Saturday, 17 February 2018

Carry On Originals: Gerald Campion

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?

We're continuing with an actor who found lasting fame on the small screen, Gerald Campion.

Role in Carry On Sergeant: Andy Calloway

Other Carry On roles: None

Other notable film performances: Fatty Gilbert in Fun at St Fanny's (1956); George in Inn for Trouble; Proudfoot in School for Scoundrels (both 1960); Charlie in Double Bunk (1961) and Minister in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

Best remembered for: Playing Billy Bunter on television between 1952 and 1961 - despite playing the school boy, Gerald was 40 when the series eventually came to an end.

Did you know?: After retiring from acting Gerald made a success of running various bars and restaurants in London's West End. The most famous was Gerry's, a private member's club in Soho.

Gerry's Bar in Soho is named after him.

Gerald's mother, Blanche, was Charlie Chaplin's first cousin.

What happened to him?: Gerald died in Agen, France in July 2002 at the age of 81.

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Friday, 16 February 2018

Passport to Fame: The Diana Dors Story

Although not strictly Carry On-related, I couldn't resist sharing the news that a new biography of the late, great British actress Diana Dors has been published by Book Guild Publishing. I've long been a fan of Diana Dors and her rich and varied acting career in some of the best of British film and television is equally as enthralling as her fascinating private life.

Huw Prall explores the fascinating career of the late Diana Dors in this enchanting biography

“Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe”, this tag was to hang around Diana Dors’ neck during the 1950s. However, as she would often point out, she had been working professionally a lot longer than Monroe. Her first appearance was in 1946 in The Shop at Sly Corner, while still a student at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Diana, like Marilyn, was blonde, curvy and sexy, but that’s where the comparison ended. Her range as an actress was broad – from comedy blondes to evil old hags, and even Greek tragedy in theatre.

She had a prolific career encompassing theatre, cabaret, film and TV. She was also a talented writer, compiling two autobiographies and three A–Z books.
With exclusive images and anecdotes, Passport to Fame is a comprehensive study of Diana’s work across her 40 years of filmmaking. Delving into her personal life, it is a must-read for fans of Diana, as well as those interested in the changing face of the film industry.

Huw Prall trained as a classical dancer before going on to study allied dance forms, acting and singing. He has worked in both classical and musical theatre, as well as in film and television. He teaches at several London Drama Schools and is Head of Dance for the Education Department at Shakespeare’s Globe. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Dance and is a Fellow and Life Member of the International Dance Teachers’ Association, to name a few.

You can find out more and buy the book here

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Happy Birthday Ian Lavender!


The youngest member of the original Dad's Army team celebrates a milestone birthday today! Yes, Ian Lavender, that stupid boy, turns 72! Many happy returns to him. Ian was back on the big screen last year having filmed a cameo role in the new version of the BBC sitcom classic.

To Carry On fans, Ian is familiar for his supporting role as Joe Baxter in Carry On Behind. While I love Behind and think it is the last great Carry On, I do think Ian is wasted in the film and barely gets a look in. Ian is quite clearly brought in as the next generation Jim Dale with Adrienne Posta playing his wife as a bubbly blonde Barbara Windsor type. I think both actors did well in their roles and I believe they were asked back for the next film (or at least on the casting list) but sadly neither joined in again for Carry On England.

I think Ian Lavender was ideal casting for a Carry On, bringing that much needed youthful comedy. He may not have had the same comic physicality as Jim Dale but he was certainly a welcome addition to the team. At the time Ian was branching out into several other low brow British comedy films including roles in Confessions of a Pop Performer, Adventures of a Taxi Driver, Adventures of a Private Eye and Not Now, Comrade. All classics I'm sure you'll agree (!)


Thankfully Ian is still flying the flag for British comedy today and is still as busy as ever. Whatever he is up to today, I hope he has an excellent birthday. 

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

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Carrying On with Norman: On The Beat

This is part of a brand new series of blogs looking back at some of my favourite Norman Wisdom films. Although never as fruity or innuendo-laden as the Carry Ons, Sir Norman's films share a similiar feel to many of the early Carry Ons. Indeed they quite often shared the same production base - Pinewood Studios - and Wisdom's films often co-starred some very familiar Carry On faces. 

Norman Wisdom was one of the most bankable British film stars in the 1950s and early 1960s. His stardom lasted long after his peak at the box office too. He appealed to a cross section of society and young and old loved him in equal measure. His cheeky, child-like charm, excellent comic timing and sheer energy catapulted him to fame and he's very clearly one of our most talented comedy stars full stop. 

I've already blogged about the films Trouble in Store from 1953Just My Luck from 1957 and Follow A Star from 1959.We're continuing this series of blogs with a look at one of Norman's 1960s film hits - On The Beat from 1962.

What's it about?

Norman Pitkin (Norman Wisdom) is employed by Scotland Yard as a car cleaner, but dreams of becoming a policeman as his late father was. The police reject his request to join the force, but later recruit him to work undercover in disguise. He has turned out to be the double of a suspected jewel thief, an Italian crime boss in London. In addition to his criminal activities, this man is a ladies' hairdresser.

Norman disguises himself as the suspect and gains entry to his salon. Once inside, after some inevitable mishaps, he manages to find the stolen goods, knock out the suspect, wrap him up in a curtain/wall rug, and bring him to justice.

As a reward, he is offered a permanent place in the police and marries his love, the ex-girlfriend of the man he brought to justice (whom had he rescued earlier in the film when she was attempting to commit suicide by jumping in the river).


Who's in it?

Norman is missing his regular co-stars Edward Chapman and Jerry Desmonde in On The Beat but he is still blessed with acting talent in the form of Raymond Huntley and Jennifer Jayne. Huntley was a familiar face from many great British films and television productions, often playing authority figures. He would go on to appear in Nurse On Wheels, playing Joan Sims' father the following year. Jennifer had already starred for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas in their 1961 music school comedy film, Raising The Wind, alongside the likes of Kenneth WIlliams, Liz Fraser and James Robertson Justice.

Carry On faces?

Loads of 'em! David Lodge plays Norman's nemesis Superintendent Hobson. David appeared in Carry On Regardless before returning for supporting roles in Girls, Dick, Behind, England and many roles in the ATV Carry On Laughing series in 1975. Carry On original Eric Barker plays a doctor in the film. Eric starred in Sergeant, Constable and Spying, before making a brief cameo in Carry On Emmannuelle. 


Esma Cannon has a supporting role as Mrs Stammers. Esma is best known for her roles in Carry On Constable, Regardless, Cruising and Cabby. And Dilys Laye pops up as an American lady who encounters Norman when he's erm... On The Beat. We know Dilys for roles in Cruising, Spying, Doctor and Camping. Dilys' Cruising co-star Ronnie Stevens also appears as the character Oberon. 

There are also small roles in On The Beat for Terence Alexander (Regardless); Peggy Ann Clifford (Cleo); Julian Orchard (Camel, Doctor, Henry); Cyril Chamberlain (First seven Carry Ons) and Larry Martyn (cameos in Convenience and Behind).

Did you know? 

There is a supporting role in the film for actor Jack Watson, playing a police sergeant. Jack had already filmed his role as Elsie Tanner's first on screen love interest Bill Gregory in Coronation Street. He would return to the show in 1970 and then again, finally, in late 1983 to film legendary star Pat Phoenix's final ever scenes as Elsie.


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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Happy Valentine's Day from Carry On Blogging!

Happy Valentine's Day! And what better way to celebrate Carry On style, than with a wallow in the classic Carry On Loving. No other Carry On focuses so entirely than all things romantic. So let's look back at some of the antics of those who found love with the help of Sidney and Sophie Bliss.

First up, how not to behave when meeting the future inlaws for the first time:

And if you ever need matrimonial advice, Carry On Loving teaches us to stay well clear of one Percival Snooper..

And finally, how not to behave at a wedding reception (even if it does look like a lot of fun):

Whatever you are up to this Valentine's Day, I hope you have a smashing time!

Carry On!

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

Monday, 12 February 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: I'm All Right Jack

Here we go with another in my series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money.
More recently I blogged about the Sid James and Kenneth Connor comedy horror What A Carve Up! and just last week I blogged about the Gordon Jackson drama, Floodtide

Today I'm going to blog about the 1959 comedy film, I'm All Right Jack.

Who's in it?

I'm All Right Jack boasts one of the strongest casts of any British film comedy of the era. Ian Carmichael stars as the innocent of the piece, Stanley Windrush. Peter Sellers takes on one of his best loved film roles as Union boss Fred Kite and Terry-Thomas stars as Major Hitchcock, boss of the factory.

The film also features several high profile guest stars in Margaret Rutherford as Stanley's Aunt Dolly, Richard Attenborough as Sydney DeVere Cox and Dennis Price as Tracepurcel. 

Carry On Faces?

Loads! Liz Fraser grabs her first big starring role in the film playing Fred Kite's daughter Cynthia. Playing her mother in the film is reliable character actress Irene Handl. Familiar Carry On supporting actor Victor Maddern has a sizable role as factory worker Knowles while some of the other workers are played by the likes of Fred Griffiths, David Lodge, Cardew Robinson and Terry Scott.

Harry Locke, a regular in three of the medical Carry Ons, plays a trade union official while the diminutive Ian Wilson pops up as an Evangalist. One of my favourites, Esma Cannon, also has a small role as Spencer, Margaret Rutherford's maid. 

Carry On Nurse actor John Van Eyssen appears in a small role as a reporter alongside the brilliant Michael Ward. Another stalwart, Brian Oulton, turns up early on in the film as the Appointments Board Manager while Carry On Cruising actor Ronnie Stevens plays Hooper at the Num Yum's factory, alongside Martin Boddey, as an Executive. There are also blink and you'll miss them appearances from Robin Ray, son of Ted and brother of Andrew, and Marianne Stone as a T.V assistant (After all, which British film of the era could proceed without Marianne Stone?)

And one final Carry On connection. I'm All Right Jack's narrator is E.V.H Emmett - a regular newsreader and voiceover actor who provided narration for the 1964 classic, Carry On Cleo.

What's it about?

After leaving the army and returning to university, newly graduated upper class Stanley Windrush is looking for a job but fails miserably at interviews for various entry level management positions. Stanley's uncle, Bertram Tracepurcel  and his old army comrade, Sidney DeVere Cox, persuade him to take an unskilled blue-collar job at Uncle Bertram's missile factory, despite Aunt Dolly's misgivings.

At first suspicious of the overeager newcomer, communist shop steward Fred Kite takes Stanley under his wing and even offers to take him in as a lodger. When Kite's curvaceous daughter Cynthia drops by, Stanley readily accepts.

Meanwhile, personnel manager Major Hitchcock is assigned a time and motion study expert, Waters, to measure how efficient the employees are. The workers refuse to cooperate but Waters tricks Windrush into showing him how much more quickly he can do his job with his forklift truck, than other more experienced employees. When Kite is informed of the results, he calls a strike to protect the rates his union workers are being paid.

This is what Cox and Tracepurcel want; Cox owns a company that can take over a large new contract with a Middle Eatern country at an inflated cost. He, Tracepurcel and a Mr Mohammed, the country's representative, would each pocket a third of the £100,000 difference.

Things don't quite work out for either side. Cox arrives at his factory to find that his workers are walking out in sympathy for Kite and his strikers. The press reports that Kite is punishing Windrush for working hard. When Windrush decides to cross the picket line and go back to work (and reveals his connection with the company's owner), Kite asks him to leave his house. This provokes the adoring Cynthia and her mother to go on strike. More strikes spring up, bringing the country to a standstill.

Did you know?

The film is a sequel to the Boulting Brothers' earlier hit film, Private's Progress, with Ian Carmichael, Dennis Price, Richard Attenborough and Terry-Thomas reprising their roles from that 1956 film.

Peter Sellers won a BAFTA award for best actor for his role as Fred Kite.

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Remembering the actor John Carlin


Quite by accident yesterday I came across the obituary for the actor John Carlin, who sadly passed away back in November at the age of 88. The name might not be instantly familiar to many, but Carlin had a prolific acting career spanning five decades and over 100 screen credits. John also joined the Carry On team towards the end of their original run of films.

John first appeared alongside the likes of Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor and Sidney James when he played an assortment of supporting parts in Carry On Laughing in 1975. This ragbag series of half hours for ATV proved less than successful yet did give us some more precious times with the aforementioned actors. John Carlin appeared in six of the mainly historical "epics" playing a range of official types or camp attendants, stepping in for the absent Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey.

He obviously made an impression as Carlin was kept on for what would be the two last gasp attempts at keeping the Carry On flag flying on the big screen. The year after Carry On Laughing limped to the small screen, John was cast in the small role of an Officer in Carry On England. He also returned two years later to play a French parson in Carry On Emmannuelle. Never a main player in the Carry Ons fair enough, but his contribution does still deserve to be remembered.


John Carlin spent many years appearing on television, often in comedy roles. He appeared twice opposite Sid James - first of all in episode of the BBC comedy drama series Taxi in 1964 and a couple of years later in the hugely successful ITV series George and The Dragon. John also had a recurring role as Percy the Barman in the Richard O'Sullivan comedy Man About The House in the mid 1970s. Looking at John's CV he seemed to pop up in almost every successful television series of the era. Guest spots included roles in George and Mildred, The Sweeney, Bergerac, Robin's Nest, Shoestring, Taggart, Minder and Rumpole of the Bailey.

One further interesting detail that emerged from John's obituary concerned a comedy series he was due to star in back in 1971. Carlin had been cast in the ATV police comedy, Coppers End, however when leading lady Joan Sims was forced to give up her role due to illness, most of the parts were recast as they had all been picked to work as a team. John's role went to the bigger name of Richard Wattis while Joan's part was taken on by Josephine Tewson. 

Since reading John's obituary I have remembered his small roles in the Carry On story. What I did not realise was that he was actually Scottish, having been born in Johnstone, not far from where I grew up. John's obituary is well worth a read and you can find it in The Herald.

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