Friday 30 November 2018

Carrying On with Norman - The Girl On The Boat

This is part of a brand new series of blogs looking back at some of my favourite Norman Wisdom films. Although never as fruity or innuendo-laden as the Carry Ons, Sir Norman's films share a similiar feel to many of the early Carry Ons. Indeed they quite often shared the same production base - Pinewood Studios - and Wisdom's films often co-starred some very familiar Carry On faces. 

Norman Wisdom was one of the most bankable British film stars in the 1950s and early 1960s. His stardom lasted long after his peak at the box office too. He appealed to a cross section of society and young and old loved him in equal measure. His cheeky, child-like charm, excellent comic timing and sheer energy catapulted him to fame and he's very clearly one of our most talented comedy stars full stop. 

I've already blogged about the films Trouble in Store from 1953Just My Luck from 1957Follow A Star from 1959 and On The Beat from 1962. My most recent blogs focussed on A Stitch in Time and The Early BirdWe're continuing this series of blogs with a look at another one of Norman's 1960s films - The Girl On The Boat from 1961

What's it about?

During the 1920s, two young men returning to England on a transatlantic liner fall in love with two fellow passengers. The story is based on the novel of the same name by P.G Wodehouse. 

Who's in it?

A strong cast supports Norman in this film, although regular collaborators Edward Chapman and Jerry Desmonde are noticeably absent. Norman's co-stars include Richard Briers, Millicent Martin and Athene Seyler.

Carry On faces?

Future Carry On Cleo supporting actress Sheila Hancock grabs a leading role in this film playing Jane Hubbard. Also starring is the great Bernard Cribbins, a couple of years before he starred in Carry On Jack and Carry On Spying. Bernard plays Peters in the film.

The actor Martin Wyldeck appears in the role of J.P Mortimer. Three years earlier Martin had the small role of Mr Sage, Charlie's father, in the opening scene of Carry On Sergeant. Apparently the reliable character actor Harry Locke also makes an appearance in The Girl On The Boat but in an uncredited bit part. If you spot him let me know!

Did you know? 

This film marked a bit of a departure for Norman Wisdom and featured different material from usual. Although not a disaster at the box office, Wisdom returned to more familiar content for his next films.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Thursday 29 November 2018

Watch: Harry H Corbett on Steptoe

I've been trawling through the wonderful archive clips on the BBC South Today website recently. I've blogged lovely old clips of such stars as Terry Scott, Kenneth Williams and Sid James and today we're going back to 1974 to hear from the wonderful actor, Harry H Corbett.

To a generation he was Harold Steptoe in the brilliant BBC comedy series Steptoe and Son. And of course to Carry On fans, he was Sergeant Sidney Bung in one of the best in the series, Carry On Screaming in 1966. The clip comes from way back in 1974 when a reporter spoke to Harry in his dressing room about how he came to play Harold Steptoe, why he loved the role and also, what led him to play in panto.

As always, it's fascinating to see one of our best loved comedy actors being themselves, out of character. In those far off days, actors weren't interviewed as often, there was less telly and no social media. So it's quite rare to see clips like this. Also included are some modern day comments from Harry's daughter, the actress Susannah Corbett, who talks fondly of her father. It's definitely worth a watch.

And you can watch the clip here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Carrying On with … The Pure Hell of St Trinian's!

I've recently written a great deal about some of the other great series of British comedy films, such as the Norman Wisdom comedies and the Doctor films, and how the Carry Ons made an impression in these lovely films. I've now decided to write about another legendary set of films, the St Trinian's films. Set in the fictional unruly all girls private school somewhere in England, the films followed their adventures and those of both the staff of the school, the law enforcers chasing after them and the education department who frequently despaired of what they got up to!

The films featured countless wonderful performances and will always be synonymous with a handful of timeless actors. So without further ado, let's continue on today with a look at the third film in the series, The Pure Hell of St Trinian's from way back in 1957, over sixty years ago!

What's it about?

