Saturday, 26 May 2018

Classic Horror Nights with Madeline Smith!

The delightful Madeline Smith, a good friend to this blog, will be appearing at a special screening of one of best remembered horror films next June. The Colchester Arts Centre will be showing the 1974 film Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell on 7th June.

Starring the legendary Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein and Shane Briant as Dr Simon Helder, Madeline co-stars in the role of Sarah "Angel" Klauss. There are reliable supporting turns from the likes of Norman Mitchell, Sydney Bromley and Michael Ward, all familiar Carry On faces. Also look out for David Prowse, playing the monster for the second time on screen. The film was directed by Terence Fisher and produced by Roy Skeggs for Hammer films.

The film will be followed by a special Question and Answer session with Madeline herself, as she discusses the making of the film, her co-stars and her wider career. I know from experience just what a warm, delightful and eloquent person Madeline is so it is bound to be a lively and thoroughly entertaining evening. 

Madeline is best known to comedy fans for her appearances alongside the late great Frankie Howerd on film and television as well as her role as Mrs Pullitt in Carry On Matron. Other film roles have included Theatre of Blood, The Vampire Lovers and the James Bond epic, Live and Let Die. On the small screen Madeline has appeared in the likes of The Persuaders, The Two Ronnies and All Creatures Great and Small. 

Doors open at 7pm with the film beginning at 7.30. And the rule at the door is "pay what you can afford" which I think is lovely. 

I interviewed Madeline for the blog back in September 2016 and you can read that here

And last June I attended a special illustrated talk from Madeline on her life and career and you can read all about that here

Find out more about this special evening and about the Colchester Arts Centre here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Friday, 25 May 2018

My Top 20 Favourite Carry On Actors - Number 10: Bernard Bresslaw

This is part of a brand new series of blogs where I will take a purely personal look at my favourite Carry On actors. I will be doing a countdown of my top twenty actors and actresses in this, the sixtieth anniversary year of Carry On. So why top twenty? Well top ten didn't allow me to include all my favourites and any more than twenty and I'd be at it forever, as it were.

This top twenty will be a mix of regular top team actors and many of those instantly recognisable supporting actors who popped in and out of the series, adding superb cameos here and there. You will probably agree with some of my main choices and be vehemently opposed to others, but it's meant to encourage debate! 

So we are now half way through my countdown of my all-time favourite Carry On actors. The first half of the list featured mainly supporting actors who popped in and out several times throughout the films, from the likes of Joan Hickson and Cyril Chamberlain to Margaret Nolan and Peter Gilmore. Now obviously the Top Ten is going to focus on the main team members as there aren't any I can conceivably leave out.

So here we go with Number Ten: a brilliant character actor who excelled at both dimwitted sidekicks and crumbling, fearsome villains - Bernard Bresslaw.

It was hard to decide which of the main team would bring up the rear, as it were. I love them all and I do love Bernie. He was a main player in the Carry Ons for a decade, appearing in fourteen films between 1965 and 1975 as well as many television specials and even a stage show in the West End of London. A quiet, intelligent family man away from the films, less in known about Bresslaw due to the apparent lack of scandal in his personal life. This is unfair really, as he should be celebrated for the superb character comedy actor and brilliant stage actor he so obviously was.

For me though, almost like Barbara Windsor, Bernard was unfortunately stuck in quite limited roles in the Carry Ons which do not allow him to show his true range or natural intelligence. He is either the slow, dimwitted mate to the likes of Sid James (Doctor, Camping, Convenience and Girls) or fierce, snarling villains (Camel, Khyber). He is undoubtedly brilliant in all his Carry On roles but I wish he hadn't been so stereotyped. Having said that, I love his interaction with Sid, Joan and Dilys in Carry On Camping. His innocence in the face of the worldly Sid is a joy to behold.

Likewise, Bernie works so well opposite love interest Dilys Laye in Carry On Doctor. They make a delightful romantic pairing and I only wish we'd had more scenes with them in that excellent film. As a similarly slow sidekick to Kenneth Cope's irritating little union leader in At Your Convenience, Bernard provides another wonderful comedy contrast and even manages a romantic interlude with the delicious Maggie Nolan on the Brighton Pier ghost train to boot!

Bernard, much like Peter Butterworth, was never billed particularly highly in the Carry Ons despite his unfailing support and the quality of his performances. Probably one of my favourites of all his performances was that of Ernie is Carry On Matron. Yes he's playing the stereotypical thick character once again, but there's a beautiful gentle quality to his performance even though he's part of a criminal gang. Bernard works so well with Sid, Kenneth Cope and Bill Maynard. The highlight for me is when Bernie drags up as an expectant mother for the raid of the maternity hospital! It's so delightfully bonkers! Bernard, unlike co-star Sid James, seemed to relish an appearance in drag in the Carry Ons. Who can forget his dragged up beauty contest entrant in Carry On Girls? Or his carol singing school girl in the 1969 Carry On Christmas television special?!

Bernard Bresslaw was the quiet, diligent, unstarry member of the Carry On team. For ten years he turned up at Pinewood again and again, putting in reliably funny, believable performances as an integral part of the Carry On repertory company. I have no doubt that Bernie's heart lay in the serious theatre as the latter half of his career demonstrates. I for one am glad he continued to appear in the Carry Ons as they provide a lasting legacy for one of our most unsung comedy acting heroes in Britain. Good on you, Bernie!

So Bernard Bresslaw comes in at Number 10 in my top twenty list of favourite actors. Who'll be next? 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Connor Carries On … As Major Leap

Next month will mark Kenneth Connor's centenary. This feels like the right time to celebrate the man's legacy and what better a legacy that his seventeen glorious performances in the Carry On films. As I've already done with the three main leading ladies of the series, I plan to embark on a series of blogs profiling each of Kenneth's roles in the Carry Ons, giving my own take on his contributions.

Kenneth is another one of those actors who worked steadily, prolifically and across all mediums throughout his career. From his very early days in film before the outbreak of World War Two, through the 1950s which saw him become an integral part of British radio comedy to the Carry Ons and his unforgettable roles in several 1980s sitcoms, Connor was an incredibly gifted actor. He worked right up until his death at the age of 75 in November 1993. However unlike Sid, Kenneth Williams or Barbara Windsor, I feel that Connor never really got the credit he deserved. He didn't have an outrageous private life, no scandals to be told. He shunned the limelight and his many performances as the ordinary man in the street mirrored his own life away from the cameras. 

Kenneth was also one of the precious few actors who's career spanned pretty much the entire run of the Carry Ons. He was there at the very beginning in Carry On Sergeant and, a five year gap in the mind 1960s aside, remained loyal to the films until the very end of the original run in 1978. Connor, along with Williams and Eric Barker were the only actors to appear in the very first and the very last of the series. Kenneth was still around when Columbus was made in 1992 but declined to take part, probably very wisely. This new series of blogs will be a celebration of all those wonderful comedy performances in the Carry Ons - from bumbling romantic lead through to crumbling character parts, Kenneth could play them all.

So let's continue with Kenneth's fifteenth role in the series, as Major Leap in the 1975 film, Carry On Behind!

In 1975, after the departure of so many of the leading lights from the series (James, Jacques, Windsor and writer Talbot Rothwell) what was left of the gang reconvened for an update on the classic Carry On Camping. In Carry On Behind, several familiar looking characters went off for a summer holiday at a caravan park. As with Camping, Behind was filmed not in summer but in the early spring so the weather was less than pleasant for all involved - the mud and freezing temperatures clearly visible for most of the film!

Behind is a real hotchpotch of sitcom sequences with no real storyline to speak of - just a bunch of English eccentrics delighting in some increasingly filthy innuendos! Unlike some of the period costume Carry Ons, Behind, set in the grimy world of the mid-1970s really hasn't aged well but lovers of seventies kitch will adore it! I admit I have a real soft spot for this film and it's become something of a guilty pleasure. For me it  is the last proper Carry On ever made. It's certainly much more naughty than previous efforts with much more obvious sexual references and a fair sprinkling of nudity. The whole thing feels much more like a Confessions film, and you can tell Peter Rogers was trying to keep the Carry Ons up to speed with the latest developments at the box office. 

The film features a mix of old faces and newcomers and it is really the cast which carries the film home. As well as regulars Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Jack Douglas, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims and Patsy Rowlands, I also really enjoy the performances from the likes of Windsor Davies, Carol Hawkins, Ian Lavender, Sherrie Hewson and of course, international guest star Elke Sommer. 

So what about Kenneth Connor's role in the film? Kenneth returns to a major starring role in Behind following his brief cameo role in the previous film, Carry On Dick. Major Leap, the owner of the caravan site the main characters all descend upon, is a rather upper-crust army type with a randy side and an eye for the ladies! Much like his character Stanley Blunt in Carry On Abroad, Major Leap is a picture of frustrated middle-aged British male. Kenneth's comic timing is sublime as ever and he pops up regularly throughout the action which is great as he gets scenes with the vast majority of the cast. 

The poor old Major tries it on with everyone from Carol Hawkins and Sherrie Hewson to Joan Sims and Elke Sommer, getting absolutely nowhere. Yes it's not exactly subtle material but Dave Freeman's script does well to follow on from the sterling work from the now absent Talbot Rothwell. Kenneth and Joan in particular, two old stagers of the Carry Ons dating back to the black and white days, work splendidly together as Leap attempts to woo Daphne Barnes with a few drinks down the pub and some military music back at his caravan to get her in the mood! Kenneth also enjoys a running gag with Peter Butterworth's lowly camp handyman, who turns out to be Joan's long lost husband at the end of the film. Kenneth and Peter are superb together and it's clear to see the two actors were the best of friends off screen as they work incredibly well in this film. Kenneth's airs and graces contrast beautifully with the bumbling, grimy Peter B!

In a film which misses the likes of Barbara Windsor, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques and Sid James, the importance of actors like Kenneth Connor cannot be understated. Connor, having rejoined the gang in the late 1960s, provides much needed continuity and the smaller cast of recognisable regulars gives Kenneth more screen time and more material to work with. As the series began to fade by the second half of the 1970s his presence would become more and more important. 

Connor is also involved in the farcical, climatic sequence at the end of the film which sees his character unveil his brand new clubhouse complete with over-painted sticky chairs and some rather unexpected entertainment in the shapely shape of a stripper played by Jenny Cox. Kenneth is a brilliantly funny mix of shame, embarrassment  and lechery as he watches the chaos unfold alongside his electrician (a fantastic cameo from Larry Martyn). Despite it all ending in utter failure as the party guests leave with dignity in shreds, Connor's Major Leap comes up trumps as he heads for the exit door with Jenny's dancer! 

The end of Carry On Behind is always a bit misty-eyed for me. Yes it's a knockabout farce which edges the series ever closer to Confessions territory but for me, Dave Freeman does an excellent job of maintaining the community feel of the earlier pictures. As Kenneth greets the various groups of holidaymakers as they leave his campsite, it really does feel like the end of an era. Audiences of the time wouldn't know it, but Behind really was the last film in the series to feature such a familiar, ensemble cast. The final two films in the original series would both feature Kenneth Connor in starring roles so we'll carry on with them next.

Stay tuned for my blog on Kenneth Connor's next role in the series, in the 1976 film Carry On England.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Carry On Originals: Cyril Chamberlain

This is part of a new series of blogs looking back at the stars of the original Carry On film, Carry On Sergeant. 2018 marks 60 years since Sergeant was made and released so what better time to turn the focus on all those brilliant actors who brought our favourite series of comedy films to life? 

I'm continuing today with an actor who never quite became a household name, despite appearing in countless post-war British films, Cyril Chamberlain. 

Role in Carry On Sergeant: Gun Sergeant

Other Carry On roles: Bert Able in Carry On Nurse; Alf Hudson in Carry On Teacher; Thurston in Carry On Constable; Policeman in Carry On Regardless; Tom Tree in Carry On Cruising and Sarge in Carry On Cabby. 

Other notable film performances: Among Cyril's 160 screen credits are several Doctor films (In the House, At Sea, At Large, In Love) for Betty Box and several other films for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas, including Please Turn Over, as Mr Jones; a Guard in Upstairs and Downstairs (1959); a Porter in Raising The Wind (1961) and Mrs Webb's Teammate in The Iron Maiden (1962).

Best remembered for: Alongside Kenneth Connor, Cyril was a regular presence in first seven Carry On films. 

Did you know?: Apparently Cyril had a small, uncredited part in the 1964 film Carry On Spying however despite repeated screenings I'm yet to spot him!

Following his retirement, Cyril spent his last years indulging his love of antiques and restoring antique furniture.

What happened to him?: Sadly Cyril died at the age of 65 in December 1974. He was married to the actress Lisa Lee and together they had one child. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Sheila Hancock stars as Edie

The hugely talented actress Sheila Hancock has a new film coming out later this week. Edie, directed by Simon Hunter, sees Hancock take on a challenging starring role. After her controlling husband dies, an elderly woman embarks on a trip to fulfill her longtime dream of climbing a mountain in the Scottish Highlands.

Sheila Hancock is at her sublime best as Edie, an elderly woman who, in the aftermath of her husband's death, decides to climb Mount Suilven. Against her daughter's wishes, she heads to Scotland and employs Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) to help her get the right equipment and train her for the gruelling climb. AS the pair talk, bicker and have fun, they reveal more about their lives to each other, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.

I find Sheila such a watchable, naturally gifted actor and I've been lucky enough to see her on stage several times in recent years. She never disappoints. She is also an entertaining and incredibly eloquent personality off stage, regularly appearing on television and radio and having written several brilliant books. Of course, many years ago Sheila also popped down to Pinewood Studios for her ground breaking role as Senna Pod, wife to Hengist (Kenneth Connor) in the 1964 Carry On epic, Carry On Cleo! And Sheila was one of the few actresses to meet Kenneth Williams head on on stage and come away with a no score draw! The pair starred in a theatrical revue in the early 1960s called One Over the Eight. Thankfully they became lifelong friends.

I think it's very refreshing to see an actress in her 80s take centre stage in a feature film and I certainly cannot wait to check this film out soon!

You can find out more about the film and go behind the scenes via the official website here

Edie is released in cinemas across the UK on 25 May. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Monday, 21 May 2018

The Gerald Thomas Archive: Cast Correspondence from Again Doctor

Last month I made a rather delayed trip (thank you British weather) to the British Film Institute on London's Southbank. As I've mentioned over on Twitter, the BFI hold the entire Gerald Thomas archive which is chock full of delightful artifacts from Gerald's long, varied and illustrious career in British film. I was quite frankly dazzled by the array of material on offer and have only managed to flick through a fraction of it, but this blog today is the start of several pieces looking at different aspects of what I've had the very good fortune to see.

Following on from my first blog on Gerald's Scrapbook for Carry On Abroad and my second on the Carry On Abroad Draft Script . I have also, more recently, written a blog about the correspondence between the artist Terence "Larry" Parkes and Peter Rogers about the work he'd been asked to do for the titles of Carry On Doctor. 

Today I'm moving forward a couple of years to another medical Carry On - Carry On Again Doctor, which was filmed in the spring of 1969 and marked Jim Dale's last contribution to the series until his return for Columbus in 1992. As with many of the other films in the archive, I found the correspondence between the actors and their paymasters the most fascinating evidence to read though. And the correspondence over contracts for Again Doctor definitely delivered in spades.

Let's start with the man who brought Dr Jimmy Nookey to life in the film, Jim Dale. Jim was paid £3250 for six weeks work in what was really the starring role in the film. There is considerable correspondence on file regarding a medical claim following an injury Jim had suffered on set. This was either the infamous run away hospital trolley sequence or the scene which saw Dale fall through a rotten floor on a hammock. He really did suffer for his art! A note from Peter Rogers on 7 August 1969 details his position:

Regarding Jim Dale's medical expenses, I don't think that we should be responsible for every pill and laxative if the insurance people don't cough up, do you? Whatever was wrong with Jim Dale was the result of an accident on the floor and I understand that we were covered in this respect. 

Rogers was certainly the money man behind the films and this note gives us a real insight into the serious side of churning out such wonderfully funny, popular films. Part of Peter's note concerns the extra expense involved in the delays caused by Jim's accident and trip to hospital to be checked out. It involved other actors on set - Sid James, Valerie Leon and Elizabeth Knight - being contracted on for extra time, and where Peter was most concerned, extra money too!

Next up is a contract for my favourite Carry On actress, the wonderful Joan Sims. Joan, who was paid her usual £2500 for six weeks playing wealthy widow Ellen Moore, had a clause in her contract which allowed her time out to record episodes of the radio series, then titled "It's Bold" with Kenneth Williams each Monday morning for the BBC. Attached to her contract is a personal letter from Joan, dated 4 May 1969 and written on Joan's own personal stationery:

My dear Peter,

Thank you so much for a really wonderful party on Friday. It was a great send off for us all.

Bless you, 

Love, Joan

The famed camaraderie between the actors and producers of the Carry Ons is justly legendary and even though pay was sometimes an issue, there is no doubting the shared affection and kindness here. Hattie Jacques, appearing as Matron once again in the film, was paid £3000 for the part despite being billed below Joan and actually having less screen time. She too attended the party Joan so obviously enjoyed as can be seen in this charming personal note:

Darling Peter,

I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed myself last Friday. Thank you, dearest Guv, for a lovely lunch and a simply gorgeous time. And thank you too for having me in your picture.

Fondest love,


It was quite a moment to handle notes from two of my favourite actresses and also interesting to see how, despite being a regular in Peter's films for over a decade by this point, Hattie still seems thrilled to have been asked to do it. 

Turning the pages, I came upon a type written note signed by none other than the brilliant, iconic and elusive Mr Charles Hawtrey. Written from his home at the time in Kew, he too waxed lyrical about the cast party:

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your wonderful luncheon party at the Mirabelle yesterday. The food - the wines - the company - all of which seemed so appropriate after what was generally agreed to be the happiest production. Whilst you remained, undeniably, our gracious host, you complimented us, not to say delighted, by being one of our motley lot. 

With love from,
Your expected but never let it be said rejected,


Although there were already rumblings of unhappiness from Charles over some aspects of the Carry On experience, at this stage at least, he seems content to be part of the gang. Hawtrey received £3500 for his role as Dr Stoppidge and as usual received his no less than fourth star billing in the film, as stipulated in his contract.

There were further medical concerns around another actor during the making of Again Doctor. Alexandra Dane, probably best remembered for her role as Busti in Carry On Up The Khyber, played a small cameo role as a "Stout Woman" in the 1969 medical comedy. Alexandra was paid the princely sum of £30 for the wordless role which saw her spun round on an out of control weight reducing device. There is correspondence between Dane's agent Max Kester of Foster's Agency and Peter Rogers over an accident on set. Apparently the contraption Alexandra was seen in gave way and she fell, hurting her hip. According to a note included from director Gerald Thomas, Alexandra was sent to the Pinewood nurse who then decided to send her on to Wexham Park Hospital for further treatment.

Max Kester wrote to Peter and Gerald several days later concerning his client's medical expenses and another little matter…

I am presuming that in accordance with our conversation, her name will be included on the actors credit list. It has been included before but was omitted in Carry On Screaming.

I think this demonstrates an agent earning his cut while it also shows up the frailties and little details of being a jobbing actor. Obviously gaining an on screen credit would be very important for a new young actress as it would get her name about, as it were. It was news to me that Alexandra featured in Screaming, indeed I can't ever remember seeing her on screen.

The actress Patricia Franklin, who had made her Carry On debut the previous year in Carry On Camping, was apparently cast as a Night Nurse in Carry On Again Doctor. Her contract is included in the file with it agreed with Busby Smith Management that the actress would receive £30 for the part. The contract has cancelled stamped across it and I couldn't remember seeing her in the finished film. The contract also noted that Miss Franklin was then appearing in a play at the Royal Court Theatre at Sloane Square. When I spoke with Patricia recently (you can read our interview here) she did remember being cast in the role, adding that her agent at the time was Greg Smith, soon to become the producer of the Confessions films. Patricia was not able to take on the role in the end due to her work at the Royal Court in a play by Edward Bond.

Another actress who had debuted in Camping and came back for more fun with the gang was the late Elizabeth Knight. Liz was cast as a casualty nurse in Again Doctor and is only seen very briefly during Wilfrid Brambell's cameo in the film. Apparently the role Knight was cast in was due to be bigger however most of her scenes were sadly cut. She was paid £50 a day for the role with a guaranteed sum of £200 agreed with Peter Rogers. Brambell meanwhile, then a big star thanks to Steptoe and Son, was paid a special one off fee of £100 for his wordless cameo as Mr Pullen.

Peter Butterworth, then a series regular, made the first of several small, often uncredited cameos in the Carry Ons. In Again Doctor he played a shuffling patient in a scene with Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore. Butterworth was given the "special low rate" of £125 for his one day on the film. Patsy Rowlands, who would become a series regular over the course of the next six years, made her debut in Again Doctor as Kenneth Williams' assistant, Miss Fosdick. Patsy was paid £60 a day for this role, with a guaranteed sum of £720 for the entire film. 

Aside from Patricia Franklin's casting issue, there were other problems with the casting for Again Doctor. Apparently an actress called Myrtle Reed was due to play a character called Mrs Rigby at £40 per week - the first I've ever heard of either the actress or the character. Pat Coombs, who was paid £60 over the course of a week to play the New Matron towards the end of the film wasn't originally meant to play that part at all. Pat replaced familiar semi-regular actress Ambrosine Phillpotts although there are no reasons specified for Ambrosine stepping aside from the role. Pat had been cast as Miss Armitage, the troublesome patient who gets an eyeful of Dr Nookey, eventually played by the actress Ann Lancaster. 

