductive performance. She is a joy opposite her old revue colleague Kenneth Williams as a pair of bickering siblings and enjoys romantic interludes with Corbett, Dale and Bernard Bresslaw. She's a busy girl!

I think her finest hour on film comes with her initial seduction of Harry H Corbett's Sergeant Bung. The scene is ripe with innuendo and encrusted with double meanings. Bung's attempt to get straight answers from the lady of the house fall on deaf ears as she bewitches and bewilders him. Of course the scene culminates in one of the most notoriously glorious Carry On denouements as Fenella reclines in her velvet dress on the sofa and asks Corbett "Do you mind if I smoke?" This is accompanied by several smoke machines hidden from view, belching out theatrical smoke effect, to delicious effect! Fenella's reaction shots are so amazing it's hard to find the words for them! As the smoke fills the screen and the music rises, Fenella Fielding's position as one of the most memorable queens of classic British cinema is assured. It's the height of comedy horror production and for me, it's never been bettered. 

So Fenella Fielding comes in at Number 12 in my top twenty list of favourite actors. Who'll be next? 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram 

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