Manual Kenneth Williams Unseen: The private notes, scripts and photographs

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Barbara Windsor MBE b. Should I know you? Yet there is much more to be known, as this book will show. The public appetite for intimate details of his life, which has not diminished in the twenty years since his death, was created by him. Williams knew that his was a most unusual, possibly unique, personality type, and the glimpses he publicly offered of himself — those half-hinted confessions and protestations of celibacy — were not simply made as teases to keep his public interested.

He himself wanted to know, I think, how people would regard him if they came to know more of the truth of who he was. To that end he would sneak out fragments of his authentic self. An opportunity was lost in his autobiography, Just Williams , the kind of carefully judged performance that could have been read on Radio 4 without expurgation.

A franker book might have helped him, and us. As Kenneth was aware, the world from which he disappeared in was already changing quickly. As an 82 year old in , he could have held his place in the media firmament alongside surviving contemporaries like Sir David Attenborough and David Jacobs, his fellow-broadcasters, and his old friend Stanley Baxter, all born in Indeed, Kenneth was almost exactly two months older than Her Majesty the Queen.

Parts of his comedy world ought by now to be in ruins. The Carry On tradition was insular even in its own day, laden with funny foreigners and semi-inflatable, perpetually shocked, seaside-postcard women. By contrast, the campery of the Kenneth Horne radio performances seems almost uncorroded, and has lately become a mainstay of BBC7, the digital-radio archival network.

The extent to which his career relied on the continuity of BBC work has perhaps been underestimated before, but it is thoroughly explored in these pages. Kenneth was much loved, in both a show business and a personal sense. Many of his friends and fans will forever argue hotly against the notion of his suicide, and in favour of misadventure. Meanwhile the open verdict which the Coroner actually returned stands as a perpetual invitation to reconsider the case. But some important opinions have never been heard.

The world knew nothing of these gentlemen at the time, and they very reasonably preferred to keep it that way. She, like Ken, was regarded with some wonderment by those who met her socially, chiefly on account of her unforgettable voice, a growling cigarette-fuelled basso that was very nearly male. The fact that Charlie Williams was not her real father explained much of the tension between daughter and Dad, and indeed between Pat and Kenneth. Pat Williams was already enduring her final illness when she gave her interview, and several others who recorded their impressions at that time have also left us: Isabel Dean, Betty Marsden, Derek Nimmo, Dennis Main Wilson, Barry Took and Eric Merriman.

Only fragments of their testimony appeared in the original programme, and I am grateful to the BBC for allowing them to speak now at length, if only on the printed page. Kenneth Williams kept his memorabilia neatly filed and classified. Had he put together his own scrapbook of his life, much of it would have looked very like the book you are holding.

Taken together with the sound of his voice, which is still so readily and multifariously available, these pages bring him as nearly back to life as we can manage.

Kenneth Williams Unseen: The private notes, scripts and photographs - eBook -

We hope he would have understood our desire — even need — to do so. He was proud to be a Cockney. It seems wrong. Even if Hancock had left no suicide note there would have been little doubt that his exit was deliberate.

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Nobody needed to ask why. But in general his working life had begun to consist of spin-offs and guest appearances; the central column of his career was inert, without its theatrical and cinematic inputs, and with little serious drama even on radio. That marked the beginning of the end, and the end came a little over two years later. Broadly speaking, there are two views on the matter, both very sincerely held. His neighbour Paul Richardson feels that strongly, even though the subject of suicide had arisen between them.

I do not believe that at all. I think with him taking Gaviscon and all kinds of pills to stop the pulsating pain, he did take an accidental overdose. I firmly believe that, because in no way would he have left behind Louie on her own. And I really think it was an accidental death. His mother was the most important person to him in the world, I think. Kenneth was far too professional not to do that.

