Dramatisation of the love affair between Sidney James and Barbara Windsor, played out against the backdrop of the 'Carry On' films during the 1960s and 1970s.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jacqueline Defferary ...
Sally
Geoffrey Hutchings ...
David McAlister ...
Jason Round ...
Clapper Loader
...
...
Bernard Bresslaw
Hugh Walters ...
...
Alan Barnes ...
1st Assistant Director
Maria Charles ...
Charlie's Mum
Chrissie Cotterill ...
...
Imogen
Alice Bailey Johnson ...
Alice
Derek Howard ...
Kenneth Connor
Richard Vanstone ...
Alf
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Storyline

Star actors in the popular British 'Carry On' screen farces Sid James and Kenneth Williams have disliked each other since they acted on radio in the mid-1950s. Ten years later the feud still continues. Chirpy young actress Barbara Windsor arrives to appear in the series and Sid, though married, pursues her. Believing that he will be satisfied after a one night stand Barbara goes with him but this is the start of an affair which will last until the mid 1970s, shortly before Sid's death whilst touring in a play. After Sid's demise Kenneth assures Barbara that she was not responsible and she, in turn, encourages him to enjoy life more. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Drama | Romance

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24 April 2000 (UK)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Windsor Davies who acted in a Carry On film has a cameo role. See more »

Goofs

Sidney James is shown having a near-fatal heart attack in 1969. When Barbara Windsor visits him disguised as a nurse he shows her a newspaper saying Tony Hancock has committed suicide. Sid James suffered this heart attack in 1967 and Hancock died in 1968. See more »

Quotes

Sid James: I'm an actor, mate.
Kenneth Williams: You're a cheap vaudevillian. Whereas I am a clasically trained thespian. I've worked with Orson Welles.
Sid James: So have I.
Kenneth Williams: I've played Shakespeare.
Sid James: Well, so have I.
Kenneth Williams: I have read a book.
[Sid looks down at his feet]
Kenneth Williams: I have sat on the steps of the Colosseum and debated the nature of man with Sophocles, I have.
[Kenneth farts]
Barbara Windsor: Kenny!
[...]
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Connections

References Bless This House (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Carry on Middle England.
26 April 2000 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

The opening half of this film dramatising the affair between two of Britain's best and best-loved comedians, Sid James and Barbara Windsor, is a wonderful marriage of form and content, and a lesson to anyone who dares to make period dramas. From the cheeky title and CARRY ON-style credits, we know we're in for a treat that will not betray its subjects with deadly respectability.

This half is filmed like a CARRY ON, with the central romance between Sid and Babs diffused by innuendo-laden bits of business featuring Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey et al. There is one stunning shot at the beginning where the vast Roman ampitheatre through which a soldier walks is revealed to be a tiny model, pointing to the themes of reality and appearance that will be the film's theme, as well as the economic reality of these films' production.

Sid's life in this half is played like a CARRY ON farce, full of repetition, coitus interruptus, double entendres, comedy gangsters and buxom ladies locked in bathrooms. The general verdict on CARRY ONs is that they are an assembly line churning out shoddy products of ever decreasing quality, concerned only with adolescent titillation (this is not my view - HENRY and CLEO at least are great films, while KHYBER is the greatest of all British satires, and the equal of Bunuel); so treating the lives of these people who must subsume their own personalities in their screen personae (even the sex scene is mediated through cinematic apparatus), locked in an evermore limiting labyrinth of personal need and public status is true at least to public perception (behind which, presumably, the filmmakers wish to delve).

The lines and jokes are fruity and excellent, the sets deliciously gaudy, the re-enactments priceless, the chronology a little wobbly, the acting a triumph (Samantha Spiro as Babs is so winning and moving she makes me totally reevaluate a figure I'd previously considered fairly margainal), but, best of all, it shows that farce, and especially CARRY ONs, have an emotional basis denied by its detractors.

The screenwriter doesn't quite believe it either though, and this fertile approach is soon abandoned as the film gets more serious, tragic, and it seeks an appropriate mode to express this, fixing on a fatal melange of social realism and middle-class Rattiganisms (so as not to alienate the film's prime-time audience). The subversion of genre that was the first half (and subverting genre and its conservative functions was what CARRY ONs were all about) becomes a conventional biopic, robbing the subjects of their breezy singularity.

Yes it's all very sad and desparing and tragic, yes the recreation of a shabby 70s Britain at the fag-end of both the entertainment industry and British society itself is expertly realised, but so is Merchant Ivory. There are lines of dialogue, which, without irony, could have come straight from an Alan Bennett parody. The despair of Williams is frequently alluded to, but to anyone unfamiliar with his story somewhat obscured.

The hilarious parody of Burton and Taylor that characterises Sid and Babs' early relationship becomes sadly literal as we go on. You certainly wouldn't know why these cheaply-made music hall quickies remain astonishingly popular and vibrant today, while their more respectable peers lie in cobwebbed vaults. After such a fun start, then, a bit of a shame.


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