Monday, 18 September 2017

An Afternoon with the Carry On Girls


Misty Moon Events are hosting an event at the Cinema Museum this Autumn with a strong Carry On theme. Focussing on the actresses who appeared in the classic film franchise, their Carry On Girls event will bring together some of our favourite Carry On ladies for an afternoon of fabulous film memories.

The Carry On films (1958–92) are one of the most popular franchises in film history. There have been 31 films and four Christmas specials, a TV series, and three stage plays. We are celebrating the films with the ladies of Carry On.


Misty Moon’s MC for the afternoon is Linda Regan who starred in Carry On England in 1976. Linda played A.T.S Private Taylor. She also made an uncredited appearance in the TV movie Carry On Again Christmas (1970). Linda played Yellowcoat April in the popular holiday camp sitcom Hi-de-Hi! (1984-1988).

Sally Geeson starred in two Carry On films Carry On Abroad (1972) as Lily, and then in Carry On Girls (1973) playing a domineering television production assistant. She also had an early uncredited role in Carry On Regardless (1961). Sally is probably best known for playing Sid James’s daughter in the TV series Bless This House (1971–1976).


Christine Ozanne was in Carry On Nurse (1959) as the cleaner. She is the author of The Tome of the Unknown Actor.

Laura Collins appeared in Carry On Matron (1972).

After the Q&A the girls will meet and greet the audience and take part in a paid signing.


More guests to be announced soon.

Doors open at 14.00, for a 14.30 start. Refreshments will be available in our licensed cafe/bar.


Tickets in advance £14 (£13 concessions). On the door £15 (£14 concessions).
Advance tickets may be purchased from Billetto, or direct from the Museum by calling 020 7840 2200 in office hours.

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

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Happy Birthday Sherrie Hewson!

Many happy returns to the actress Sherrie Hewson who celebrates her birthday today!

Sherrie made her Carry On appearances very early on in her acting career. She would go on to star in a wide variety of shows, forming a well known association with the comedian Russ Abbot during the 1980s, starring in a wide range of classic television including The Gentle Touch, Jackanory, Minder, Within These Walls and Juliet Bravo. Sherrie of course went on to star alongside Gwen Taylor in the ITV sitcom Barbara and these days is most famous for being a panelist on Loose Women and starring in the Carry On-esque comedy series Benidorm.

I love Sherrie as Maureen Naylor/Holdsworth in Coronation Street. It was a rare occasion where my own surname, Naylor, appeared in the credits of a telly programme! She brought some wonderful comedy to the Street as well as some classic drama. Her relationship with on-screen mother Maud (the fantastic and much missed Elizabeth Bradley) was vey real and beautifully played. I still wish Maureen would pay the residents of Weatherfield another visit.

Sadly, Sherrie joined the Carry On team just as their star was on the wane. Carry On Behind was her only film appearance with the gang but it's a smashing last great attempt at Carry On on the big screen. As one of the bright young girls giving Windsor Davies and Jack Douglas the run around, Sherrie displays fine comic timing and works really well with Carol Hawkins. It's a shame she didn't join the team for earlier outings as she was a natural fit with the rest of the gang.

Sherrie also appeared in four episodes of the ATV series Carry On Laughing the same year. While the series wasn't a run away success, Sherrie is a high point, forming a wonderful double act in several episodes with the master, Peter Butterworth. 

Whatever Sherrie is up to today, I hope she has a fantastic birthday.

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

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present


While many of the leading Carry On actors are no longer with us, although thanks to constant repeats they often feel very much alive, we thankfully still have a fairly strong collection of actors around in 2017 who played important parts in the Carry On story. It's to be expected that actors who played the leads in the 1950s and 60s may no longer be around in a new century, we still miss them and wish many had been given just that little bit longer.

Even though the Carry Ons hit their stride more than half a century ago, it still shocks and baffles on occasion when anniversaries come round and you realise the likes of Sid, Charles and Frankie would now be over a hundred years old. Most of the Carry On gang died far too young with only Kenneth Connor really making it to old age, and even then he was just 75. Of the main team today, we only have Jim Dale and Barbara Windsor left, both juvenile leads in the team at the time but now into their eighties. Although I'm sad the leading lights of the team are mostly all long gone, their passing has allowed supporting actors or faces who popped in and out of the series to receive the plaudits they are seriously due.


With yet another London Film Convention upon us - and one featuring a strong Carry On line up - it has made me realise how much affection I feel for some of the actors with links to the series who are still going strong in 2017. Most are still working and showing very little sign of their years. There is something very special about some of our more mature working actors which is so identifiably British and it's a constant source of joy for me. As with film stars of yesteryear there is always such a strong presence when one of these actors enters a room. They know how to carry themselves, they know how to conduct themselves and they are the ultimate professionals when meeting and greeting their admirers. They are grafters and despite grand reputations of films they have made and people they have worked with, the vast majority are warm, friendly and incredibly down to earth.

I've had the tremendous good fortune to interview or meet several of these actors over the past few years and they've never let me down or disappointed. Madeline Smith has to be one of the most memorable - a sheer joy to chat with over the phone and even more welcoming and friendly in person. Madeline is always entertaining to listen to and very open and honest about her career. Another lady who never disappoints is the glorious Amanda Barrie, long a heroine of mine thanks to her fantastic stint as Alma in Coronation Street. Meeting your heroes is always a risky business but Amanda has been a joy and everything you could wish for. I've had similarly pleasing experiences with the likes of Valerie Leon and Jacki Piper, two actors who belie their years still ooze glamour many years after their time in the Carry On spotlight.


One of the most memorable Carry On performances of all time must be that of Fenella Fielding in Carry On Screaming. Fenella, who celebrates her 90th birthday in November, is one of the old school while remaining down to earth and amazed by her own popularity. Probably one of the nicest of all is Anita Harris. Still remarkably unchanged from her glamorous sixties persona, Anita is working as hard as ever - still talented, kind and generous with her time. 

We simply don't seem to produce people with this kind of star quality these days. I don't know why but we just don't. While a lot of what I do on this blog is remembering and celebrating long lost heroes like Sid, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth, I think it's still important to cherish those that remain. These vital, still vibrant are a vital link to the past but also have much to offer in 2017.

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

Thursday, 14 September 2017

What a Carry On at the London Film Convention!

The London Film Convention is now in its 45th year.  The Convention gives fans of classic film and television a chance to meet stars, have photos taken with them and go home with an autograph as a lovely memento.

The next Convention is due to take place on Saturday 16 September 2017 and there are some great Carry On names down to attend. Leading the field is the one and only Mr Bernard Cribbins. A true legend and veteran of every medium you could imagine, Bernard is best known for his association with Doctor Who, The Wombles, The Railway Children, Jackanory and of course, Carry On. He appeared as Albert Poopdecker in Carry On Jack in 1963, Harold Crump in Carry On Spying the following year and returned for Columbus in 1992. Bernard will be attending from 1-3pm.

Another familiar face from the early days of Carry On is Amanda Barrie. The star of Coronation Street, Bad Girls, The Real Marigold Hotel and of course, many many leading roles on the West End stage, Amanda made her Carry On debut as Glam Cab driver Anthea in Cabby in 1963 before grabbing the title role of Cleopatra in Carry On Cleo the following year.


Valerie Leon starred in six Carry Ons: Up The Khyber, Camping, Again Doctor, Up The Jungle, Matron and Girls. She also took the lead role in the classic horror film Blood From The Mummy's Tomb and appeared opposite two James Bonds - Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me and Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again. 

Also attending will be the original Carry On girl, Shirley Eaton. Bond girl Shirley starred in Sergeant, Nurse and Constable as well as appearing in the very first Doctor film and the likes of The Naked Truth, What A Carve Up and Dentist On The Job. Shirley will be attending between 10.30-4pm.

Joining Valerie and Shirley is another class act of British film comedy - Fenella Fielding. Fenella appeared in two Carry Ons, first of all as Penny Panting (!) opposite Kenneth Connor in Carry On Regardless and then several years later in her most iconic role as Valeria Watt in Carry On Screaming. I have been fortunate enough to meet Fenella before and she is an absolute delight.

Also flying the Carry On flag will be fan favourite Margaret Nolan. Margaret is well known for her many years in the best of British comedy and drama in both film and television. Margaret got her big break in films playing Dink opposite Sean Connery in Goldfinger, also appearing in the classic title sequence. She went on to star in six Carry Ons - Cowboy, Henry, At Your Convenience, Matron, Girls and Dick.

Also in attendance is the star of many of Hammer Horror film as well as James Bond (Live and Let Die) and Carry On (Matron), the gorgeous Madeline Smith. Maddie's other credits include the film of Up Pompeii with Frankie Howerd, Theatre of Blood with Vincent Price, The Two Ronnies and later, satirical work with the likes of John Bird and John Fortune.

And last but by no means least is the evergreen entertainer, Anita Harris. Anita has enjoyed a long career as a singer, dancer and star of musical theatre and is still wowing audiences around the country to this day. Early on in her career she made two Carry Ons - first of all as Cork Tip in Follow That Camel and then as Nurse Clark in Carry On Doctor, both made in 1967.

The London Film Convention will be taking place on Saturday 16 September between 10am-5pm at Central Hall, Westminster, in Central London. You can find out more by visiting their website here

If you attend this event please do get in touch and let me know how it went and who you met!

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

Favourites in Five: Jason Figgis


I started a brand new series of blogs a couple of 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

Today it's the turn of film director, Jason Figgis.


Robert Mitchum was a towering figure in Hollywood and I don’t just mean his 6’2” frame carrying a 48 inch chest. He was feared by movie moguls and loved by women, as well as men. His loose style was effortless and even gave him pause to answer a reporter who enquired of his acting style with the humorous retort : “With and without a horse”. Mitchum was a tough guy onscreen but off, an intellectual - his need to be the consummate professional powering his approach to his roles that saw him look for meaning in everything he did. He joked that he would be happy to paint houses if they paid him the same crazy money but Mitchum was merely making light of a profession he was passionate about. Legend has it that he was so upset by the mogul Howard Hughes insistence on reshooting a feature film three times that he roughed up two security guards; locked himself into the set and proceeded to tear the entire construction apart; watched on the sidelines by a bewildered and highly amused cast and crew. Such was his talent as an actor that while shooting the superb Cape Fear for Gregory Peck’s production company, Peck himself sidled up to Mitchum to assure him that he was not in the least bit upset that his co-star was stealing every scene out from under him. Peck knew that in Mitchum he had cast the most charismatic actor to play the most charismatic and terrifying antagonist opposite his genial lawyer. The film was a smash critical hit for Mitchum and Co. and continued a career trajectory that had begun in the 1940s with film noir and would reach further critical heights with such powerful thrillers as The Yakuza and The Friends of Eddie Coyle. For me Robert Mitchum was the consummate actor. He was a physical powerhouse with a face that was etched with deep insight into the human condition. He believed that he had three expressions; looking right, looking left and looking straight ahead but Mitchum was in fact one of the most underrated actors of the 20th century. 



One of my earliest memories of film (and one of the most influential) was witnessing Jenny Agutter carry her onscreen brother (in fact Nicolas Roeg’s own son) across the broiling sands of the Australian bush. This was memorable for two reasons: My older brother Danny had starred with Agutter in a “Troubles” story set in Belfast called A War of Children and secondly, the power of Roeg’s scope as a visionary director. The film was, of course, Walkabout - a highly controversial tale of child abandonment and awakening (not least because of the teenage Agutter’s many scenes of sometimes full frontal nudity). Agutter went on to star, weeks later, in the children’s classic The Railway Children for actor/ director Lionel Jefferies. She was so tanned from her months in Australia, that she needed to be constantly “paled” down for her scenes set in a cold Yorkshire landscape. The dialogue in Walkabout was sparse but the imagery was rich and full of beautiful and terrifying things. To cap it all, one of John Barry’s most haunting scores was utilised to great effect. I looked for more of Roeg’s work and discovered his sublime cinematography for John Schlesinger’s Far From the Madding Crowd and his next great work, Don’t Look Now which starred Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in two tour de force performances that garnered much critical acclaim. Everything that Roeg has touched is tuned to such artistic perfection that no matter what the genre, he has made it his own. 



When Kubrick released a feature film - it was an event, not only in Hollywood, but in my house. Like Roeg, Kubrick was the consummate artist and even though others produced his work, he held such a powerful grip on every area of creativity within the filmmaking process, that he can, without doubt, be considered an auteur. He attacked a new genre each time he made a picture and in doing so, seemed to have the uncanny ability to redefine that genre. He was also obsessed with perfection of performance. One of my favourite anecdotes concerned Tom Cruise on the set of the excellent Eyes Wide Shut. Cruise had walked through a door approximately 50 times and when he questioned Kubrick’s rationale, the great master responded: “But, don’t you want to get it right”. That pretty much summed up Stanley Kubrick’s obsession; he always wanted to get it right and, he always did.



I had the good fortune to spend a few nights alone at Ian Fleming’s former home near Reading and was struck with the awesome grandeur of the surroundings. One particular room, with walls adorned with photographs of Fleming with many other famous faces, I found to be a very eerie place. It was if Mr. Fleming was still present and was curious about I, the unknown interloper. When Michael Caine stood before his spy-ring boss in the superb The Ipcress File, thanking him for a much needed raise as he could now afford the latest grill that he had been looking at, Caine redefined Ian Fleming’s idea of what a spy should be. Harry Palmer (as portrayed by Michael Caine) was practically the antithesis of Fleming’s Bond. He was an intellectual first and much more interested in cooking than breaking apart the latest nest of potential national security threats. The film proved to be a success as both types of physical and intellectual alphas were accepted by the film-going public. It certainly didn’t harm the success of the film that Caine was an unconventionally beautiful, blonde, 6’2” presence. Something that set Caine apart from his contemporary leading men though was his ability to inhabit any role that he was cast in. He could play the intellectual spy, the philandering Eastend boy, the Nazi soldier, the upperclass English officer or even, the thug. He was also one of the first of the English New Wave to realise that less was more. He allowed his hooded eyes to do the talking and they spoke volumes. With a single tear misting one of those peepers, a nation of women and men gulped back their own begrudging emotion. They weren’t expecting how so little could produce so much. Even though Caine has continued his great successes in Hollywood, I believe the 60’s and 70’s in British film were his defining decades with such films as Zulu, Alfie, The Italian Job and of course, what I consider his best film, Mike Hodges’ Get Carter. The latter I watch at least twice a year, relishing such lines as “You’re a big man, but you’re out of shape. With me, it’s a full time job” (I paraphrase as best I can but ... you get the message). 


The English ghost story in its present short form can be attributed to the realist terrors that flowed from the fountain pen of the erudite scholar Montague Rhodes James. He wrote ghost stories to entertain his fellows and students across the dark hours of a winter’s evening as Christmas approached and soon found a much broader audience - and indeed a publisher, who was more than happy to promote the safe terrors of the Victorian/Edwardian ghost story. What set James apart from his contemporaries was his ability to interweave realist scholarly narrative with the more salacious elements of the paranormal. We believed the journey that our hero was on, we believed his quest and his translations of ancient Latin texts, so that when the horror was visited upon him, we believed that too. My introduction to his work was courtesy of the BBC and Lawrence Gordon Clark’s exemplary adaptations of his stories for a season of Ghost Stories for Christmas, throughout the 1970s. It was a bigger thrill for me and my brothers than the prospect of Santa Claus, as we huddled with pillows on a cold Dublin Christmas Eve, while the very austere BBC announcer introduced us to yet another spine tingling adaptation of the master’s work. Since then, I have of course read all of his works, and their impression has never been even slightly lessened by the regular revisits to his landscapes of the macabre. If you haven’t picked up a collection as of yet, I urge you to hold off no longer. 

Thank you so much to Jason for taking the time to write such a thoughtful, fascinating piece for the blog. You can follow Jason on Twitter and find out more about his career in film here

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

Happy Birthday Amanda Barrie!

It's hard to believe it but the wonderful Amanda Barrie celebrates her 82nd birthday today. The ever-youthful star of stage and screen was born Shirley Anne Broadbent on 14 September 1935 in Ashton Under Lyne.

Amanda is a real fans favourite, starring in two early Carry On films in the 1960s. She first of all played the supporting role of Glam Cab driver Anthea in Carry On Cabby before following this up with a starring role as Cleo in the classic Carry On Cleo in 1964. Sadly Amanda did not return the Carry On team for further adventures as her agent sent her off for a season at the Bristol Old Vic instead! 

Amanda was a natural in the Carry Ons, working beautifully with the likes of Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor. Other film appearances at the time included A Pair of Briefs (with Joan Sims), Doctor in Distress (with Dennis Price) and I've Gotta Horse (with Billy Fury). On stage, Amanda played leading ladies in a host of West End productions including She Loves Me, Cabaret, Hobson's Choice, Absurd Person Singular, Stepping Out and Private Lives. 

Of course we all know her best these days for her long stint playing the wonderful Alma in Coronation Street. Amanda first appeared in the Street in guest spots as the cafe owner in 1981 and 1982 before returning on a permanent basis from late 1988. She would play the role until the character's death from cancer in June 2001. Alma featured in some memorable storylines which included marrying Mike Baldwin, being kidnapped by Don Brennan and being romanced by Ken Barlow. She also had wonderfully strong female friendships with the likes of Audrey, Gail and Hayley. Fourteen years after her last appearance she is still much-missed by fans.

Amanda has gone on to appear in the likes of Doctors, Bad Girls, Holby City and most recently Benidorm with her former Corrie co-star Sherrie Hewson. Amanda has also become a regular on the pantomime circuit.

Amanda married her longterm partner Hilary Bonner at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2014. 

Whatever she is up to today, I hope Amanda has a terrific birthday!

You can read Glenda Young's blog post about Amanda's autobiography here

You can read my interview with Amanda from earlier this year here

You can read about my meeting with Amanda at the London Film Convention here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Happy Birthday Patrick Mower!


Today we wish the suave, evergreen actor Patrick Mower a very happy 79th birthday! Patrick, a real Seventies heartthrob if ever there was one, is now best known for his long running role as Rodney Blackstock in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale. Patrick has played the part since the year 2000.

Patrick has been a fixture on television and cinema screens since the 1960s with his most memorable roles coming from a variety of gritty, small screen detective shows in the 1970s. As well as roles in The Sweeney, The Avengers and Jason King, he took lead roles in both Callan and Special Branch. To Carry On fans, Patrick is best remembered for his role as Len Able in the less than successful 1976 film Carry On England, in which he played love interest to Judy Geeson.

Patrick took part in the 2015 ITV tribute show, Carry On Forever, and remains proud of his involvement with the Carry Ons. A further Carry On link comes in the shapely shape of Emmannuelle actress Suzanne Danielle, who was Patrick's real life partner for seven years. 


Whatever Patrick is up to today, I hope he has an excellent birthday!

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook