Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Carrying On with Talking Pictures TV: Inn For Trouble and Take Two!

Talking Pictures TV are showing the wonderful comedy film Inn for Trouble this Wednesday. Peggy Mount and David Kossoff star as Ada and Alf Larkin in this big screen version of the hugely popular 1950s TV comedy. Alf Larkin has finally made good his dream to own a pub. The trouble is, it's got no customers. But leave it to the Larkins to find unorthodox ways to bring in the punters. 

Made in 1960, the film co-stars a range of wonderful British character comedy people - Esma Cannon, Leslie Phillips, Stanley Unwin, Irene Handl and a certain Charles Hawtrey. You can catch Inn for Trouble on Talking Pictures TV on Wednesday 22nd November at 12.00

And you can read another little blog I wrote on this film here: Carry On Blogging: They just don't make them like they used to

Also coming up this week on Talking Pictures TV are several episodes of the great series Take Two.
The series sees Elstree's Chairman and well-known film and television historian and broadcaster Morris Bright bring some famous faces from Elstree's past back to the studios to chat about their lives and careers. It's a joy to hear more from these actors, many of whom have Carry On connections. 

On Wednesday 22nd November at 10.55,  Goldfinger and Carry On Nurse actress Shirley Eaton goes back over her long career in film and television which takes in so many classic British titles. It's really interesting to hear why Shirley decided to retire from films at such a young age in 1969 but I'm glad she is still a presence in the business today.

And on Friday 24th November at 20.00 the gorgeous Madeline Smith chats with great relish about how she became an actress back in the 1960s and with great fondness about working with Frankie Howerd on the film version of Up Pompeii. It was great to hear Madeline say how thrilled she was to be in Carry On Matron and how she wished she had done more of the films. I would have liked that too! You can read my blog interview with Madeline here

FInally, an episode of Take Two I've not seen before, featuring the legendary actress Sylvia Syms. Sylvia has enjoyed a long career on film and television and worked with several members of the Carry On team in the 1965 crime caper classic, The Big Job. She is also soon to star opposite Carry On legend Amanda Barrie in a new feature film called Together. Sylvia's episode of Take Two is on Thursday 23rd November at 20.00

So if you haven't yet checked out this great series of interviews, please do. Let's hope another series is in the offing. 


You can read Part 1 of my recent interview with Morris Bright here and Part 2 here

You can follow Talking Picture TV on Twitter: here
Morris Bright is on Twitter here
Elstree Studios is on Twitter here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook

You can watch Talking Pictures TV on: Virgin 445 / Freeview 81 / Sky Channel 343 / Freesat 306 / Youview 81

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Favourites in Five: Odysseas from Art & Hue

I started a brand new series of blogs a few weeks ago, asking some of my favourite people to write in about the five most important influences on their lives from the world of theatre, film and television. You can read Sarah Miller Walters' wonderful blog here , actress Judy Matheson's super piece is here and blogger, author and Sid James fan Stuart Ball's blog is here

My most recent blog on this subject came from film director, Jason Figgis. You can read what he had to say here

Today it's the turn of my good friend Oydsseas, the brilliant talent behind Art & Hue.

Diana Rigg

Whilst Honor Blackman portrayed the first strong independent female character on British television, it was Diana Rigg who took it to another level globally when The Avengers was aired on American & European television. Smart, witty, and stylish (and with a mean karate chop), she embodied 1960s modernity and Swinging London around the world. Still fabulous at nearly 80 years old, and still working in quality film & television projects, she grants cult status to every project she's appeared in. 

Joan Collins
Unapologetically strong-minded and glamourous, Joan Collins is a real example of hard graft paying off, all whilst being beautiful and funny. From B-movies in the 1950s and cult TV shows in the 1960s, it was her racy 1970s films and Cinzano adverts that paid the bills until she owned the 80s as Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter. 

Joanna Lumley
From On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The New Avengers and Sapphire & Steel onwards, I could never understand why Joanna Lumley wasn't on our screens more. Captivating, funny, and beautiful, it was a delight to see her make fun of herself on Ruby Wax's show which led to her iconic creation of Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous. 

Audrey Hepburn
Charming, beautiful, kind, and funny, Audrey Hepburn's life may have started in difficult times but she brought pure joy through her films as well making a difference with her humanitarian work with UNICEF. 

Peter Hinwood  
An art student in Swinging London, Peter Hinwood initially modelled for fashion magazines and brands including John Stephen's Carnaby Street shops. A life-size image of him, wearing only swimwear, appeared in the dressing room of the first women's shop on Carnaby Street called Trecamp. After his memorable appearance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show wearing gold shorts, it's inspirational that he turned his back on entertainment and returned to his first love of art and antiques. Currently living in Morocco, his London and Tangiers homes have appeared in The World of Interiors (and you can follow him sharing images of his glam past, antique finds, and Moroccan life on Instagram at hinwood06).

Thanks very much to Odysseas for taking the time to write this wonderful guest blog. Please do check out the Art & Hue website here

You can follow Art & Hue on Twitter here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

Happy Birthday Juliet Mills!

Many happy returns to the lovely Juliet Mills who celebrates her birthday today! Juliet, who has lived in America for many years, is of course best remembered by us Carry On fans for her starring role as Sally in the 1963 naval comedy, Carry On Jack.

Appearing in the 2015 ITV documentary Carry On Forever, Juliet was reunited with co-star Bernard Cribbins, and made it clear she was very proud of her Carry On association and looks back on her time filming with great fondness. Something which is always lovely to hear. 

Juliet worked for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas on two more films around the time of Carry On Jack. The first was the comedy-drama Twice Round the Daffodils, which featured an all star cast of the likes of Donald Sinden, Kenneth Williams, Lance Percival, Sheila Hancock, Ronald Lewis and Joan Sims. Juliet also starred in the 1963 district nurse comedy, Nurse On Wheels, forming a lovely double act with Esma Cannon, playing her mother and again enjoying a romantic pairing on screen with Ronald Lewis.

Of course Juliet is the daughter of legendary British actor Sir John Mills and his wife, the actress and writer Mary Hayley Bell. Juliet's sister is the famous child star and leading lady Hayley Mills. Juliet has been a resident in the United States since the 1970s and has been married to the actor Maxwell Caulfield since 1980. She has appeared in countless films and television series over in America and continues to appear on stage and screen to this day.

Whatever Juliet is up to today, I hope she has a very happy birthday.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

Monday, 20 November 2017

Carrying On with Talking Pictures TV: Classic films showing this week!


1959 was a busy year for actress Liz Fraser. Liz made her screen breakthrough thanks to a certain little film comedy called I'm All Right Jack. The huge success of that movie guaranteed Liz a golden career in the very best of British film and television comedy over the next several decades. Two of Liz's early films, debuting the same year as the Boulting Brothers' classic, will be broadcast by Talking Pictures TV over the next few days.

The Night We Dropped a Clanger is a 1959 comedy film starring a prime cast of Brian Rix, Cecil Parker, William Hartnell and Leslie Phillips. A British secret agent is sent on a secret operation in occupied France during the Second World War but a diversionary tactic turns into a farcical tale of mistaken identity. The film features a notable supporting cast. Alongside the lovely Liz Fraser as Lulu, look out for Irene Handl, Hattie Jacques, Patrick Cargill, playwright Ray Cooney and a first screen appearance from future Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, playing Briggs.

You can catch this film on Talking Pictures TV at 12.05 today, 20th November. A specially filmed introduction from star Liz Fraser will be screened before the film.


Desert Mice, also released in 1959 is a British film comedy starring Alfred Marks and Sid James as the leaders of a group of ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) entertainers with the British army in the North Africa desert during the Second World War. The group manage to thwart a Nazi plan during their tour. The title of the film is a play on "Desert Rats". Liz Fraser co-stars as Edie alongside Irene Handl again, John Le Mesurier, Dora Bryan and Dick Bentley. Interestingly, Dora was actually a real life ENSA performer during the war. 

This film will be on Talking Pictures TV at 12.05 tomorrow, Tuesday 21st November. A specially filmed introduction from Liz will be screened just before the film.


I always enjoy seeing familiar Carry On faces like Liz, Dora and Leslie Phillips in other comedy films made around this time. Hope you enjoy them!


You can watch Talking Pictures TV on: Virgin 445 / Freeview 81 / Sky Channel 343 / Freesat 306 / Youview 81

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Bonding over Carry On Regardless

My grandfather passed away back in 2009. We were never really that close, in fact in my younger years I was almost scared of him. Looking back, he really was the Scottish incarnation of Arthur Lowe's Captain Mainwaring from Dad's Army. He was rather gruff, officious and pretty much always right. Pomposity was his default setting and he loved nothing better than meddling in some low level civic intrigue at the local council, church or down the golf club. A big fish in a small pond.

Why am I writing about this? Well recently I watched the brilliant Carry On Regardless for the first time in a while. I had written up a blog about Kenneth Connor's wonderful performance in that film and decided to refresh my memory in case I had missed anything. I know Norman Hudis always said it was the least favourite of all the films he wrote for the series, but I love Regardless, its episodic nature and the huge cast of well-loved character comedy actors and actresses it found a temporary home for. It might not have the gloss of Carry On Nurse or the warmth of Carry On Teacher, but I'll always have a soft spot for it.

Watching the film gave me a sudden flashback to many years before. As a small boy I sat and watched Carry On Regardless one Saturday afternoon with my grandfather. I had yet to discover the sheer joy of the Carry On films and sat watching this old black and white film completely unaware of what it was really. It was at a time when Channel 4 were running a matinee selection of classic British comedy films each Saturday afternoon I think. My mum and gran had probably gone off shopping or to the garden centre. Wherever they went it took them much longer than most other people - their mouths always worked faster than any other part of them.

By the time I was a teenager I had started spending Saturday afternoons with my dad watching our beloved Kilmarnock football team (or Kilmarnock-nil) as they are perhaps better known. In the early 1990s though, my dad went alone and I often stayed put at my grandparents' house. I didn't often stay with my grandfather as he rarely talked, the living room thick with a fug of pipe smoke and some form of sport blaring out on the television - usually golf. I hated golf then and I hate it even more now. For some reason there was no golf that afternoon, instead there was Carry On Regardless and it was a revelation. 

When I first watched it, Regardless would only have been about thirty years old but it seemed to have come from a different age altogether. I had no idea who any of the funny looking people were - I had yet to fall in love with Joan Sims or become entranced with Sid's crinkly face. I was intrigued by the funny little man with the big nostrils although at that stage I didn't know I'd become rather obsessed with his infamous diaries. I loved the pratfalls, the funny voices and basically just seeing a bunch of grown ups having fun and behaving like kids!

One of the few times my grandfather and I really shared a laugh about anything was that wonderful scene when Joan Sims takes on the job of collecting invitations "in her hot little hands" at the wine tasting. It's always been a favourite of mine and Joan is on sparkling form, getting a rare opportunity to be the star of the scene, and quite a long scene it is too. As she gets progressively more tiddly on screen, we both started to laugh and it became infectious. Tears of laughter streaming down our faces. It's a lovely memory to have of someone I was never really that close to. So thanks Joan for making us laugh and giving me that memory and thanks Norman for writing Regardless. You might not have cared for it much, but I'll always have a great big soft spot for it.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

Kenneth Williams is Talking Comedy

Another little treat has surfaced on the fantabulosa BBC iPlayer. I am always missing gems like this when they are first broadcast and that's why I love the iPlayer so much. For the next month or so you can catch this wonderful show, "Talking Comedy" featuring the late, great Kenneth Williams.

Basically a clip show featuring loads of brilliant Kenneth Williams anecdotes from the archives, Talking Comedy focuses on the legion of appearances Kenneth made on BBC talk shows during his career. With the end of the Carry Ons in the late 1970s and Kenneth's decision to move away from stage work, Williams increasingly relied on BBC radio as a source of employment. He added to this with frequent turns on chat shows, becoming much more of a personality than a serious actor. 

Kenneth's diaries display a bubbling hatred of these performances as he felt he was eating away at himself and either telling the same old tales or becoming more and more outrageous in search of a laugh. I hate to think of him feeling so low but I also can't help but relish these appearances as he was a gift to the talk show and the master of the anecdote. He was quite simply never "off". 

During the 1970s and 80s he was a regular guest on the Parkinson show and also appeared regularly with the likes of Terry Wogan, Gloria Hunniford, Russell Harty and Michael Aspel. He even temporarily became the host of Wogan himself when Terry took a break in the mid-1980s. Those shows are described in more detail in the diaries and it makes for fascinating reading.

Anyway, do check out Talking Comedy on the iPlayer. You can watch it here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Joe Orton Laid Bare on BBC Two

I know this isn't strictly a Carry On blog but I've long been fascinated by the life and work of the late playrwright Joe Orton. I first discovered Joe through his appearances in Kenneth Williams' diaries; the pair became great friends in the mid 1960s and Kenneth even starred in the first production of Joe's play Loot in 1965.

Joe and Kenneth shared an interesting bond despite having quite different outlooks on life and their lives. I went on to read Joe Orton's published diaries and have enjoyed several of his plays and the film of his life, Prick Up Your Ears. BBC Two are going to broadcast a special tribute documentary to Joe Orton next weekend, as part of commemorations of 50 years since his early, traumatic death. 

Joe Orton Laid Bare celebrates the wit, work and world of groundbreaking sixties playwright Joe Orton in his own words and those of friends and colleagues. 50 years since his murder at the hands of his lover Kenneth Halliwell, the film charts Joe's brief meteoric rise and tragic demise, and celebrates his unique comic voice as well as his significant role in the culture of 60s swinging London.

Antony Sher, Freddie Fox and Jaime Winstone lead an all-star ensemble cast, bringing to life excerpts of Orton's hilarious work for the TV generation, while Bryan Dick plays Orton himself, walking the viewer through the streets Joe inhabited and using his diary to revive the voice of one of Britain's most controversial comic writers.

The film builds to a tense and surprising conclusion as the circumstances of Joe's death are re-examined and new evidence reveals a sinister and powerful figure at the centre of events that led to his murder. Interviewees include Kenneth Cranham, Sir Michael Codron, Christopher Hampton, Patricia Routledge, Orton biographer John Lahr and Joe's sister Leonie.

Joe Orton Laid Bare will be broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday 25 November at 9pm. You can find out more about Joe Orton and his work at 

You can read my blog on the friendship between Kenneth and Joe here: Carry On Blogging: Kenneth and Joe

And you can read more on Kenneth's reaction to Joe Orton's death in 1967 in my blog here: Carry On Blogging: July 1967 through the eyes of Kenneth Williams 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram