Tuesday 31 July 2018

Carry On Blogging Interview: Julian Holloway (Part 1)

I was absolutely delighted to receive an email over the weekend from the actor Julian Holloway. I have long been a fan of Julian's work, both in the Carry Ons and elsewhere and often thought he would be a great person to interview. And all of a sudden here we are. I was surprised to hear that Julian not only was aware of my blog but had read several pieces I had written about his career. The power of the internet strikes again!

I tentatively asked if Julian would be up for a chat for the blog and thankfully he agreed. We spent a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining hour on the phone on Monday afternoon and the whole experience was a delight. Our conversation was fairly wide ranging so I have decided to split the interview write up into two different parts. While obviously I wanted to ask about the Carry On films, I was well aware that Julian has enjoyed and continues to enjoy a wonderfully diverse career. Looking up his career history on the internet I was spoiled for choice over what to ask about, but I hope you find the following interview a good read.

Julian first joined the Carry On team in 1967 with a small part as a ticket collector in Follow That Camel. A further seven film roles followed: Simmons in Carry On Doctor; Major Shorthouse in Up The Khyber; Jim Tanner in Camping; Adrian in Loving; Sir Thomas in Carry On Henry; Roger in At Your Convenience and finally Major Butcher in Carry On England in 1976. He also appeared playing several different roles in the 1973 Carry On Christmas television special.

Julian with his parents Stanley and Violet 

To begin, I asked Julian why he decided to become an actor in the first place and how he got started in the profession.

Acting was in the family. My father was the actor Stanley Holloway and my mother the actress Violet Lane. Violet had sort of been cut off in her prime, as it were so I was pushed towards it as a career whether I liked it or not! As a young person you sometimes accept these things in a way you wouldn't as you get older. I trained at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and as with many other actors who come from famous acting families there are many positive and negative aspects. It can be a difficult business to establish yourself in and sometimes I wanted to be left alone to establish my own self and what I wanted to do. I found that having a well-known name opened some doors very easily but it closed others. 

Can you remember how you first came to be involved with the Carry On films?

Yes! Very clearly. When I was a child we lived out in Buckinghamshire and the likes of Betty Box and Peter Rogers, Gerald and Ralph Thomas all lived nearby in Beaconsfield. They all knew my parents so they knew me as a boy. I also would go quite regularly to see my father if he was making a film at Pinewood Studios so I was around these people from quite an early age. 

In the mid 1960s I landed a recurring role in a comedy series on television called Pardon The Expression, which starred Arthur Lowe (playing his character Leonard Swindley from Coronation Street) and Betty Driver. It was a well-received part in a popular series and through that I got a call from my agent to ask if I wanted a day's work in Follow That Camel…

…punching Angela Douglas's ticket…

Yes! They had obviously seen the series and they knew of me anyway. I never had to audition for a part in a Carry On. After Camel, I was asked to be in the next one which I think was Doctor and it went from there.

When Dick van Dyke met Sir Sidney & Lady Joan Ruff-Diamond! 

I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about Carry On Up The Khyber. There is a great photo somewhere of you on the set with Sid James and Dick Van Dyke. How did that come about?

Well Dick was making Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on another stage at Pinewood at the same time we were making Khyber. It wasn't a planned visit at all, I think he'd enjoyed a scoop or three at lunchtime and had gone walk about! I'm not sure he knew where he was or what we were doing! You have to remember that in those days at Pinewood there would be several films in production all at once, many of them very expensive international films. We, the Carry On lot were always the poor relation! The grounds at Pinewood were so extensive you could have three different productions being shot in them all at once.

…these days that shot of you with Dick Van Dyke would be a staged photo call so it's interesting to hear he just turned up!

Yes you're right it would be but no, he just appeared out of nowhere! 

The climatic dinner party scene from Up The Khyber: Joan Sims get a little bit plastered with Julian & Roy Castle

The famous dinner party sequence in Up The Khyber is probably my favourite scene in any Carry On and also one of the best loved generally. 

Well it took several days to do, it was about three days I think. They actually took some time over it which shows in the end result I think and is probably why it's one of the better scenes in a Carry On. I remember on the first day the food that was provided for us was pretty awful but by the third or fourth day it was inedible! Full of bits of styrofoam or whatever they used! How none of us became seriously ill I'll never know!!

My favourite actor in that scene who I wanted to ask you about was…

…Peter Butterworth?

How did you know?!

