It’s been said that the British like eccentrics and I think it’s certainly true that we have a predisposition towards the odd, the awkward – especially where our entertainers are concerned. Britain has had its share of slick matinée idols of course, but there was always something a bit rough around the edges about the likes of Oliver Reed, Richard Burton and Sean Connery.
And what a bunch of rough diamonds the Carry On team were! True British eccentrics and every last one of them great character actors.
A couple of years ago, over at his regular column for The Highland Times, crime writer Tony Black talked about the seemingly perennial plans to reboot the Carry On film series.
And I stuck my neb in too!
“I think it was very much a product of its time. It was the end of the era of seaside postcards. A celebration of absurdity and the grotesque. Things are cleaner these days and people are more delicate. It’s best to keep it in its world of pent up sexual frustration and class war. I think one of the reasons that it worked was because the actors were just that—actors. Not just comedians.”
Not that it’s stopped me trying to write a Carry On crime fiction novel – I’ve been trying for ages! Of course it’s not that easy but the influence is certainly there in a few of my books.
In my first book – Guns Of Brixton – the two hapless and hopeless criminals who dress in drag to rob a jewellery store in Brixton- were based on Bernard Bresslaw and Sid James. And the influence is even stronger in my book Too Many Crooks.
The title was filched from a 1950s comedy that starred Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw. The book’s high- class fence Sidney Hawkins, with his cackling laugh and coarse looks, is completely Sid James. After all, Sid played Charlie Hawkins in Carry On Cabby. Sidney Hawkins even shouts ‘Carry On Criminal!’ at one point.
At least one reviewer spotted the influence and said: ‘If you can imagine a Guy Ritchie film re-cast with Carry On actors, you will come close to understanding this book’s offbeat charm!’
So, I’ll Carry On!
Paul D. Brazill’s books include Last Year’s Man, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has even edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here: https://pauldbrazill.com