The St. Trinian's Girls burn down the school building and are, subsequently, put on trial, found guilty, and await sentencing the next day by Judge Slender. This leads to rejoicing at the Ministry of Education, and in Barset, the school's village home, where Sergeant Ruby Gates and Superintendent Samuel Kemp-Bird can finally plan their marriage, which is predicated on the end of St. Trinian's. However, beautiful Sixth-Form pupil Rosalie Dawn  has been flirting with Slender during the trial, where she gives him her telephone numbers, and continues flirting at the sentencing session. Consequently, when Professor of Philosophy Canford of the University of Baghdad suggests that, rather than punishment, the girls need sympathy, and explains that he has funds to buy a new school building, and with the help of noted educator Matilda Harker-Packer, the girls can be rehabilitated, Judge Slender ignores the guilty verdict and gives him a year to accomplish his aims. This causes dismay at the Ministry, where Butters, on the advice of his psychiatrist, does a pastoral dance to calm his nerves. The revival of St. Trinian's also means the end of Gates' and Kemp-Bird's marriage plans. The girls, led by Prof. Canford, new Headmistress Harker-Packer, and the new teaching staff, move into the former Hannington Manor, now the new St. Trinian's school building.

Who's in it?

Without the great Alastair Sim on board as Miss Fritton, the remainder of the original cast, George Cole and Joyce Grenfell take centre stage as Flash Harry and Sergeant Ruby Gates.  Joining the cast is legendary actor Cecil Parker playing Professor Canford.

Carry On faces?

The main star of the film, Cecil Parker, of course had a cameo role in Carry On Jack in 1963. Returning from the previous film is Carry On Sergeant, Constable and Spying star Eric Barker, again playing Culpepper-Brown. Irene Handl (Nurse, Constable) returns to the series following her appearance as a teacher in The Belles in 1954. This time she plays Headmistress Miss Harker-Packer.

Two Carry On stars who were also the best of friends in real life also pop up in Pure Hell. Sid James plays Alphonse O'Reilly while Liz Fraser plays WPC Susan Partridge. Cyril Chamberlain, an actor who appeared in countless films in this era, turns up as an Army Captain while future Carry On Cleo actor Warren Mitchell plays a Tailor.

Finally, two future Carry On actresses turn up in small uncredited roles. Sally Douglas, a small part player in the likes of Carry On Cleo and Carry On Cowboy, plays a Harem Girl while future Carry On Cowboy and The Big Job actress Edina Ronay has an uncredited role as Lavinia. 

Did you know? 

This was Joyce Grenfell's last appearance in the series - she would not return for The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery six years later.

Sid James had appeared in a cameo role in The Belles of St Trinian's way back in 1954 but his return here is a completely different character.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Sunday 25 November 2018

The actor George A Cooper has died

More sad news today for fans of the best of British film and television comedy. The veteran actor George A Cooper has very sadly passed away at the grand old age of 93. George was possibly best known for his regular role as caretaker Mr Griffiths in the long running BBC children's television series Grange Hill. However he enjoyed a career dating back until the 1940s and was still acting regularly until the mid 1990s. 

Although George was never in a Carry On, he did work for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas on another big screen comedy adventure. In 1972 George A Cooper took on a main supporting role in the classic film version of the Sid James sitcom Bless This House. As slavedriver cafe owner Mr Wilson, George shares several scenes with the likes of Robin Askwith, Wendy Richard and Carol Hawkins before engaging in some pure farce when a food fight breaks out between himself, Sid and Terry Scott! Wonderful stuff. 

Born in Leeds in March 1925, George appeared in countless films during his career including the role of a Farmer in the Frankie Howerd comedy Jumping For Joy in 1956 and a small role in the Peggy Mount classic Sailor Beware! the same year. He was in A Night To Remember, the Kenneth More Titanic drama, played Doug Savage in Hell is a City (1960) and appeared as Mr Fitzpatrick in Tom Jones in 1963, in a cast which also featured Rosalind Knight and Patsy Rowlands. Another brief but memorable comedy role came opposite Harry H Corbett in the 1964 film The Bargee. George played a canal official. Later films included Ferry Cross the Mersey as Mr Lumsden, the Landlord in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave and Blacket in The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (both 1970).