He was brilliant! A very unsung actor. He was very difficult to act with because he would deliberately do things to wind you up and make you corpse! He was merciless and once he'd seen he was making you laugh he wouldn't let up! I remember one scene we were doing on Camping and he kept making me break up laughing. The crew were laying bets behind the scenes that we'd never get it shot! 

But he was a lovely, clever man. Very sweet. 

Julian in the film version of Porridge in 1979

I wanted to ask you about another couple of films you made, after the Carry Ons. My all-time favourite comedy series is Porridge and you were in the film version in 1979. What was that like?

Well Porridge was the best written comedy series I think. The writers (Clement and La Frenais) were at the top of their game and Ronnie Barker as the star was captain of the ship. For a start Ronnie was a comedy actor, not a comedian and that's a big difference. He was such a generous performer all for sharing out the good stuff. He also genuinely loved to laugh which made him lovely to be with and around. 

And you worked with Richard Beckinsale on that film too?

Yes I did and he was a sweetheart. It was very tragic though as he died not long after we made the film. So sad, he was only 30, 31 years old. Richard and Ronnie had a terrific working relationship though and it was clear to see Ronnie was like a adopted father figure to Richard. Ronnie was clearly devastated when Richard died. 

I was recently at an event where Liz Fraser was being interviewed about her career. She recalled being in the Sex Pistols film, The Great Rock and Roll Swindle with you! Do you remember that?!

Ha! I don't think I made the final cut in that one! It's not a film I've heard of since and I've never seen it. Funnily enough it's not one I put on my selected list of credits! 

I think you were in a cinema with Liz and Irene Handl?!

Yes that's right! I remember there was a guy there in it who's now known as Edward Tudor-Pole but at the time he was going by the name Tenpole Tudor…

Julian with Charles Hawtrey, Terry Scott, Roy Castle & Sid James in Up The Khyber

Moving on…You have appeared in so many classic series on British television from the 1970s and 1980s (e.g. The Sweeney, Minder, The Professionals) that I didn't know what to ask about so a general question: what was it like to be working in television here during that golden era?

Well I think the quality of drama production back then was very high. That period certainly to me is better than our current output. British television was the envy of the world and we exported a huge amount overseas, for instance an awful lot of our shows went out on the American channel PBS. I wonder how much is today? For me reality television has been the death knell. When you look at situation comedy now, there's a reason why the BBC are still showing episodes of Dad's Army so regularly and why it's still so popular. 

I wasn't going to ask you about any particular actor, but I know you worked with the late Gordon Jackson in The Professionals. He was one of my favourites. What was he like?

Gordon was a lovely man and such a solid actor. But he was a worried man, always worried that he'd forget his lines or dry. I worked with him at least two or three times and he never ever dried, always totally professional. Gordon actually wrote out all his lines in long hand and used different coloured pens, so concerned was he that he'd not know them! I think he used to go through the long hand notes every night at home with his wife Rona before the next day of filming! Extraordinary. I also think he was a good influence on Kenneth Williams, I know they were very close for a long time and Kenny was also very fond of the Jackson family. 

Julian gets to know Babs and Fanny (Barbara Windsor & Sandra Caron) in Carry On Camping

So that's Part 1 of my interview with Julian. Don't worry, there's more on the Carry Ons in Part 2, including Julian's thoughts on working with Sid James and for Peter Rogers. And there's more on some of Julian's other television work and his thoughts on his years spent working in America. So look out for that coming up soon!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Guest Blog: Carrying On Historically with Carry On Henry

In this fabulous guest blog, regular blog reader Deborah Osborne writes about the historical aspects of the brilliant 1970 Carry On comedy, Carry On Henry. So how historically accurate was Henry or was it, as the film itself suggests, all cobblers! Read on to find out:

As a history lover the costume Carry Ons have always been some of my favourites. Part of that attraction is seeing how the past is presented in films that don't have to take themselves seriously.

I chose Carry on Henry for this post because the Tudors have always been some of the main historical players in our cultural identity and there have been a number of popular screen adaptations that were contemporary with Carry On Henry (specifically Anne of a Thousands Days which lent costumes to Henry) and recently, most notably Wolf Hall in 2015.

However in a world where Hilary Mantel’s portrayal of Thomases Cromwell and Moore are criticised, how accurate can a comedy be? Especially when the film itself opens by freely admitting that it is ‘all cobblers’.

The film starts with Patsy Rowlands beautifully playing a queen about to lose her head. We never find out which of Henry's six canon queens she is. (Possibly Anne Boleyn? But I challenge anyone to make this fit the rest of the film).

Which queen is not as important as the fact that everybody knows Henry VIII had six wives and executed some of them. In the same way everyone will recognise the names Cromwell and Woolsey, and know that Henry was having trouble Rome.

There are enough ‘facts’ in Henry to make it feel familiar and comfortable, even though those facts have all been screwed out of sequence and then melted down in the same pot. We can still recognise the flavour of the past and slide into the scenery like it's a well worn jacket.

The film plays on what we think we know and enables us to share the joke by pushing that to the very extreme of sanity. Henry and Cromwell don't even wait for Queen Patsy’s head to hit the scaffold before they are dashing through the tower to attend Henry's next wedding to Queen Marie, played by the glorious Joan Sims. Barely married a day and Henry is already plotting divorce.

This is also true of Sid James as Henry himself, which appears in the Independent’s 2015 top eight portrayals of the monarch along with Damien Lewis and Homer Simpson(!). There is bluster, overturned tables and summary executions a plenty, while at the same time Henry never really seems to be the one in control. It is great fun to see a Henry who is constantly being out maneuvered by the women (and lackeys) he is seeking to intimidate.  

There are some huge historical whoppers in Carry on Henry (Fawkes and his gunpowder, not to mention two extra queens) but equally there are some moments that make the film’s backdrop feel almost authentic.

There are several scenes between Cromwell and Woolsey that reek of (as well as lampoon) the conspiracy, intrigue and corruption traditionally associated with the Tudor Court.

My favourite bit is after Henry has married Marie, without seeing her face, and he asks Cromwell how she looks. I'd love this to be a nod towards the story of Anne of Cleves being misrepresented to Henry by Cromwell and the incident that contributed to his eventual execution.

Then again, perhaps it is all cobblers after all?

Thanks very much to Deborah for taking the time to write and submit this fascinating post. You can follow Deborah on Twitter @deboraheosborne. 

And if you fancy having a bash at a guest blog all of your own, drop me a direct message on Twitter and we'll have a chat! 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Sunday 29 July 2018

Carry On Blogging Interview: Julian Dutton

I'm absolutely delighted to bring you an interview with the very talented, clever and all round lovely chap, Julian Dutton. Julian has many strings to his bow - he's an actor, a writer an impressionist and a voice artist. Julian's work spans theatre, radio and television and during his varied career he was won both a BAFTA and a British Comedy Award.

Julian's current project is a one man show based on the life and career of that wonderful British character actor John Le Mesurier. Entitled "Do You Think That's Wise?" the show is touring the UK throughout 2018 and 2019 and is about to head to the Edinburgh Festival. And it couldn't be better timed in this, the 50th anniversary year of Dad's Army.

First of all I'd love to know how you got started in the business. 

My parents were actors and my brother’s an actor (Simon Dutton) so it seemed utterly normal for me to follow that path. So I began as an actor – the usual stuff, rep, touring, a stint in the West End etc. – but I was always drawn to comedy. This next sentence makes me sound like I’m 95, but I did catch the very tail end of variety in my younger days - I did panto  toured in a variety show in the northern working-men’s clubs, a concert-party in Fulham etc., and was always gravitating towards the variety/comedy/stand-up side of the business. I think it’s a certain temperament that makes you want to write or perform comedy. Call it neurotic, call it psychotic, but you play the cards you’re dealt. So when I chose to pursue comedy - in particular when I began writing & performing comedy shows for BBC Radio in 1990 and later, TV - I really did find myself ‘at home,’ and have loved it ever since.  

Can you tell me a bit more about your one man show "Do You Think That's Wise?" and how it all came about?

I co-created and co-wrote a TV series called The Big Impression with Alistair McGowan & Ronni Ancona and we did a series of Dad’s Army sketches, which I wrote & performed in as John Le Mesurier, with Alistair as Pike. Also, in my stand-up act I’d do Le Mes and was always surprised how well the bit went down, even with young student audiences. It dawned on me that he had never fallen out of the British public’s consciousness, young and old. I’d always meant to try a full-length show about him, and now I’m actually the same age as he was when he got the part in Dad’s Army! This, plus the fact of being the 50th anniversary of the series, made 2018 the perfect time to create a show and take it on the road. And I’ve been bowled over by the reception – the previews have gone very well – and I’d like to thank everyone for coming to them because when an audience sees a preview they’re essentially watching a rehearsal of a work-in-progress. A UK tour is being set up for the Autumn & Winter so I’ll be playing theatres all over the country, which is tremendously exciting. Also, there’ve been some very exciting ‘long-form impressionist’ shows in recent years – David Benson’s Kenneth Williams show, and Jack Lane’s tribute to Norman Wisdom, Wisdom of a Fool – and these contributed to inspiring me to create the Le Mesurier show.

You are playing the Edinburgh Festival this Summer - what are your thoughts on that?

Well I cannot wait – it’s one of the most amazing experiences any performer can go through. The last time I performed there I was doing cabaret, so it’ll be a good challenge to present a play. It’s a marvellous place to run in a show – I’m doing every single day of the Festival including Sundays at the Cabaret Voltaire – a lovely venue in the heart of the Old Town – at 1.10pm, which is a very civilised time.

I was lucky enough to interview John Le Mesurier's son Robin a couple of years ago. He spoke really fondly of both the actor and the man. How much of his background and life away from our screens will come across in your show?

I try to present both the public and the private man. I had to, to be honest with the subject really. I had two choices when creating this show. I could have done an ‘Audience With’- type show, with Le Mesurier telling funny stories, snippets from films, TV shows, etc. Or I could write a play that really tells his story. I chose the latter. Although he tells some very funny stories and was a marvellous raconteur, I knew that the ‘Audience With’-type show wouldn’t work; a) because he wasn’t a stand-up, and b) because I don’t think he would have done that show for ITV - unlike, say, Kenneth Williams. Some people after watching a preview have said ‘wow, it’s quite serious, isn’t it,’ as if that’s a bad thing! But I learned a very good lesson from something Steve Coogan told me years ago, and that is that in any creative enterprise - be it a play or a TV series or whatever – the creator must always be the one that chooses what to do. 

That’s not to say one must ignore all comments – some of them may be valuable – but when push comes to shove there are no rights or wrongs, there are only choices – and this the show I wanted to write, and as its creator I am the only arbiter. So my play is full of funny stories, but it’s written as a drama, and I’ve tried to give it the shape of a drama. It’s set in a BBC dressing-room in 1972, when Dad’s Army has been going for three series. Le Mesurier has just won a BAFTA for the Denis Potter play Traitor and he’s waiting for a journalist to interview him; and as he waits, he looks back on his life. I haven’t shied away from the darker things. We all have ups and downs in our lives and it would have been wrong of me to avoid Le Mesurier’s. But one thing I did learn from creating the show, and that is his remarkable stoicism, his loyalty, his steadfastness, and his adherence to the ethics of the English Gentleman. So I hope that comes across in the play. The aim of the show is for people to go away not only thinking he was a wonderful performer, but also a wonderful man.

In this, the 50th anniversary year of Dad's Army, why do you think the series is still so popular?

Where do I begin? It’s a masterpiece. Essentially, it’s a dream of old England - a dream within the memory-span of many who first watched it, but also Chaucer’s England, Shakespeare’s England. Alan Coren wrote a fabulous piece on Dad’s Army in The Times in1974 (and I’m looking this up now, not quoting from memory!) Basically, after defining the bumbling volunteers as being firmly in the long line of comedy soldiers from Bardolph & Falstaff to Laurel & Hardy in Blockheads, he adds ‘but behind the daftness there is a certain valuable poignancy which is not altogether explained by nostalgia. I suppose what I mean is that they would have died, too, if the greater folly had demanded it.’

And that of course is the heart of its success – we laugh at them, but we also love them. For despite their idiocy, their pretension, their frailty, when the chips are down they are heroic – or at least willing to try to be. And the central relationship of Wilson & Mainwaring is of course the engine of the show. Their rapport was magical. In his memoirs A Jobbing Actor Le Mesurier said: ‘Arthur and I got on very well… In fact, so well attuned were we that often an exchanged glance between us was enough to make a point in the script.’ For me, it is a flawless masterpiece of comic English literature up there with Shakespeare and Dickens.

John Le Mesurier was so much more than Dad's Army - his career was so wide-ranging. Do you have a favourite out of all his performances? 

I have to say I love him in everything he did, from his Boulting Brother’s films to the Hancock’s Half Hours to the sitcom George & the Dragon with Sid James to Denis Potter’s Traitor. His National Trust Officer in Hancock’s ‘Lord Byron Lived Here’ was hilarious. Hancock is trying to convince him that the romantic poet once inhabited 23 Railway Cuttings, and quotes one of the poems he claims to have found scrawled on the wall: ‘O wondrous moon, with silvery beam, that throws its light upon East Cheam,’ – and Le Mes instantly replies ‘Oh, get out.’

His BAFTA-winning performance in Traitor is the jewel in the crown of his serious work: harrowing yes, but it was so gratifying to see him rewarded late in life, so justly, for a magnificent piece of acting.

You're both a writer and a performer. Do you have a preference and if so, why?

I love writing and have been very lucky – I’ve written more than 50 episodes of TV, about 250 episodes of radio comedy, and published 4 books. I’ve written for Griff Rhys Jones, Roy Hudd, Lee Hurst, Alistair McGowan, Jon Culshaw, Lewis Macleod and many more – and it’s extraordinarily satisfying to see something you’ve written successfully recreated. I’ve always made sure I’m in everything I’ve written, and I have to say - if push comes to shove – that performing is more enjoyable. I think performers get more respect! I’m going to whinge a little now and say that the status of writers in this business has suffered a bit in recent years. In Galton & Simpson’s day, Esmonde & Larbey’s day, right up to – I think – the era of say, David Renwick and One Foot in the Grave – the writer was afforded a freedom and respect by commissioners and production people that simply doesn’t exist today. More often than not now a show is devised by a producer who then ‘brings in’ writers to write it up. And of course then they’re not considered co-creators. 

Financially I’ve been very very fortunate – my last TV series Pompidou is currently being shown all around the world on Netflix, for example. But artistically I think writer’s freedoms have diminished. Writing can sometimes be very frustrating – for example I had an animated feature film optioned by a company that contractually said they would develop it, and then did nothing with it for three years! Which was annoying to say the least. Basically, I would advise every writer to make sure they work with good people, and with companies that adhere to their contracts. I’ve never really pursued being a ‘writer for hire’ – what I’ve tended to do is create an idea and then doggedly pursue it until someone commissions it. So I’ve had the satisfaction of having my own ideas be commissioned – but as I say this route is becoming rarer and rarer. Many sitcoms now are devised by a star and a producer and writers are brought in. So being a writer AND performer is the best thing, I think – to broaden one’s options. But there’s nothing like being on stage and an audience laughing – or crying – and being gripped. That beats everything.

You have enjoyed a prolific career writing and acting on the radio. What makes working in that medium so attractive?

It’s a cliché, but radio is a great place for beginning a comedy writing career, it’s innovative, experimental, and of course many of the greatest TV comedies have started on radio from Hancock’s Half Hour to Little Britain. I cut my teeth on radio in the 90’s and was lucky to be given several of my own series – including my favourite, Truly, Madly, Bletchley. All in all between 1990 and 1998 I wrote in the region of 250 half hour eps. And as said, I always make sure I perform in the things I write. It’s all great apprenticeship – but of course, when you look back, you realise it’s not just ‘apprenticeship’ because a lot of it is actually far superior and funnier than much TV comedy. I think there’s nothing wrong at all in considering radio comedy as a goal in itself. 

When I started in radio there was a scheme where two or three writers were given a bursary, a retainer, and would work on many shows at once, which was fantastic because you worked on all sorts of formats – sitcoms, sketches etc. – and of course worked with lots of different producers. And you learned from other writers – I was awarded the contract with Richard Herring and Stewart Lee. We used to work in the same offices, and I have to say I learned a hell of a lot from their work ethic. They were prolific. I think things were more open and anarchic then – everyone was getting pilots going – Harry Hill, Alistair McGowan, Armando Ianucci, Chris Morris. I do recall - and this is absolutely true - having an idea for a series in the morning, showing it to a producer on a piece of A4 paper, the producer took it upstairs straight to the Controller of BBC R4 – the Controller commissioned a series of six episodes there and then, and I began writing the series in the afternoon. That could never, ever, happen now. I think!

You worked with the legendary Liz Fraser on the radio series Truly, Madly, Bletchley. What was she like to work with?

Liz was absolutely wonderful. She’d been a heroine of mine since childhood – I fell in love with all the glamorous stars of the 50’s and 60’s - I’m still in love with them. Her work with Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers was marvellous of course, as were her Carry On appearances. We sent her the pilot script of the series and I was overjoyed she said yes. As you might expect she was consummately professional, very generous, and so encouraging – she kept telling me how funny the show was, which was a fillip when a common thing is to begin to lose faith in it as the recording date approaches. I’ve seen her over the years since – most recently at an event celebrating Peter Sellers' 90th birthday at the BFI, at which I gave a talk on his visual comedy.

I understand you're also a big fan of the Carry On films - as I write this blog I've got to ask what your favourite film in the series is and if you have a favourite actor in the team?

Oh yes, I’m a huge fan. John Le Mesurier was married to Hattie Jacques of course and he talks fondly of knowing all the Carry On actors – there were wonderful parties at their house in Earl’s Court.

I could bang on for hours about how the Carry Ons are the natural heirs to Roman comedy, Restoration farces, and the healthy, bawdy vulgarity of music-hall and variety. I’m a bit of an evangelist about them actually. I think there’s a lot snobbishness about them. It makes me laugh when I read about theatrical people aiming to put on ‘working class theatre’ in arts centres in towns and cities up and down the country, when the ‘working-class’ once had a perfectly marvellous form of entertainment in music-hall and variety in theatres the length and breadth of the land – and the Carry Ons are most definitely a continuation of that working-class tradition. One wonders how many working-class people go to theatres today to watch the latest ‘working-class’ drama? One suspects the audience are mostly middle-class.

A favourite? Well, as I love Fifties comedy I adore the Norman Hudis Carry Ons, from Sergeant to Cruising – because they catch the tail-end of the Ealing ethos. I do love the Rothwell era – Spying, Cleo, Doctor etc. – but there’s a warmth about the first six, when everyone was finding their feet, in the flush of (relative) youth, as it were. To pick a favourite is so difficult, but if I had to I’d choose Carry On Cruising. Sid James was marvellous in it – playing against type as an officer – and though it lacks Hawtrey, there are some lovely cameos – Esma Cannon in the bar, the lovely Liz Fraser at her most seductive etc.
A favourite actor in the whole team? That’s pretty impossible! Everyone shone. I can name my favourite SUPPORTING Carry On actor (though he was in so many that to call him ‘supporting’ might be unjust) and that’s Peter Butterworth: he always turned in marvellous work - his preacher in Khyber is hilarious. 

Why do you think the Carry Ons are still so popular 60 years after they first hit cinema screens?

For many of the reasons I’ve cited above, actually – they’re utterly unpretentious, and locked into a fertile, rich seam of British comedy – bawdy farce. Because sex is funny – and men pursuing sex is the biggest joke of human life and history. Now, of course, it’s no longer ‘respectable’ to consider that funny! So the Carry Ons have become a kind of ‘guilty pleasure’ – which is of course nonsense. My mother was an ardent feminist and she loved the Carry Ons. You see, a man saying ‘phwoarr’ to a passing woman, is funny. But now that can’t happen in comedy – even if men are still saying ‘phwoarr’ inside their heads. The problem with sanitising comedy is that those foibles, flaws and sexisms don’t disappear – they just get bottled up. In today’s climate we’re all meant to be “getting along with each other”- genders, races etc. We’ve all got to be “nice.” But of course that’s not funny - and it’s not how the world is. It’s a death-blow to comedy to bottle all that up. The laughter of foibles, sexisms, and dare I say it racisms (who cannot say that Rigsby is not still funny?) was, I think, a great cultural release – and a telling of truth. Which is my long-winded way of explaining why, for me, the Carry Ons are still perennially popular – because they were the last comedy films to show, brazenly, the idiocies, sexisms and foibles of people: that is why people still love them - they are a breath of fresh air. They are honest. They are true. They are consummately performed by many of the finest broad comic actors of the era – and they are funny.

Where can we find out more about you and where you'll be performing?

I’ll be performing my John Le Mesurier show at the Cabaret Voltaire, Blair St., Edinburgh, from August 2nd-26th, incl. Sundays, prior to a UK tour later in the year. All tour dates will be posted on my website -https://juliandutton.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/do-you-think-thats-wise-the-life-times-of-john-le-mesurier/

- and more and more theatres are booking the show every day, so hopefully I’ll be playing a theatre in most parts of the country!

Finally, what's up next for you?

Well 2018 and the first part of 2019 will be focussed on John Le Mesurier, but I’ve always got about three projects on the go - I’ve just written a sitcom script which I’m pitching now, and I’m planning a new book. But the main plate I’ll be spinning is Do You Think That’s Wise? I’ve rewritten it after every preview, and it’s building as every week goes by. I’m working very hard to make it a worthy tribute to the man himself.  

You can find out more about Julian on his website and do give him a follow on Twitter @JulianDutton1

I'd like to thank Julian very much for taking the time to provide such considered and thoughtful responses to my questions and I wish him all the very best with his excellent show. 

"Do You Think That's Wise?" will be on at Cabaret Voltaire as part of the Edinburgh Festival from 2nd to 26th August.

And a big thank you to Sam Westerby for helping to set up the interview and for providing the wonderful photos.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram