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Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (2006)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Comedy | Drama  -  13 March 2006 (UK)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 462 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

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

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(as Andy de Emmony)

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Title: Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (TV Movie 2006)

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Cast

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

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

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13 March 2006 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Connections

References Carry on Sergeant (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

An interesting if not totally successful character piece
1 May 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

From his early appearance on stage dressed as a girl as a child, Williams was always one for the limelight and always a rather, well, mincing character. It was a trait he put to good use across his career in comedies ranging from Round the Horne on the radio to the Carry On films on the big screen. At one time he was popular across the UK and perhaps the world, with his harshest critic being none other than himself. Being dropped from Hancock's Half Hour for just doing funny voices, he worries that he will fade without ever blooming, but then along came Carry On Sergeant.

To people of my generation, Williams is famous for his voice mannerisms and work on Willo-the-Wisp and his similar characters in the Carry On series of films. I watched this film to get a bit more background to the man and, although it doesn't do much to really get to grips with the man, it is certainly very interesting in painting a convincing picture of the man. Williams is presented as a rather peculiar man who is confused by his own sexuality, has a very close relationship with his mother, is viewed as a ponce by his father and was quite adored by his fans. The film ignores the detail of the Carry On films and barely shows his famous colleagues but instead focuses on Williams himself, spending a lot of time with him alone in his room, full of self-loathing, self-abuse and self-doubt. Although it is possible after the film to sum this character up into pigeonholes (as opposed to being an unique, real person) it is still interesting to get more information on what his life offscreen was like. It isn't a wonderful character study but it does enough.

Michael Sheen is a big part of the film working because he not only gets the impersonation spot on, he only has the ability to go beyond that and get close to producing a real person. The narration helps him but in his scenes he still produces a real person (or at least as close as the material was going to get). He is the main show here but he is well supported by Campbell as his mother and various impersonations from Edney, Trenaman, Charles, Clarke and a few others.

Overall an interesting and engaging film even if it doesn't totally get into the heart of character. Sheen's performance could easily have just been an impression but he does well to try and bring out more of the person behind the public personae. Not totally successful but interesting nonetheless.


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