Valerie Shute, who had several small roles in the Carry Ons, played a nurse in Again Doctor.    There is a note on file from Gerald Thomas to an Al Shute of Warner Pathe regarding her potential casting in the film:

Thank you for your note and enclosed photograph. I must say it is the most I've ever seen of Valerie! We commence shooting again on March 17th and you can be sure that we will find a nice little 'nurse' part for Valerie.

I was also thrilled to come across a hand written note from one of my favourite character actors of the era, the great Harry Locke. Harry cropped up in countless films during the 1940s, 50s and 60s and featured in three of the medical Carry Ons - Nurse, Doctor and finally Again Doctor. On the lookout for work, Harry wrote to Peter before the casting of Again Doctor:

I was talking to Talbot Rothwell Esq on Sunday about the new script and he said he would mention me when next he saw you…I hope you may have something for me - I have so much enjoyed working with the boys…

Harry was in luck as he was soon cast in the role of the hospital porter, a role than earned him £60. It's intriguing to see actors 'write in' to Peter and Gerald to remind them that they are around and ready to work. In such a fickle business, before the internet and the existence of social media, it must have been an essential part of life as a jobbing actor. 

On a rather sad note, there is also a sad little letter from the actress Lucy Griffiths in the Again Doctor file. Lucy played small parts in quite a few Carry Ons - the trolley lady in Nurse, an excitable neighbour with Leslie Phillips in Constable and a hospital patient in Doctor - and she was once again a patient in bed in a very brief scene in Again Doctor which sees her headphones explode. Lucy wrote to Gerald Thomas about that part on 20th January 1970:

Dear Gerry,

I am delighted to find my 'bit' picked for the trailer of 'Doctor Again'. It happened once before too! So now I really feel perhaps I'm doing a minute 'bit' to help sell the picture and that I belong. I do hope that you will want me more continuously and more often (perhaps bigger bits). It's a happy experience working for you.

…I'm struggling to rebuild my acting career. Spotlight believe in me and are doing their best to help. I can act, I've got to act and that's it.

This letter from Lucy Griffiths provides an example of how tough it can be to survive in the acting profession. Obviously struggling (there are parts of the letter I decided not to share) Lucy is quite determined to continue doing the job she loved and in a not so subtle way hoping Gerry might help her out. Lucy did work for the Carry On people again however her scenes in Loving (filmed the same year she wrote that note) were deleted and her final association with the team in 1975's Carry On Behind, was an uncredited role with no dialogue. You can read more about the life and career of Lucy Griffiths here: Carry On Blogging: Whatever Happened to Lucy Griffiths?

Stay tuned for the next in my series of special blogs on Gerald's archive coming up soon!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

Meet Valerie Leon at the Film and Comic Con Birmingham!

If you happen to be in or around Birmingham on 2nd June, why not pop along to meet the very lovely Valerie Leon at the Showmasters Collectormania Film and Comic Con? Taking place at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre, Valerie will be appearing on the Saturday only.

Valerie will be signing autographs, meeting fans and taking part in paid photo shoots.

Valerie Leon has been appearing in films, television and on stage since the late 1960s. Her career has taken in all three of the most well-known, popular and long-lasting British film franchises: James Bond, Hammer Horror and of course, Carry On. Valerie appeared opposite the late Sir Roger Moore in the 1977 James Bond epic, The Spy Who Loved Me. Six years later she worked with Sean Connery on the unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again.

Valerie took the dual leading role in the classic, cult Hammer Horror, Blood from the Mummy's Tomb in 1971 playing both Margaret and Tera. Valerie first appeared as one of the Harem girls in 1968's Carry On Up The Khyber before returning for roles as a Sales Assistant in Camping, Deirdre in Again Doctor and Leda in Up The Jungle. Valerie returned to the Carry Ons to play pregnant film star Jane Darling in Carry On Matron in 1971 before taking on her final role as Bernard Bresslaw's fiancee Paula in Carry On Girls, undergoing a remarkable transformation half way through the film!

On television, Valerie has appeared in many classic shows over the years. These have included guest roles in The Saint, The Avengers, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), The Persuaders and The Goodies.

So if you fancy the chance to meet one of the most iconic actresses of the 1960s and 1970s, Birmingham is the place to be! 

And you can find out more about Valerie career and what's she up to on her official website

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram