Thursday 23 August 2018

Guest Blog: An alternative Top 20 Favourite Carry On Actors

The other week I reached the end of my countdown of Top 20 favourite Carry On actors, something which sparked some debate on Twitter. If you are interested in seeing who I chose, you can read it all over here. Anyway, regular blog reader Chris Stephenson has sent me in his own wonderful list of favourites and here it is:

Just outside the Top 20 are Julian Holloway, Peter Gilmore, Harry H Corbett, Margaret Nolan and Phil Silvers! I know Harry and Phil only appeared in one film each but they were starring roles an each was carried off superbly! To be honest, I don't think I dislike any Carry On actor/actress as they all bring something to the screen while you are watching.

20. Fenella Fielding - Need I say more than Carry On Screaming!? For her performance in this alone (never mind her role in Regardless) she deserves to be on this list!

19. Patsy Rowlands -  Patsy deserves to be in this list but I never quite bonded with any of her characters. The dowdy, frustrated women she played were never my favourites. Maybe it was just her great acting!

18. Terry Scott - I'm surprised Terry is not further up my list as I love his performances especially as the put upon husband in Camping and his Tarzan in Up The Jungle!

17. Jon Pertwee - My favourite Doctor Who and his cameos in the Carry On films were a pleasure to behold! I met Jon once and asked him about his Carry On roles and he said when he was told of the characters he was about to play he said to Gerald and Peter 'well can he have this, can he have that' and they said 'If they make us laugh, yes!' and so he did have a bit of input in his parts!

16. Esma Cannon - Esma, again is one of those actresses who you think made more Carry Ons but she made just four. However her role in one of my top five films (Cruising) is enough for her to be here! To quote the book What a Carry On, "Esma Cannon steals every scene in which she appears as a twittering, bird-like little passenger (a mad pixie according to the captain) happily entering into the spirit of the fun and games." I rest my case!

15. Bernard Bresslaw - Some of my choices (especially of the regulars) may be lower down than they would be in other people's lists but that's the beauty of making your own choices. If we were all the same life would be awkward so change sparks debate! I'm surprised Bernard isn't higher up my list as his range of acting in the Carry Ons is far reaching from the aggression of Abdul and Gripper Burke to the calmness of Ken Biddle and Brother Bernard, not forgetting his female impersonations in Girls, Doctor and Up The Jungle!

14. Peter Butterworth - Although never in a starring role Peter always left his mark in every Carry On he appeared in. His characters were mostly the shy, retiring type and very nervous, often as a side-kick. Although he made 16 Carry Ons, my top 3 Peter characters have to be Pepe (Abroad), Slowbotham (Screaming!) and Mr Fiddler (Camping) who this time is anything but shy when it comes to getting money out of Sid!

13. Dilys Laye - Absolutely love her characters and the way she plays them! The beautiful double agent in Spying; the shy husband searching good time girl in Cruising; the slightly nervous girlfriend of Bernard Bresslaw in Camping and the female who Bernard falls for in Doctor!

12. Frankie Howerd - His two appearances in the Carry Ons (Doctor and Up The Jungle) were more or less starring roles and he played them with his usual comical genius and presence! Always plays parts like he's ad-libbing but it's just great acting!

11. Liz Fraser - Another lady who you think has been in more than four films! Like Dilys, lived Liz in the Carry Ons but my favourite was when she was with Dilys in Carry On Cruising. One of my top five and with little Esma these three help the film cruise along nicely! 

10. Hattie Jacques - With 14 films to her name her large frame was only matched by a bigger heart! Mostly remembered for a battle axe hospital staff character but there were gentler roles and Hattie played them all with aplomb!!

9. Barbara Windsor - Bubbly Babs' portrayal of Daphne in Spying meant she hit the ground running and with her Cockney charm and shapely figure (which often led to her being scantily dressed) she breezed through nine films. Again Barbara was one of those that you thought had made more.

8. Charles Hawtrey - Love his characters in the Carry On films as you always feel a bit sorry for him! He tries his hardest but his child-like characters make him desperate to please but in the end trouble is also in store! With 23 films under his belt the public liked him too!

7. Joan Sims - 'Wonderfully talented - one of the best comediennes in the country' was Peter Rogers' description of Joan. Her 24 appearances speak for themselves as they are all different yet feel the same and that is credit to Joan for putting her unique stamp on the characters!

6. Jacki Piper - A lot of people will be wondering how Jacki (and my no. 3) are above Hattie and Joan and I think it stems back to old I was when I got into the Carry Ons. I was about 13/14 and when I really got into them Jacki was one of my teenage fantasies (along with Katy Manning and Elisabeth Sladen). Only four films but definitely made a lasting impression on me! 

5. Kenneth Connor - A bumbling, nervous-type character is generally Ken's role and he plays them so well he lights up nearly all the scenes he appears in. My three favourites of his are the Sam Twist sequence aboard the train in Regardless, the brilliant portrayal of Hengist Pod in Cleo and the love struck doctor Arthur Binn in Cruising!

4. Kenneth Williams - With his flared nostrils, gaping eyes and nasal voice Kenneth is to some Mr Carry On! With 25 films to his credit (plus the That's Carry On compilation with Barbara Windsor), Kenneth has appeared in the most Carry Ons. Most of his appearances are as bosses where is he very conceited and abrupt!

3. Angela Douglas - Only four to her name but like Jacki Piper as I was growing up and my libido was racing, they were my dream girls! My favourite of her roles is Annie Oakley in Cowboy, only narrowly beating Doris Mann in Screaming! into second place.

2. Sid James - What can you say about Sid that hasn't been said already? One of my favourite comedy actors (not just in Carry On but I'm also a massive fan of Hancock and Bless This House). Sid compared his face to a 'bed that has been slept in with the sheets left rumpled'! Who could forget that gravelly cockney voice and the yahk yahk yahk laugh. At 19 movies, Sid truly left his mark on the Carry Ons. 'They bung a beard on me' says Sid on the set of Carry On Henry 'give me plumes and things and dress me up in ruddy heavy costumes - but I'm still me'. And that's why we love him!!

1. Jim Dale - Although Jim only made 10 films, four of his Carry Ons are in my top 5! Although his first two Carry Ons were most bits parts, from then on he came into his own. His roles are a bit like Kenneth Connor's but Jim plays them almost slapstick style and his bashful, bumbling innocence became an essential ingredient in the Carry Ons!

So there you have it, an alternative top twenty! Thanks very much to Chris for taking the time to do this. So what do you think, do you agree with these choices?

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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