Kenneth Williams Unseen: The Private Notes, Scripts And Photographs

I think it was a mistake. During his marriage to Valerie he had a well publicised affair with his Carry On co-star, Barbara Windsor, which was documented in the stage-play Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick and its television adaptation Cor, Blimey! James was an inveterate gambler, and a largely unsuccessful one, losing tens of thousands of pounds over his lifetime. His gambling addiction was such that he had an agreement with his agent, Michael Sullivan, whereby his wife did not know how much he was being paid, with a portion set aside for gambling. Kenneth Williams 22 February — 15 April was an English comic actor and comedian, star of 26 Carry On films, numerous British television shows, and radio comedies with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.

He was educated at Lyulph Stanley School, later becoming apprenticed as a draughtsman to a mapmaker. He joined the Army in at Excerpts from the diaries he kept as an adult show he adored his supportive, theatrical mother but despised his homophobic, morose and selfish father. His professional career began in in repertory theatre. Playing mostly funny voice roles, Williams stayed in the series almost to the end, five years later.

When Hancock moved the show away from what he considered gimmicks and silly voices, Williams had less to do on the programme. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, telephone heavy breather and dirty old man; and Sandy of the camp couple Julian and Sandy Julian was played by Hugh Paddick. Their double act was notable for double entendres and Polari, the homosexual slang. Williams worked regularly in British film during the s and s, mainly in the Carry On series — with its British double entendre-laced humour. He appeared in the series more than any other actor.

In his diaries, Williams wrote that he earned more in a British Gas commercial than for any Carry On film. He often criticised Carry On films, his own performances and those of others, considering them beneath him. This was the case with many of the films, television programmes, stage plays and radio shows in which he appeared.

He was quick to find fault with his own work. Despite this, he spoke fondly of the Carry On films in interviews. Williams was a regular on the BBC radio panel game Just a Minute from its second season in until his death. He also talked for almost a minute [7] about a supposed Austrian psychiatrist called Heinrich Swartzberg, guessing that show creator Ian Messiter had just made the name up. Williams was a stand-in host on the Wogan talk show in Williams refused to visit him, and the following day went out for lunch and then to the cinema. Charlie died that afternoon and, an hour after being informed, Williams went on stage in the West End.

Several years later Williams turned down work with Orson Welles in America because he did not like the country and had no desire to work there. Williams insisted that he was celibate, and his diaries substantiate his claims — at least from his early 40s onwards. He lived alone all his adult life and had few close companions apart from his mother, and no romantic relationships of significance. It has been suggested that Williams was a repressed homosexual. He befriended gay playwright Joe Orton, who wrote the role of Inspector Truscott in Loot for him, and had holidays with Orton and his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, in Morocco.

Williams lived in a succession of small rented flats in north London from the mids. After his father died, his mother, Louisa, lived close by him and, finally, in the flat next to his. His last home was a flat on Osnaburgh Street, now demolished. Williams rarely revealed details of his private life, though he spoke openly to Owen Spencer-Thomas about his loneliness, despondency and sense of underachievement in two half-hour documentary programmes entitled Carry On Kenneth on BBC Radio London. He died on 15 April in his flat; [13] the cause of death was an overdose of barbiturates.

His authorised biography argues that Williams did not take his own life but died of an accidental overdose. His death was due to heart failure from the interaction between pain killers and sleeping pills. He had a stock of painkilling tablets and it is argued that he would have taken more of them if he had been contemplating suicide. Williams wrote his diaries from the age of 14 in until his death 48 years later, although the earliest to survive to publication was for when he reached Williams kept pocket-sized diaries for and he kept no diaries for to as he was touring the Far East in the army ; a desk diary for ; pocket-sized diaries for and ; desk diaries for to ; standard edition desk diaries for to , and finally A4-sized executive desk diaries for to He claimed that writing in his diaries eased the loneliness he often felt.

The first of the programmes said that, towards the end of his life and struggling with depression and ill health, Williams abandoned Christian faith following discussions with the poet Philip Larkin. This drew for the first time on the full Williams archive of diaries and letters, which had been stored in a London bank for 15 years following publication of edited extracts.

Williams has been portrayed in two made-for-television films. Benson reprised his performance at the Edinburgh Fringe and continues to tour. The flat Williams had lived in on Osnaburgh Street from until his death was bought by Rob Brydon and Julia Davis for the writing of their comedy series Human Remains. The building was demolished in May The theatre stands in the Regents Place development, site of the demolished Osnaburgh Street.

Beginning at a young age as a boy soprano, he made several records before moving on to the radio. His later career encompassed the theatre as both actor and director , the cinema where he regularly appeared supporting Will Hay in the s and 40s in films such as The Ghost of St Michaels , through the Carry On films, and television.

However, his father was actually a London car mechanic. Hawtrey made an early start to a career that was to span a period of almost 60 years, and broke through in all the major entertainment media of the time. Following study at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, he embarked on a career in the theatre as both actor and director. Finally he moved into the cinema where he regularly appeared supporting Will Hay in the s and 40s in films such as The Ghost of St Michaels through the Carry On films, to the television screen.

He guarded his relationships very carefully, perhaps no surprise in an age when male homosexual behaviour in Britain was illegal and punishable by a prison sentence. Nevertheless a few anecdotes told by his colleagues shed a little light on the character off-screen. A lot of strain was put on him by his mother, who suffered senile dementia in later years. Hawtrey, without batting an eyelid, poured a cup of tea into it to put out the flames, snapped the purse shut and continued with his story.

Hawtrey was also prone to such tendencies and again in his diaries, Williams recounted his gathering up of the leftover sandwiches from a buffet for the Carry On cast. While filming Carry On Spying she thought he had fainted from fright at a dramatic scene on a conveyor belt—in fact he had passed out because he was drunk. When he came on set with a crate of R. Nevertheless he was an integral face to the Carry On family, smoking Woodbines profusely and playing cards between takes with Sid James and his gang.

Hawtrey finally retired to Deal in Kent in the s, where he devoted much time to the consumption of alcohol. He cut an eccentric figure in the small town and was well known for promenading along the seafront in extravagant attire, waving cheerfully to the fishermen, and his frequenting of establishments patronised by students of the famous Royal Marine School of Music.

He caused a news scandal in August when his house caught fire after he went to bed with a teenager and left a cigarette burning. Newspaper photos from the time show a fireman carrying an emotional, partially clothed and sans toupee Hawtrey down a ladder to safety. In October , he was taken to hospital after breaking his leg in a fall in front of a public house. He was discovered to be suffering from peripheral vascular disease, a condition of the arteries brought on by a lifetime of heavy smoking.

Hawtrey was told that in order to save his life, his legs would have to be amputated. He refused, allegedly saying he preferred to die with his boots on, and died almost a month later, aged On his deathbed, Hawtrey supposedly threw a vase at his nurse who asked for a final autograph — it was the last thing he did. His ashes were scattered in Mortlake Crematorium, close to Chiswick in London and no friends or family attended. He became a leading participant in the Carry On series of films throughout the s and s, mostly playing characters that ranged from the wimpish through the effete to the effeminate.

His last film was Carry On Abroad , after which he was dropped from the series. After this, producer Peter Rogers stopped using him for Carry On roles. Charles Hawtrey made his first appearance on the stage in Boscombe , on the English south coast, as early as Hawtrey continued to appear in a number of plays throughout the s and s in the run-up to the Second World War.

The play ran for an impressive performances, before moving to the Golders Green Hippodrome in Barnet on 16 August Built on the Brentford side of Kew Bridge in with seats , over 1, plays were presented here until it was demolished in Charles Hawtrey was an accomplished musician and had been a semi-professional pianist for the armed forces during WWII , and recorded several records as a boy soprano. In , he made several duets with girl soprano Evelyn Griffiths aged 11 for the Regal label.

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While Shepherds Watched Rec. Daly: [8]. Morrissey was an admirer. Hawtrey did not respond, says the article, and Morrissey had to go with his second choice Sandie Shaw. In this, Wolfe explored the comic situations that could be found by passing through doorways—into a theatrical dressing-room, for example. Hattie Jacques as librarian Georgina Ruddy, who was forced to keep quiet at work and so made up for it by being extremely noisy at home, was arguably the star of the series.

Joan Sims starred as the unemployable Daisy Burke. The series initially ran for 13 episodes from September to December , returning the following year with Bernard Bresslaw and Hylda Baker as Henrietta added to the cast.

Of the 39 episodes in total, only three survive today. She accompanied him on insurance assignments and protected him when he was feeling put upon by his Uncle Sidney, who wished to—but could not—dismiss his nephew from the firm. Filmed in the s in Wales and Corsica, this adventure series had three small brothers nicknamed Toughy, Smarty and Mouse who run away to find an uninhabited island. The series had adapted the popular books by Forrest Wilson and related the adventures of a happy and gentle old lady, known as Granny Smith, played by Gudrun Ure.

The comedian Billy Connolly also appeared in the episode. Phase One, in which Doris gets her oats! Hawtrey was portrayed by Hugh Walters in the television film Cor, Blimey! The stage play Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick , on which the former film was based, did not actually include Hawtrey as a character. In the pilot episode of the now abandoned Carryoons animated series , the voice of Charles Hawtrey was provided by actor Clive Greenwood. Born in Shoreditch, London in , [3] Windsor was the only child of John and Rose Deeks, who were a costermonger and dressmaker, respectively.

Windsor is of English and Irish ancestry. Her mother paid for her to have elocution lessons, and she trained at the Aida Foster School in Golders Green, making her stage debut at 13 and her West End debut in in the chorus of the musical Love From Judy. She also appeared in several Carry On… television and compilation specials between and Her most famous scene was in Carry On Camping where, during outdoor aerobic exercises, her bikini top flew off to reveal her breasts. During this time she had a well-publicised affair with her co-star, Sid James.

She was strongly identified with the Carry On films for many years which restricted the variety of roles she was chosen to play later. She reprised the role for a national tour in In , Windsor was cast in the series. She took over the role Peggy Mitchell previously played by Jo Warne in , for which she received the Best Actress award at the British Soap Awards in and a Lifetime Achievement award from the same source in A debilitating case of the Epstein-Barr virus forced a two year absence from EastEnders from to During this period she made a two episode appearance in She rejoined the cast in mid on a one year contract.

In October , Windsor announced she was to quit her role as Peggy Mitchell, saying she wanted to spend more time with her husband. Following her on-screen departure, she ruled out ever returning to the series. She also published her autobiography, All of Me. Windsor examined her family tree in the first episode of the third series of the documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? On 8 September , it was announced that Barbara Windsor will be fronting a TV campaign for online bingo site Jackpotjoy.

In November she was awarded a top variety gong for her contribution to showbusiness. In her autobiography, All of Me , Windsor talks about her five abortions, the first three of which took place before the age of 21, the last when she was She has said that she never wanted children as a result of her father rejecting her.

Over the years, Windsor has made her home in a variety of locations. She was a real-life landlady when she ran a pub called The Plough at Winchmore Hill, Buckinghamshire with her second husband, Stephen Hollings. In August , Barbara Windsor was given the Freedom of the City of London [23] and, in November , she was honoured by the City of Westminster at a tree planting and plaque ceremony.

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BBC News. Retrieved Jacques was married to John Le Mesurier from until their divorce in Retrieved December 30, Nottingham: SoccerData Tony Brown. ISBN The Daily Telegraph London. Retrieved 4 May Early films and radio James made his first appearances in Night Beat and Black Memory , both crime dramas. Most notably, in Carry On Cowboy , he adopted an American accent for his part as The Rumpo Kid : The cast make valiant attempts to maintain American accents, with the most convincing belonging to—surprisingly—Sid James, who made no attempt to disguise his accent in any other film, either before or after this one.

Rigelsford, Adrian Carry On Laughing — a celebration. London: Virgin. The Shields Gazette. Sunderland Echo. Sid James: A Biography. Virgin Books.