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Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (2006)

Martyn Hesford's comedy-drama about the life and times of tortured comic Kenneth Williams based on his diaries.


(as Andy de Emmony)


, (book)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lou Williams
Charlie Williams
Peter Eade
Martin Trenaman ...
David Charles ...
Rachel Clarke ...
Connor Garnet Comerford ...
Beatrice Comins ...
St Joan / Actress
Timothy Davies ...
1st Doctor
Stephen Critchlow ...


Finicky,hygiene-obsessed comic actor Kenneth Williams,living in a flat block with mutually adoring mother Louie,looks back on his life. At loggerheads with his homophobic father over his career Kenny fulfils his dream of becoming a classical actor but is spun off into comedy,allowing full rein to his crowd-pleasing array of funny voices. A compulsive,often selfish performer off-screen,he becomes a national treasure following the radio show 'Round the Horne' and the successful series of film farces 'Carry On'... though he is disdainful of the latter,given that he once trod the boards with Orson Welles. Privately he is a tormented closet gay,sickened by his sexuality,unlike his friend,promiscuous playwright Joe Orton,and desperately asks his 'Carry On' co-star Joan Sims for a show marriage,which she refuses. Ultimately Louie's death,his own hypochondria,a down turn in work and a sense of his own isolation will result in a fatal encounter with a bottle of tablets in 1988. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



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Release Date:

13 March 2006 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Roy Holder plays a cameo part as the older road worker who talks to Williams when he opens flat window. Holder was a main character in the movie Loot (1970), by Joe Orton, Williams' close friend. See more »


References Carry on Cowboy (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

Affectionate and genuinely moving biographical comedy-drama of a comic genius, with a tour-de-force lead performance
6 April 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

To me, Kenneth Williams was a comic genius. I grew up on the Carry on franchise, and the performances of Williams always were one of the main reasons why I am so fond of them. That's not all, he was a fine comedian with a voice and mannerisms that were so distinctive. I was looking forward to watching Fantabulosa! since hearing so many good things about it, and while I was expecting it to be at least watchable, I honestly wasn't expecting something this affectionate and genuinely moving.

A big reason why Fantabulosa! worked was the performance of Michael Sheen. Sheen is a brilliant actor, who always gives his all into everything he plays, and while I had no doubt he would be great as Williams, a tour-de-force of a performance I was not expecting. For that's what Sheen's performance is, one of sheer brilliance. He perfectly nails Williams' mannerisms without falling into the trap of falling into caricature, and the tragic elements to his performance are brought out to genuinely affecting effect.

Sheen has a solid support cast too. We have Cheryl Campbell, who is excellent as the mother. There is Kenny Doughty, who does a fine job as Joe Orton. And there is also Peter Wight who is solid as always. The rest of the Carry On team give fun performances as well even if they aren't the main focus, Beatie Edney and David Charles especially are good as Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey and Ged McKenna is good enough as Sidney James, but at the end of the day it is Sheen who rides heads and shoulders above the rest. The drama is lovingly directed too, with both the comic and tragic elements well-fleshed out without being needlessly flashy.

Fantabulosa! is beautifully shot, and the period detail is beautifully evoked. The background scoring is always sensitive and never over-bearing, also it fits perfectly with the mood of each scene. The script deserves a lot of credit; not only does it not allow the characters to fall into caricature or send themselves up and giving them depth and humanity in the process but the comic elements are hilarious and the tragic ones are poignant and sometimes painful. The story is episodic perhaps in its structure, but for me it doesn't matter when Fantabulosa! has as much involvement and heart as it does, and that the story based on Williams' diaries is that engrossing.

All in all, wonderful and worth seeing for Sheen's magnificent performance alone. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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