Monday 2 July 2018

My Top 20 Favourite Carry On Actors: Number 6 - Peter Butterworth

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 we are now half way through my countdown of my all-time favourite Carry On actors. The first half of the list featured mainly supporting actors who popped in and out several times throughout the films, from the likes of Joan Hickson and Cyril Chamberlain to Margaret Nolan and Peter Gilmore. Now obviously the Top Ten is going to focus on the main team members as there aren't any I can conceivably leave out.

So here we go with Number Six: One of the most under-rated of all the Carry On actors. An actor who rightly deserves a place at the top table of brilliant British comedy -  Peter Butterworth.

Regular readers of the blog will know just how much I admire the talents of the late Peter Butterworth. Peter may only have joined the series in 1965, eleven films into the run, but he quickly made his mark. He often hovered down to the cast lists and rarely received the attention or recognition compared to some of his more famous cast mates, but he frequently stole scenes right from under their noses.

Not even billed as a main team member for some of his early appearances in the series (Cowboy, Screaming) and occasionally limited to brief, sometimes uncredited cameo roles (Loving, Henry) Butterworth was the master of making something out of nothing. And in a series which was renowned for its actors sticking to the script, Peter often appeared to ad-lib, whether that be in dialogue or in physical comedy. He's probably at his best playing as part of a double act, such as his brilliant pairing with Harry H Corbett as the bumbling detectives in Carry On Screaming or as Citizens Camembert and Bidet with Kenneth Williams in Don't Lose Your Head.

And who can forget Peter's snivelling, money grabbing campsite owner Mr Fiddler in Carry On Camping? That iconic "Pound" sequence with Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw has long gone down in Carry On history. Although I adore Peter's Brother Belcher, who pretty much makes the dinner party sequence in Up The Khyber, for me his role as Pepe (or is it Mario?) in Carry On Abroad is just sublime. He works so hard in that film and goes from sift gag to physical comedy and inspired reaction shot like the pro he was.

Peter Butterworth made seventeen appearances in the Carry Ons, staying with the series until its original demise in 1978. Sadly he was gone by the following year, robbing us of no doubt many more wonderful screen performances. He may have spent his Carry On career propping up the other stars on the McGill style posters, but hopefully this countdown finally puts Peter right up there where he has always belonged.

So Peter Butterworth comes in at Number Six in my list of Top 20 Favourite Carry On actors. Who'll be next?

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