Thursday 4 April 2019

Jimmy Logan, Pride of the Clyde

The great Jimmy Logan was born on this day in 1928. Time flies, as we all know, but if dear Jimmy was still with us today he'd be the grand old age of 91. Sadly, Jimmy passed away back in April 2001 at the age of 73. He left behind a huge legacy not in theatre, film and television and remains one of Scotland's best loved performers.

Jimmy had a varied career but was probably best known for his theatrical performances. On the boards from a very young age, Jimmy first found fame during the war years. Logan was most at home working a live theatre audience and spent decades keeping the people of Scotland and much further afield, thoroughly entertained. Although primarily known for comedy, as with a great number of comedians (and I use that term loosely) Jimmy was also capable of many dramatic and deeply affecting performances over the years and was moving into some very interesting film work towards the end of his life.

To us though, Jimmy Logan is best remembered for his two Carry On appearances. Joining the team for Carry On Abroad in 1972, Jimmy played enthusiastic Scottish holidaymaker Bert Conway. I'm not sure what led Jimmy to be cast in the film, perhaps Peter Rogers wanted to extend the appeal of his film series across the border? Anyway, i think Jimmy was a breath of fresh air in Abroad and definitely added something different to the mix. Jimmy makes a great double act with Barbara Windsor and also spars effectively with his onscreen love rival, the wonderful Sid James. Jimmy's bright, breezy and energetic turn is a shot in the arm to the Carry Ons and in a cast full of great actors and brilliant comedy performances, he certainly stands out. 

Jimmy returned to the series the following year, however his guest starring role as the extraordinarily camp TV presenter Cecil Gaybody is less successful than his previous appearance. Obviously taking on a role originally written for Charles Hawtrey, who had left the series by then, Jimmy's over the top turn is not a favourite amongst fans. This is really no fault of Jimmy's and he himself admitted later on he didn't enjoy the role. What a shame. As with actors like Windsor Davies, I wish Jimmy had joined the team earlier in the run as I think he really did have something to add. He remained proud of his association with the films and often talked fondly of working with many of the Carry On team. He had worked with Peter Butterworth's wife Janet Brown as early as 1949 on the romantic drama Floodtide, and had been a fan of the likes of Sid James and Joan Sims for many years.

Jimmy was a favourite in pantomime for over fifty years, starting out in Dick Whittington in 1944. Some of Jimmy's other favourite stage roles included leading parts in productions of Death of a Salesman, The Entertainer, On Golden Pond and The Comedians. Such was Jimmy's love of the theatre that he even purchased one, the New Metropole, in 1964. With plans for a family friendly venue showcasing plays and musicals, it was initially a success but eventually failed financially and as a result Jimmy's career took a downward turn. Never one to let a setback like that hold him back, Jimmy devised a one man show on the life of the great Scottish entertainer Harry Lauder and it became one of his greatest successes. 

Awarded an OBE in the 1990s, Jimmy was well respected in the profession and by fans around the world. Jimmy Logan was also well regarded for his extensive charity work. They don't really make them like that anymore. So to pay tribute to Jimmy, why not stick Carry On Abroad on tonight and enjoy his fun, energetic performance as Bert Conway. 

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