George A Cooper had played Geoffrey Fisher, the stern father of Billy Liar in the original West End stage version of the play in 1960 and also featured in a television version in the early 1970s. However it was the small screen which beckoned for most of George's career. As well as his regular role in Grange Hill, Cooper also enjoyed success in none other than Coronation Street. He played the character of Willie Piggott on and off between 1964 and 1971. Piggott owned a butcher's shop on Rosamund Street and was quite an unscrupulous character by all accounts. Over his 24 appearances, Piggott tried to bribe Ken Barlow, tussled with Len Fairclough and took a shine to Elsie Tanner! Cooper also played a role in the Corrie comedy spinoff Pardon The Expression in 1966, working with Betty Driver and Arthur Lowe.

Like many actors of his generation, George A Cooper appeared in pretty much all the classic television dramas and comedy shows of the era. There were one off parts in Danger Man, The Avengers, The Saint, Z Cars, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Dixon of Dock Green and Public Eye. Always with an eye for comedy, George also grabbed memorable supporting roles in a host of classic sitcoms. He worked with Sid James on Bless This House, Terry Scott and June Whitfield in Terry and June, Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques in Sykes as well as Rising Damp and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. 

George A Cooper pretty much retired from acting in 1995. He played Griffiths in Grange Hill for seven years until 1992 and made final appearances on television in Heartbeat in 1993 and Casualty two years later. He was married to Anne Shirley Jones from 1955 until her death in 2000. George passed away on 16 November, in Petersfield, Hampshire at the age of 93. He is survived by his son, Adam. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Carry On Christmas Gifts for the Comedy Fan in your life!

With Christmas just around the corner yet again, today I'm featuring some of my favourite art work with a Carry On theme. So take a look at some of this excellent art work if you're looking for something a little different this festive season.

Jayne Bickerton's Cracking Carry On Prints

One of the joys of Twitter for me over the past few weeks has been getting to know the very talented actress and artist Jayne Tunnicliffe. Jayne is known for her work on the likes of Coronation Street, Phoenix Nights and Happy Valley, but she also runs a thriving business as a very creative artist. I love her work so much that I've just ordered a print myself.

Jayne has started creating prints of some of our favourite Carry On actors and being a fan herself, you can see the love and attention to detail that's gone into them. I can't wait to receive my Amanda Barrie print, pictured above, which sees the actress in full on Coronation  Street Alma mode. 

Other crackers include prints of Joan Sims, June Whitfield, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques, Sid James and one of Jayne's mentors, the ultra talented Bob Monkhouse. Each print is signed and numbered in a limited edition run of 100 prints. They are available in two different sizes, professionally printed onto 230gm heavyweight high quality matte photo paper. 

Here are some of my favourites:

My comedy heroine, Joan Sims 

The wonderful Charles Hawtrey

Dame June! 

Brilliant Bob Monkhouse

You can check out the full range of Jayne's brilliant art here: 

You can follow Jayne on Twitter @craftedcreature 

Sam Bessant: Cult Film Posters


This art print pays homage to some of the most memorable places and things seen in the Carry On films. The print features a individual design from each of the 31 Carry On films such as Helping Hands Ltd from Carry On Regardless, Moore-Nookey Clinic from Carry On Again Doctor and Much Snogging-on-the-Green from Carry On Loving. 

Sam at Cult Film Posters has a genuine passion for all things Carry On and he wanted to create a print unique for Carry On fans.


The art print is professionally printed on 340gsm white uncoated paper that gives a soft finish and tactile quality to the print. It is standard A3 at 297 x 420 mm and will come signed by the artist.
 Please note: Frame is not included.

