Thursday, 21 March 2019

Talking Pictures: Great British Comedies

This afternoon BBC2 repeated a great little documentary first shown a few years back. Talking Pictures, not to be confused with the brilliant Talking Pictures TV channel, is a series profiling well known names from the past in classic films both in Britain and beyond. Narrated by screen icon Sylvia Syms, this particular edition looked back at the glory days of British film comedy.

Featuring rarely-seen interviews and classic clips from the BBC archives, this episode sees many of our favourite stars take a bow. From the early pre and post war days of George Formby to the classic Ealing comedies, Carry On fans won't be disappointed as eventually both the Doctor and the Carry On series are covered. There is some archive footage of leading man Dirk Bogarde, giving a revealing and insightful interview for the BBC series Omnibus in 1983 and black and white clips of a young Joan Bakewell chatting with the legendary actor James Robertson Justice.

The programme then goes on to talk about the Carry Ons. Here we get some classic interviews from the 1970 Carry On Forever documentary which went behind the scenes of Carry On Up The Jungle. I've featured this show before, but it's always great to see the likes of Gerald Thomas, Sid James, Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey out of character and relaxed as themselves. It's a rare treat. 

The programme also touches on Peter Sellers' work on the Pink Panther films and later comedy efforts from the Monty Python films, the John Cleese picture A Fish Called Wanda and more recent films like Four Weddings and a Funeral. Anyway, never mind these also-rans, tune in for the classic clips of Bogarde, James and Sims. It's superb.

You can watch the programme here: Great British Comedies.

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