Friday, 29 March 2019

Four Years of Carry On Blogging!

It's not Brexit Day, it's Carry On Blogging day. Well something like that. Four years ago today I came to the random decision to write a blog about my love of the classic Carry On series of British film comedies. It wasn't part of a strategic plan and I certainly didn't have a Backstop, Matron!

I had tweeted through the @CarryOnJoan account for a year or so and thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with other Carry On fans. It all took off far faster than I ever dared to imagine and I now have 18.6K followers. Moving from 140 odd characters to thought-through blog pieces on all manner of things was a big step though but I'm ever so glad I did it. It is a proper labour of love and sometimes real life does get in the way of all the fun but four years later I'm still at it ;)

The main reason I keep blogging is the interaction it leads to with fellow fans on the internet every day. The internet has perhaps become an increasingly dark and dodgy place but my involvement with it through Carry On Blogging has been (nearly always) a complete and utter joy. 

So four years in, I've nearly 19 thousand followers on Twitter and I've published the best part of 2000 original blog posts. At times it's been a deeply personal take on the Carry On films and how they affected me as I grew up and why I treasure them still. As a fan, writing these blogs on my laptop in my pyjamas, it's quite extraordinary that the blog has enabled me to interview the likes of Valerie Leon, Robin Askwith, Judy Matheson, Juliet Mills, Julian Holloway, Elke Sommer and Patricia Franklin. And through the blog I've met and interviewed superb people like Morris Bright, Amanda Barrie, Fenella Fielding, Madeline Smith and Anita Harris. Not bad for a boy who used to collect Cinema Club VHS tapes from the Woolies Bargain Bin! 

I was thinking about the Carry Ons and their legacy quite seriously recently following my interview with the fantastic journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed. Samira is a fan of some of the films and certainly many of the actors and yet she also struggles with aspects of their content, when viewed with a modern eye. The most troubling comment Samira made was regarding the future lifespan of the films. She questioned whether the Carry Ons would survive in the consciousness of the nation. Do they have such a collective cultural pull that they will always be cherished and never forgotten? Until Samira raised that issue I confess I hadn't given it that much thought. I am sure generations to come will not understand the humour or recognise the ever so talented faces who brought the films so brilliantly to life. That makes me sad but that's life and time is passing. 

Sadly the Carry Ons are mainly mentioned these days when one of the actors who appeared in them passes away. Last year we lost far too many familiar Cary On faces and for me, with the death of Dame June Whitfield in December, we really did reach the end of an era. Despite this I think it's important to continue cherishing our rich comedy heritage in this country. I started this blog mainly as a tribute to the tremendous Carry On actresses and supporting actors who never really got the credit they deserved either at the time or within their lifetimes. Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Patsy Rowlands, Peter Gilmore, Esma Cannon, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Amelia Bayntun, Joan Hickson, Bill Maynard, Dilys Laye…the list goes on. I loved them all and although the vast majority are now long gone, they still feel so very much with us thanks to their gloriously big, colourful, comic performances in the Carry Ons. They deserve to be remembered so fondly and I will continue to do so. 

So forget Brexit, if only for the day, and pick out your favourite Carry On film. Stick it in the DVD player or whatever fiendish device you own, sit back, relax and enjoy a Britain that never really existed but goodness, wouldn't it have been nice if it had? What will I be watching? I think on this weird old day, a bit of Carry On Up The Khyber feels just about perfect.

Carry On, and thanks for all the fun.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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