I have one of these prints myself and I absolutely love it. It's a unique and affectionate tribute to our favourite film series. 

You can follow Sam on Twitter @cultfilmposters

Greg's Art: Graphic Art by Greg Robertson
Greg Robertson produces some really wonderful, imaginative art work designs based on a wide range of well known faces. From The Golden Girls and Keeping Up Appearances to Coronation Street and of course, the Carry On films, you'll find something for everyone here. Greg has produced excellent images of the likes of Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Charles Hawtrey on everything from wall art, mugs and t-shirts.

You can visit Greg's online shop here

And you can follow him on Twitter @Gregs_Art

Watch out for an interview with Greg about his wonderful art work soon!  

Art & Hue: Carry On Art Work inspired by the Anglo Amalgamated films

The longest-running British film series, Art & Hue has created a pop art collection inspired by the classic Carry On films.  

The Carry On films have their own distinct style that is totally unique, beloved by many, and an important part of Britain's comedy, film, and cultural heritage. 

British film company Anglo Amalgamated distributed the first 12 Carry On films starting with "Carry On Sergeant" in 1958 and ending with "Carry On Screaming" in 1966.

Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, and Barbara Windsor (Dame Babs) have been given the Art & Hue treatment to create a collection of pop art portraits, all available in three sizes & 16 colours to choose from to fit into any design scheme.

The first twelve Carry On films have also been transformed into pop art featuring Art & Hue's signature halftone style (halftone is an age-old technique that uses dots to make up the printed image, similar to newspapers or comic books).

Unlike traditional posters, which are printed on thin paper with inks that fade, Art & Hue creates giclée art prints, printed on 310gsm archival card, made from 100% cotton, with fine-art museum-grade pigment inks to last hundreds of years.

See the full collection at

And you can read more about the inspiration behind this fabulous art work in this recent blog post here: Carry On Blogging: Favourites in Five - Odysseas from Art and Hue 

Kirstie Taylor: Painter of Faces


The brilliant Kirstie Taylor paints a wide range of famous comedy faces and takes on individual commissions. From Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd to Terry-Thomas and Tommy Cooper, Kirstie is extremely talented and fans of classic British comedy should definitely check out her excellent work.

You can follow Kirstie on Twitter @Kirstiepaints 

And you can visit Kirstie's Etsy Shop here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Saturday 24 November 2018

Fancy Being a Guest Blogger? Well Carry On ...

A couple of years ago I wrote a guest blog for the wonderful History Usherette Blog which is run by @agathadascoyne . I wrote about the social history of the Carry Ons, comparing Carry On Cruising with Carry On Abroad, highlighting how Britain had changed over that ten year period. This experience got me thinking.

I love hearing from fellow Carry On fans on Twitter. Back in 2015/16 I invited some of you to be my 'Carry On Fan of the Week" answering a few questions on your own personal Carry On favourite moments, actors and films. 

If there are any keen guest bloggers out there with a Carry On related subject you are burning to write about, don't hesitate to drop me a line. I'd love to feature your thoughts on the blog. It can be as long or as short as you like and you can provide photos or I can find some for you. 

You can write about anything as long as it has a Carry On connection.

You can contact me via Twitter by direct message, by using the Contact Form on the blog or by emailing

Carry On Scribbling!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Get your Festive Christmas Cards from Art and Hue!

Send friends & loved ones stylish greeting cards this Christmas with the festive collection by Art & Hue. 
Featuring actresses in a yule mood, Art & Hue’s Christmas cards are ideal for a fan of classic film & television, or simply for a lover of retro style. 
Alongside The Avengers John Steed and Emma Peel, there are Christmas cards featuring studio starlets Barbara Windsor, Sandra Dorne, Janette Scott, Carole Lesley, Susan Stephen, Valerie Carlton, & Yvonne Furneaux.
The Avengers Christmas-themed cards feature images taken during the filming of the classic episode “Too Many Christmas Trees” which saw the crime-fighting duo don Dickensian garb.
he studio’s actresses took festive poses to promote Elstree Studios in general, as well as specific films such as “Sparrows Can’t Sing” with Barbara Windsor. 
An official collaboration with Studiocanal, all cards are available to purchase individually, as well as in groups, and come in A6 size with envelopes.
Printed in Britain on carbon-captured papers from sustainable sources, the A6-size white cards are made from pH-neutral 300gsm stock, free of chlorine & heavy-metals, and FSC Certified. 

Find out more and buy your cards right here:

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Thursday 22 November 2018

Dame Barbara Windsor's Husband Scott Mitchell to run London Marathon for The Dementia Revolution

We all know about the very sad news that Dame Barbara Windsor is battling Alzheimer's disease. Since Barbara and her husband Scott went public with the news, there has been so much support for the couple which has been wonderful to see. Barbara and Scott have conducted themselves with such dignity and I know they are in all our thoughts.

Scott Mitchell, Barbara's husband of many years now, has proven himself to be a tower of strength to Barbara and they are now doing their bit to raise awareness and much needed money for research into Alzheimer's. It was in the news the other day that Scott will be running the London Marathon next year, on his 56th birthday, on behalf of The Dementia Revolution. Scott has set up a fundraising page so I thought I would share the details on the blog to help make sure as many people are aware of it as possible. He has also shared his own personal message which I've shared here:

Thank you for taking the time to read this page. As some of you may be aware through the press, my darling wife Barbara was diagnosed in 2014 with Alzheimer’s disease and has been and is living with it along with 1 million other people to this day in the UK alone. To watch first hand as a loved one is slowly stripped of their memories and how they function in day to day life is a heartbreaking and often painful experience for any family member or friend as well as the person living with it, who at times can feel confused, disorientated, frustrated and afraid. And it has been no exception for Barbara. Barbara was fortunate enough to have had a career where she entertained people and has been able to have helped others in her numerous charity efforts and in some way her own involvement in The Dementia Revolution ( is a continuation of that generosity of spirit to be of use to others.

I will be entering The Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 (28th April 2019 and also my 56th birthday) in support of The Dementia Revolution in the largest push ever to raise funds to help research and find preventative measures and hopefully a cure for this awful disease. I will be joining a team of Barbara’s ex TV soap Eastenders cast colleagues (to be revealed at a later date) and together we hope we can with your support raise vital funds towards future generations being spared the painful experience that so many families have and will continue to experience.

Please I am asking you to give as much or as little as you can spare and no amount will be considered too small! Every pound helps! Let’s all try and help find a day when everyone’s memories will stay with them for all of their lives and time with our loved ones can last longer. This effects all our futures. Thank you.

Scott and Barbara are calling on people to run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon for the Dementia Revolution, to raise desperately needed funds for the UK Dementia Research Institute. Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK have joined forces for the Dementia Revolution campaign as charity partner for the marathon in 2019. To find out more about the Dementia Revolution and how to take part, visit

If you'd like to support Scott you can visit his fundraising page here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Happy Birthday Juliet Mills!

Many happy returns to the lovely Juliet Mills who celebrates her birthday today! Juliet, who has lived in America for many years, is of course best remembered by us Carry On fans for her starring role as Sally in the 1963 naval comedy, Carry On Jack.

Appearing in the 2015 ITV documentary Carry On Forever, Juliet was reunited with co-star Bernard Cribbins, and made it clear she was very proud of her Carry On association and looks back on her time filming with great fondness. Something which is always lovely to hear. 

Juliet worked for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas on two more films around the time of Carry On Jack. The first was the comedy-drama Twice Round the Daffodils, which featured an all star cast of the likes of Donald Sinden, Kenneth Williams, Lance Percival, Sheila Hancock, Ronald Lewis and Joan Sims. Juliet also starred in the 1963 district nurse comedy, Nurse On Wheels, forming a lovely double act with Esma Cannon, playing her mother and again enjoying a romantic pairing on screen with Ronald Lewis.

