Monday 31 December 2018

Remembering those we lost in 2018

Without wanting to put a dampener on this most festive time of year, I thought it was also important to remember some of the familiar Carry On faces we so very sadly lost in 2018. As always, the older the Carry On series becomes, the less links we have left with past glories. The joy of the series is that we can still enjoy so many timeless performances from the very best of British actors, even once they've gone to the Pinewood Bar upstairs.

Back in March the news broke that we had lost the great actor Bill Maynard. Bill was 89 and remained a vibrant personality with many stories to tell. He was due to appear at a special event in Elstree in the Summer and there were plans afoot for a Carry On Blogging interview that very sadly didn't happen. In his 90th year, Bill was still in excellent form. You can read my tribute to him here.

In May, the actor Peter Byrne very sadly passed away at the grand old age of 90. Peter, best remembered for his twenty year stint in Dixon of Dock Green on television, had several associations with Peter Rogers Productions in the early 1960s. Peter had small parts in Raising The Wind, Watch Your Stern, The Iron Maiden and finally, Carry On Cabby in 1963. You can read my tribute to Peter here.

September was a dreadful month for Carry On fans with some well-loved actors taking their final bows. We said farewell to the British born American star of stage and screen Carole Shelley. Carole had started her career in Britain with supporting parts in Carry On Regardless and Carry On Cabby. She was 79. Read more about Carole here.

Very shortly after the news of Carole's death came the news that actress Jacqueline Pearce had passed away at the age of 74. Best known for her iconic role in the BBC's sci-fi series Blake's 7 from the late 1970s, Jacqueline had made a brief appearance in Carry On Don't Lose Your Head with Charles Hawtrey back in 1966. Read more here

More sadness followed when the legendary Liz Fraser died suddenly at the age of 88. I had been fortunate enough to see Liz in conversation at the Museum of Comedy just a month before, little knowing it would be her last public appearance. She was in great form and I'll treasure the memory and the fact I got to say hello and shake her hand. What a woman. Read my tribute to Liz here and my blog on my five favourite Liz performances here.

The unique, memorable, superbly talented Fenella Fielding had been in poor health for a short time before her death in September at the age of 90. A wonderful star of stage and screen and forever remembered for her iconic performance in Carry On Screaming, Fenella had enjoyed a career resurgence thanks to her beautiful memoirs and live performances at a range of venues up and down the land. Awarded the OBE in recognition of her long and successful career, sadly Fenella wasn't able to have her day at the Palace. At least she knew how much she was loved. Read my tribute to her here.

Just last month, the actor John Bluthal very sadly left us aged 89. Forever remembered for the BBC comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley, John had a long, diverse and varied career across all mediums and several continents, dating back to the 1950s. He was still acting earlier this year. He had supporting roles in Carry On Spying, Carry On Follow That Camel and Carry On Henry. Read my tribute to John here.

November also saw us say farewell to another instantly recognisable face. The actor George A Cooper may not have appeared in a Carry On but he did work with many of the team in film and on television. He also had a great role in the big screen version of Bless This House in 1972, working opposite Sid James, Terry Scott, Carol Hawkins and Robin Askwith. To my generation, he'll always be the caretaker Mr Griffiths in Grange Hill. Read more here.

And finally, only the other day, on 28 December we lost the irreplaceable Dame June Whitfield. June had reached the grand old age of 93 on 11 November and while seemingly retired from acting, was still seen from time to time at events and of course received her damehood in 2017. It's impossible to sum up June's contribution to British culture and British comedy but I tried in this tribute post from just yesterday, which you can read here. I'm sad she has left us but what a life, what a legacy.

Gone but definitely not forgotten, we'll not see their like again. Thankfully we have so many glorious performances from the very best of British film and TV to remember these wonderfully talented people by. So as the year ends, I'm raising a glass to each and every one of them. Thank you for everything.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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