Friday 6 July 2018

Norbert Smith: A life - Released on DVD for the first time!

Harry Enfield’s iconic mockumentary, first shown on Channel 4 in 1989, is a hilarious send-up of both the TV arts biopic and the history of British cinema.
Rated 8.3 on IMDB and winner of the Popular Arts Award at the 18th International Emmy awards in 1990.
Written by BAFTA-winners Harry Enfield (The Windors) and Geoffrey Perkins (Benidorm / The Catherine Tate Show).

Directed by BAFTA-winner Geoff Posner (Little Britain).  

Melvyn Bragg (as himself) arrives at the country residence of Sir Norbert Smith (Harry Enfield) in the week of his 80th birthday, to reminisce about a distinguished acting career that ranged from a whimsical Hamlet to a coveted role as the face of Sudso washing powder.

Sir Norbert’s patchy recollections, addled by drink, are accompanied by jovial clips from the thespian knight’s greatest hits – from comedy capers Oh, Mr Bankrobber!, Passport to Puddlewitch and Whimsy Galore! to the shocking tale of 1930s juvenile delinquency Rebel Without a Tie.

It's Grim Up North reprises the unremitting misery of 1960s social realism; while the WWII epic Dogs of Death finds Norbert joining an all-star cast determinedly drinking their way through the film’s considerable budget. In belated support of the peace movement, Sir Norbert stars in the Greenham Common-inspired Carry On Banging; and in his final role he gamely plays Nelson Mandela (as Alec Guinness was unavailable).

The extensive cast includes Josie Lawrence (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), self-parodying Carry On regulars Jack Douglas, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Connor, and Renée Asherson – Lawrence Olivier’s screen wife in Henry V – as Lady Norbert.

And you can watch a trailer for this new DVD release here:

Norbert Smith: A Life will be released on DVD by Simply Media on 16th July.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram


  1. Excellent. I can never watch Michael Caine in Zulu without thinking of this doc, which showed one of his "uncredited" roles.