Of course Juliet is the daughter of legendary British actor Sir John Mills and his wife, the actress and writer Mary Hayley Bell. Juliet's sister is the famous child star and leading lady Hayley Mills. Juliet has been a resident in the United States since the 1970s and has been married to the actor Maxwell Caulfield since 1980. She has appeared in countless films and television series over in America and continues to appear on stage and screen to this day.

Whatever Juliet is up to today, I hope she has a very happy birthday. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: Two Way Stretch

Here we go with another in my series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money. 
More recently I blogged about the Sid James and Kenneth Connor comedy horror What A Carve Up! and the the Gordon Jackson drama, Floodtide. 

I've also looked at the Carry On links with the wonderful film I'm All Right Jack

Recently I blogged about the Billy Fury and Amanda Barrie musical film I've Gotta Horse , the classic 1954 school comedy The Belles of St Trinian's and the 1959 romantic comedy from the Betty Box and Ralph Thomas stable, Upstairs and Downstairs. You can also check out my blog on the 1956 drama Lost

Today I am going to write about the 1960 classic British comedy, Two Way Stretch.

What's it about?

Three prisoners nearing the end of their jail sentences; 'Dodger' Lane, 'Jelly' Knight and 'Lennie the Dip', are visited by a vicar seeking to find employment for them. He is actually smooth-talking conman 'Soapy' Stevens, who proposes a large-scale diamond robbery. They will also have the ultimate alibi; they will break out of prison, commit the robbery and then break back in.
With the assistance of Dodger's girlfriend Ethel and Lennie's mum, they smuggle themselves out in a prison van. The operation is almost foiled by the disciplinarian 'Sour' Crout, the new Chief Prison Officer who is replacing the easy-going retiring Jenkins.
The diamond heist goes like clockwork and the three break back into prison, hiding the proceeds in the Governor's office. When they 'officially' leave prison, they manage to take the loot with them. All goes well, until the sack of diamonds is lost on a train. Stevens is recognised and arrested, but the others get away – minus the diamonds.

Who's in it?
Leading a wonderful cast of British comedy talent is Peter Sellers as Dodger Lane. His fellow cons are played by Bernard Cribbins (Lennie The Dip Price) and David Lodge as Jelly Knight. Also look out for the legendary Wilfrid Hyde-White as Soapy Stevens and the peerless Lionel Jeffries as Prison Officer 'Sour' Crout! 

Carry On Faces?

Plenty! As I've already mentioned, there are starring roles for Bernard Cribbins and David Lodge as members of Peter Sellers' gang. Bernard would go on to star in Carry On Jack, Spying and Columbus while David Lodge cropped up in supporting roles in Regardless, Girls, Dick, Behind and England, as well as many episodes of Carry On Laughing for ATV in 1975. Carry On Nurse guest star Wilfrid Hyde-White also stars here as the aforementioned Soapy Stevens.

Having proved a winning double act in 1959's I'm All Right Jack, Irene Handl and the late Liz Fraser were back for Two Way Stretch. Irene, who had cameos in Carry On Nurse and Constable plays Mrs Price while Liz, seen in Regardless, Cruising, Cabby and Behind, plays Ethel. Carry On Emmannuelle guest star Beryl Reid pops up in the small role of Miss Pringle while Carry On Jack actor George Woodbridge appears as Chief Prison Officer Jenkins.

There are also small roles for Carry On regular Cyril Chamberlain as Gate Warder - Day, Carry On Cleo actor Warren Mitchell as a Tailor and Ian Wilson, who had small roles in the likes of Carry On Regardless, Cabby, Jack and Cleo, as a Milkman.

Did you know?

The film was the fourth most popular film at the British Box Office in 1960.

Liz Fraser later described Two Way Stretch as one her favourites of all the films she made during her long career.

Liz couldn't yet drive when making this film and during scenes involving the Aston Martin, she kept stalling the car, so in the end ropes had to be used to pull the car out of shot.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram