Monday 6 May 2019

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

Carrying On… On a Weekend with Lulu

The other day I caught the start of a rather rarely screened British comedy from the early 1960s. Featuring a cast bursting with well loved comedy people, A Weekend WIth Lulu is a film I've heard of before but never seen. Despite the array of talent on display and the obvious fact the film's producers were capitalising on the rise of the Carry On phenomenon, I didn't warm to Lulu or take that much of an interest on their collective weekend! Never mind, can't win 'em all...

What's it about?

Young couple Timothy and Deirdre plan a romantic weekend on the coast in pal Fred's ice cream van and towed caravan, affectionately called "Lulu." When Deirdre's mother insists on coming along as her daughter's chaperone, Timothy's plans are somewhat compromised. A ferry boat mix-up further complicates things, and lands the holidaymakers in France where they encounter a variety of irate Frenchmen.

Carry On Faces?

The film capitalises on the recent success of the fledgling Carry On series by casting several instantly recognisable faces from that franchise in leading and guest roles. Original Carry On leading man Bob Monkhouse, who played Charlie Sage in Sergeant, leads the cast as Fred Scrutton, a kind of wide boy Teddy Boy character. Leslie Phillips, at the time fresh from a run of three Carry Ons (Nurse, Teacher, Constable), plays a more relaxed version of his usual toffee-nosed letch with his eye on some alone time with girlfriend Deirdre, played by none other than Shirley Eaton, the original Carry On blonde.

Playing Shirley's mother in the film is the inimitable Irene Handl, who seemed to be in every comedy film of the era. The film also boasts three prominent guest stars, two of whom were leading men in the Carry Ons at this time. Of course they are none other than Sid James as a Cafe Patron and Kenneth Connor as a British Tourist. The third is the superb actor Sydney Tafler, who had recently filmed a cameo in the fifth Carry On to go into production, Carry On Regardless.

Also look out for two other familiar supporting actors from the Carry Ons - Denis Shaw, here playing a Bar Patron and Judith Furse, better known as Doctor Crow in Carry On Spying. Furse turns up as a character named Madame Bon-Bon!

Did You Know?

The film was produced by Hammer Films, better known for their long run of horror features.

John Paddy Carstairs was the director - a man better known for his association with Norman Wisdom's film comedies.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram 

Saturday 4 May 2019

Carry On Advertising - Carry On Cowboy

This blog is part of a new little series on Carry On Blogging, looking back at the changing face of the Carry On films during their original twenty year run. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the way the films were advertised to the cinema-going public of Great Britain over the years. These days when I do go to the cinema, I try to avoid the trailers as they tend to go on for rather too long, but of course, with Carry On it's a different story!

Thankfully most of the original trailers are now available to peruse on the internet and they provide a unique time capsule of British film history. The changing tastes of mores of the film-going public can easily be traced through these adverts as can the changing face of the British film industry and the social attitudes of the time. It's also fascinating to see how first Anglo Amalgamated and then later on, the Rank Organisation, chose to market and sell these low budget, knockabout comedies. 

Moving on today to the only Carry On produced in1965, the excellent Carry On Cowboy. Cowboy is the most British of Westerns ever made but it's an absolute joy from start to finish. The series was really firing on all cylinders by this point and Cowboy provides plenty of great performances, lots of laughs, delicious set pieces and also a fair amount of action for good measure. The likes of Sid James, Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore get to play out their cowboy fantasies while Joan Sims never looked better as ravishing saloon owner Belle. And series newcomer Angela Douglas adds some youthful vim as the gun-toting Annie Oakley.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Thursday 2 May 2019

Butterworth Carries On … As Mr Smith

A couple of years back I started a regular series of blogs which profiled each of Joan Sims' fabulous 24 Carry On roles. I enjoyed giving each performance a turn in the spotlight so once I completed the mammoth task of writing about everything from Nurse Stella Dawson to Mrs Dangle, I went on to blog about all of Hattie Jacques' roles in the series and then those portrayed by Dame Barbara Windsor.

More recently I have carried out the same task for two of Carry Ons' unsung heroes - Kenneth Connor and Bernard Bresslaw. Now I will turn my attentions to all sixteen of Peter Butterworth's delightful supporting turns in the Carry On series. Peter, along with Sid James and Joan Sims, has long been one of my very favourite comedy actors and favourite members of the Carry On troupe. Sadly, Peter has received scant attention from the wider press, with only diehard fans really giving his acting talent the praise it so rightly deserves.

Peter joined the Carry On team in 1965 for Carry On Cowboy and remained a loyal servant to the series pretty much right through until the end of the original series in 1978. He was also a frequent contributor to many of the team's small screen outings and appeared alongside Sid James, Barbara Windsor and several others in the Carry On London stage farce in the early 1970s. He never put a foot wrong and was the master scene stealer. 2019 marks not only one hundred years since Peter's birth but also, sadly, forty years since he passed away. It therefore seems fitting to devote some blogging time to his wonderful performances.

Follow on from my first blogs in this series on Peter's roles in Carry On Cowboy, Screaming Don't Lose Your Head and Follow That Camel today I'm looking at Peter's performance in the classic Carry On Doctor, made in 1967. 

Carry On Doctor is one of my favourite Carry Ons. The films seemed to lend themselves so well to the hospital setting and Doctor, Talbot Rothwell's tribute to Norman Hudis' iconic Carry On Nurse almost ten years earlier, features the gang firing on all cylinders. Following a trend for period costume Carry Ons (Cowboy, Screaming, Don't Lose Your Head etc) the team were back in the present day for this romp through the wards. Almost all the regular faces of the era feature in the film. Only Kenneth Connor who was at the time on a break from the series, does not appear. It is an absolute joy to see Sid James and Hattie Jacques return to the fold after previous absences; to see Jim Dale take centre stage as the romantic, bumbling hero of the piece; Kenneth Williams on sublime pompous villainous form as Dr Tinkle (!) and the likes of Bernard Bresslaw, Dilys Laye and Charles Hawtrey bring the wards to life. Throw in a delightful cameo role from Joan Sims and a stunning guest starring performance from Frankie Howerd and you have near perfection!  

The basic plot of the film sees the patients of the hospital revolt after the fiendish team of Matron, Dr Tinkle and Sister Hoggett (June Jago) rule over the wards for too long, culminating in the axing of popular Doctor Kilmore (Dale). It's a lovely story that allows the audience to root for the underdog. Of course all is well in the end and the film comes to a satisfying conclusion. Rothwell includes some lovely references to Carry On Nurse, no better than the infamous daffodil sequence which is joyfully brought back to life briefly by Frankie and Valerie Van Ost. Watch out also for a framed portrait of the brilliant James Robertson Justice in character as Sir Lancelot Spratt - it is between the lifts in the hospital foyer. This is of course a tribute to the Doctor series of films, a franchise to which the Carry Ons owe a debt of gratitude. The Doctor films were produced by Peter Rogers' wife Betty Box and directed by Ralph Thomas, brother of Gerald. Peter sought permission to make Carry On Doctor from his wife before going into production.

So what about Peter's role? 

In a cast bursting with talent Peter is given less screen time than his previous couple of outings with the gang. While this a shame, Butterworth still shines whenever he's given any kind of opportunity large or small. Only ever known as Mr Smith, no first name given, he is very much the everyman on the ward. He's there as part of the Greek chorus, reacting to the drama on the wards and the fiendish acts of the hospital senior staff. Peter blends in with his other male co-stars and adds real depth alongside Bresslaw, Hawtrey and James. He's given little to do but plays a full part in the climatic scenes which see the patients rise up and send a clear message to the crooked Dr Tinkle and Matron Lavinia!

Mr Smith's reason for being in hospital is never made particularly clear however for most of the film there are veiled references to a mysterious lump! He eventually has it off (as it were) but remains in the ward for a visit from his irritating wife, played by Jean St Clair in her only Carry On appearance. As she sits and witters on about this that and the other, she fails to take much interest in her husband as she even goes so far to scoff all the grapes she's brought in for him! Peter's farewell to his wife as she leaves is a thing of beauty, clutching the  bare stalk in his hand!

With much of the action revolving around Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Jim Dale and big name guest star Frankie Howerd grabbing most of the screen time, the likes of Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth are left to play second fiddle but in a cast where really only Kenneth Connor is missing it must have been hard to give everyone their fair share of funny lines in a film which barely ran to 90 minutes. Where Butterworth excels as ever is stealing scenes with the slightest glance, reaction shot or comedic mannerism. Even his reaction to dropping Kenneth's Dr Tinkle into the ice bath is played beautifully despite it only lasting a couple of seconds. Peter was a gift to these films and his natural flair for comedy and sense of what would make the audience laugh meant he stood out even when, as with Carry On Doctor, his part was fairly small and insignificant. In the hands of a lesser actor it wouldn't be remembered at all. 

Still, compared to his major supporting turns in Camel and Screaming, Butterworth fans may be disappointed by Doctor. Better is thankfully still to come as Peter's next two roles in the series are crackers. Stay tuned for my take on his turn as Brother Belcher in Carry On Up The Khyber coming up next!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Sunday 28 April 2019

70 Years of Ealing Comedies with Art & Hue

Art & Hue has created a new collection of stylish pop art prints to celebrate the 70th anniversary of classic Ealing Comedies.

1949 saw Ealing Studios release "Passport to Pimlico", “Whisky Galore!“, and “Kind Hearts & Coronets”, all within the space of two months, and the British film institution of the Ealing Comedies was firmly established.

In many ways, the Ealing comedies set the groundwork for the Carry On films: an ensemble cast, much like a repertory theatre in that they were employed across different films, and a very home-grown British humour with no concessions made to international audiences. 

Sid James was in "The Titfield Thunderbolt" and "The Lavender Hill Mob", Charles Hawtrey was in "Passport to Pimlico" and "Who Done It?", Hattie Jacques was in "The Love Lottery", Joan Sims and Irene Handl appeared in "Meet Mr. Lucifer", and Liz Fraser's first ever film role was in an Ealing comedy.

Many Carry On actors cut their teeth in the Ealing comedies, for example, the cast of "Passport to Pimlico" included Sydney Tafler, who went on to appear in Carry On Regardless, Reg Thomason from Carry On Cowboy, Jim O'Brady from Carry On Jack, Hyma Beckley from Carry On Cruising, Fred Griffiths from Carry On Loving, and many other crossover connections of supporting cast.

Another example, the Ealing comedy "Who Done It?", starring Benny Hill, featured a whole host of supporting cast members who went on to appear in future Carry Ons, such as Fred Machon, Ernie Rice, Denis Shaw, Pat Ryan, Chris Adcock, Philip Stewart, Rita Tobin-Weske, Ronnie Brody, Mabel Etherington, Anthony Lang, Chick Fowles, Ian Selby, Gey Standeven, and Terence Alexander.

An official collaboration with Studiocanal, Art & Hue has delved into the archives to create these stylish pop art prints, featuring Ealing Studios regulars Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim, Stanley Holloway, Joan Greenwood, Gordon Jackson, and Basil Radford, who all appeared in more than one of the Ealing comedies.

Exclusively by Art & Hue, the collection is available in three sizes and 18 colour options, printed on museum-quality archival card of 310gsm, made from 100% cotton, with fine-art pigment inks for longevity. 

Visit to see the full collection.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Thursday 25 April 2019

Carry On Advertising - Carry On Cleo

This blog is part of a new little series on Carry On Blogging, looking back at the changing face of the Carry On films during their original twenty year run. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the way the films were advertised to the cinema-going public of Great Britain over the years. These days when I do go to the cinema, I try to avoid the trailers as they tend to go on for rather too long, but of course, with Carry On it's a different story!

Thankfully most of the original trailers are now available to peruse on the internet and they provide a unique time capsule of British film history. The changing tastes of mores of the film-going public can easily be traced through these adverts as can the changing face of the British film industry and the social attitudes of the time. It's also fascinating to see how first Anglo Amalgamated and then later on, the Rank Organisation, chose to market and sell these low budget, knockabout comedies. 

Moving on today to one of the series' biggest successes - the triumphant Carry On Cleo. Full colour all the way now and the films were growing in confidence. A sublimely sharp script from Talbot Rothwell poking fun at the recent big blockbuster film Cleopatra, Cleo features a tight-knit cast of class acts - Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims, Jim Dale and Charles Hawtrey, not to mention the star of the show, the amazing Amanda Barrie as Cleo herself. The Carry Ons were rarely as classy, as hilarious and as successful as this. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Monday 22 April 2019

The Star of … Carry On Cabby

I have decided to dedicate a new series of blogs to what I consider to be the very best performances in each of the thirty original Carry On films. As ever, it's a purely personal take on these films from yours truly and of course you are welcome to agree or disagree as you see fit! 

Since I started the blog in 2015 I have often championed the underdog or the under appreciated. The Carry On series employed hundreds of cracking comedy actors during their twenty year lifespan and while I've done my best to celebrate as many of them as possible, there is still much to do to preserve their legacy. Some of the actors featured in this new series will be household names and leading lights, others perhaps not so well known. Whoever they are, I hope you enjoy reading about my chosen few.

The first in this series saw me write about my love for Kenneth Connor's role as Horace Strong in Carry On Sergeant and then, moving forward to later in 1958, we focused on Kenneth Williams in Carry On Nurse. My star of Carry On Teacher, released in 1959, was that wonderful character actress Rosalind Knight, playing strict school inspector Felicity Wheeler and my star of Carry On Constable was the debuting Sidney James. More recently I decided that my star turn from Carry On Regardless was that man Kenneth Connor again and as for Carry On Cruising, well Dilys Laye was my top pick. Today we're moving on to look at my all time favourite in the series, the brilliant Carry On Cabby.

So who is my ultimate star of the film - of course it's got to be Mrs Glam herself, the super Hattie Jacques. 

Out of all Hattie's roles in the series, the central role of Peggy Hawkins in Cabby was her very favourite and it's not hard to see why. For once, Hattie wasn't playing the bombastic, severe Matron and nor was she the but of all the jokes about her size. Peggy Hawkins was a passionate, intelligent woman who wanted to progress herself in life, with or without the support of her husband. Frustrated by Charlie Hawkins' obsession with his taxi firm and rather old fashioned views on women in the workplace, Peggy goes behind his back and sets up a rival cab firm which employs only women. Glamcabs soon steals most of the business "from under their smug male noses". 

Carry On Cabby is the closest the series comes to a dramedy - comedy and drama brought together in an effective mix. At the centre of Cabby is the delighful, deep and extremely believable relationship between husband and wife Charlie and Peggy - beautifully brought to life by Sid and Hattie. While I always prefer Sid and Joan Sims together on screen, Sid and Hattie are just irresistible together in Cabby. When their marriage comes under strain, it feels genuine and the performances heartfelt. This takes Cabby some way from the usual Carry On fare and miles away from most of the films that followed. Don't get me wrong, Cabby still has many of the qualities fans admire in the series - plenty of saucy humour, classic comedy performances, slapstick and lots of lovely GlamCab drivers…

Hattie is an absolute joy as Peggy. The film is most definitely hers. It's a performance of terrific spirit and energy and Jacques dominates the film. Apart from her wonderful relationship with onscreen husband Sid, Hattie also works really well with Liz Fraser - they make for very believable best friends. Hattie is also great with the lovely little Esma Cannon and the two form a formidable double act. It's so refreshing to see Hattie given a role that allows the gifted actress to emerge and show the audience just how good she was. Of course Hattie's next role in the series would see her return to the comfortable confines of her memorable Matron, but Peggy Hawkins will always tower above all the rest.

At the end of the film, Peggy and Sally are put in peril by a fiendish bunch of criminals and it's Charlie and Ted (Connor) to the rescue. All is well in the end and the film gets the usual happy Carry On finale. Does this mean Cabby is not a feminist Carry On after all? I doubt the Carry Ons could ever be described as feminist films although without question the female characters are much sharper and more on the ball while the men are all a bit thick! Cabby is the closest the series comes to grit and kitchen sink drama, popular themes at the time of release. That's not why I love it though. I love Carry On Cabby for the strength of the story, the warmth of the performances and the joy of seeing Hattie grab a role that allowed her talents and quality as an actress to shine.

Sadly Cabby would be the last film Hattie Jacques made with the team for over four years. The popularity of her role in the Eric Sykes BBC comedy series "Sykes And A..." together with a desire to pursue other projects meant that the next seven films in the franchise would lack her own very special comedic gifts.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram  

Saturday 20 April 2019

Happy Birthday Leslie Phillips!

Today marks the inimitable Leslie Phillips' 95th birthday! I cannot quite believe someone like the wonderful Leslie is now reaching such a grand old age. 

Sadly Leslie has not been in the greatest health in recent times but I hope he does manage to enjoy his special day. As you will all know Leslie appeared in three classic Carry Ons from the early days of the series before popping back for a cameo in Columbus in 1992. He is also well known for appearing in many other classic British films including several of the Doctor series and films co-starring with Stanley Baxter. 

More recently Leslie played opposite Peter O'Toole in a funny, moving and incredibly poignant film, Venus in 2006, yet again showing that actors we tend to place in particular pigeon holes can always surprise us with what they are capable of doing.

When Pinewood Studios celebrated its 70th anniversary, Leslie played a bit part in those celebrations, being the only actor still alive who had worked at the famous studios from the very beginning. In a career spanning seven decades, he is indeed a true legend of British film and part of our illustrious comedy heritage.

So I'll be raising a glass to our lovely Leslie today. Many Happy Returns!

Ding Dong, Carry On!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan 

Thursday 18 April 2019

Carrying On with … Crooks in Cloisters!

It's time to take a look at yet another classic British comedy film with strong Carry On connections. Crooks in Cloisters, made in 1963 and starring Ronald Fraser, has recently premiered on the ever excellent channel, Talking Pictures TV. So it seems the perfect time to  feature it on Carry On Blogging. 

What's it about?

After pulling off a small train robbery, 'Little Walter' and his gang are forced to hide out on a remote Cornish island in an abandoned monastery, disguised as monks. With them comes 'Bikini' (Walter's girlfriend, who is given the job of cook to the group, despite never having cooked in her life. After a few initial setbacks, they slowly adjust to their new contemplative life of tending animals and crops, surviving the added tribulations of visits by a group of tourists and two of the real monks who had been forced to sell the monastery after falling on hard times, including Brother Lucius.

Gradually the gang adjusts to its new pastoral life, which turns out to be much to their liking. A return to a life In the city less appealing by the day. With the help of Phineas, a fisherman, they continue to receive and dispose of stolen goods. The crooks change and are kinder and gentler but 'Brother' Squirts begins to place bets on the dogs and the police become suspicious. When Walter decides it is safe to leave none of them want to go including Willy (Hayes), who has fallen for June, Phineas's granddaughter; these two manage to get away safely together. Walter gives the deeds of the island to the real monks who had originally owned the island and just as the rest of the gang say goodbye they see the police waiting for them.

Carry On Faces?

I can't go much further without mentioning Barbara Windsor's leading role as Bikini. Following her great success in Sparrow's Can't Sing, Barbara was hot property and this film showed off her comedic flair. It's no surprise that she was soon cast in a Carry On. Co-starring with Barbara is her Carry On Spying pal Bernard Cribbins. Bernard also starred in Carry On Jack and Columbus.

Future King Rat and all round entertainer Davy Kaye plays Specs in the film. He had supporting roles in two Carry Ons - as the Undertaker in Carry On Cowboy and Benny the Bookmaker in At Your Convenience. Future Carry On England and Carry On Laughing actor Melvyn Hayes appears as Willy. Hayes was already a star thanks to appearances in several Cliff Richard films. And future Steptoe and Son legend Wilfrid Brambell co-stars as Phineas. Wilfrid had a rather brief if memorable cameo in Carry On Again Doctor in 1969.

Two further, small mentions to make. Norman Chappell, an instantly recognisable character actor, plays Benson in Crooks in Cloisters. Norman played Albright in Carry On Cabby and returned for small roles in Carry On Henry and Carry On Laughing. He was also in Carry On Loving but sadly his role was cut from the final print. Finally, future Dad's Army great Arnold Ridley appears in the role of a Newsagent. Arnold went on to cameo in Carry On Girls as a councillor ten years later.

Did You Know?

The film features early supporting roles for two future stars - Francesca Annis plays Wilfrid Brambell's daughter June while Corin Redgrave, part of the famous Redgrave acting dynasty crops up as Brother Lucius.

Barbara Windsor credits Bernard Cribbins as helping her a great deal during the making of Crooks in Cloisters. The pair became close friends and met up again the same year in Carry On Spying, Barbara's first in the series.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram  

Listen Again: Play it Cool

If you are looking for a diversion this weekend and can't find anything on the telly (apart from all the Carry Ons on ITV£3 that is) then why not check out this vintage comedy series on the always excellent BBC Radio 4 Extra?

There are currently several episodes available to listen again to online and as the series stars a certain Joan Sims, it must be worth checking out. First broadcast in July 1964 on the Light Programme, Play it Cool was produced by that master of radio comedy, John Simmonds. Starring alongside Joan are those two wonderful comedy actors Ian Carmichael and Hugh Paddick.

Ian shot to fame thanks to starring roles in films such as Private's Progress, I'm All Right Jack and Double Bunk, while Hugh is of course much loved for his appearances as part of the regular cast in radio's Beyond Our Ken, Round The Horne and Stop Messing About. Joan of course needs no introduction.

Play it Cool was Ian's first radio comedy series and promised fast moving sketches, a plethora of comedy characters and a variety of 'potty and pompous' situations. It's written by the brilliant Eric Merriman and as was often the case at the time, musical interludes are provided by the likes of Rosemary Squires, The Mike Sammes Singers and The Ken Thorne Orchestra.

If you want to have a listen you can find it here.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram