Actress

Hattie Jacques Best Film Carry On At Your Convenience
Best Character The Matron in Carry On Matron
Silliest name Miss Haggerd in Carry On Camping
Films 15 - Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cabby, Doctor, Again Doctor, Camping, Loving, At Your Convenience, Abroad, Matron, Dick, That's
Best Line Replying to Sir Bernards remark, "I was once a weak man", she says "Once a week is enough for any man".


Hattie was a grand person in more than one sense of the word – grand in figure, grand-hearted and grand professional on radio, stage and screen.  On screen her image was very overpowering.  For the average person, the indelible memory of her as Matron storming about the corridors with that ‘don’t mess with me’ look in her eye, striking terror in the hearts of everyone in her path.  In one scene in Carry On Doctor, she is walking down the corridor and even the doctors and sick patients move out of her way to let her through.

“Matron’s round” echoing through the corridors in nurse sends the patients and nurses scurrying to their proper places although Bill Owen comes out with such cracks as, “Mine’s a pint!” or “I don’t care if she’s triangular!” from Terence Longden.

Hattie getting a bed bathAlthough she plays a matron 5 times, in Nurse, Camping, Doctor, Again Doctor and Matron, a sister in Regardless, a medical officer in Sergeant and a martinet of a schoolmarm in Teacher, she was by no means stuck with the battleaxe image.  Outsize is usually outrageous which gives her scope for some splendid portrayals of unrequited passions.  In Doctor and Matron she handled this with comic sensitivity which was never embarrassing because it was always tinged with pathos. 

She was written some classic one-liners opposite Kenneth Williams, for example when he says, “I was once a weak man”, when she makes a grab for him.  She replies, “Once a week is enough for any man!”  Her role in At Your Convenience is completely irrelevant to the main storyline and her character is the best one in that film.  She plays a budgerigar-obsessed housewife trying to get it to talk.  With her little-girl voice that contrasts her imposing figure, she portrays the character as slightly cuckoo but nevertheless the woman underneath knows what’s going on around her. 

Hattie was born in Sandgate, Kent in 7th February 1924 but during the war she became a nurse and then an arc-welder.  Working in the factory was where she discovered her defensive talent to make people laugh and always had to cope with being larger than life. 

Her brother took a job at London’s celebrated Little Players Theatre, she asked if she could go along with him.  It didn’t take long for her to worm her way on to stage, singing Victorian songs in late night reviews and giving performances in their panto’s and plays.   Whilst she was at the Players, her famous Fairy Antedota was developed for her own version of a Victorian Cinderella.  This famous Christmas fairy persona was performed there annually for many years and was always very popular.  She returned faithfully to the Players Theatre whenever she could as a performer, produced and occasionally a writer.

Her first big break, like several other Carry Oners was gained on radio.  Her little-girl voice came into its own for Sophie Tuckshop, the greedy school-girl addicted to mammoth meals in Tommy Handley’s ITMA (It’s That Man Again), a series which kept people at home by the radio in the 1940’s.  She met Eric Sykes whilst she was doing a spell on the popular Educating Archie where he contributed some scripts, and this was the beginning of a 30 year partnership with him as his long suffering sister in a succession of a TV series (Sykes being the most famous) that were so popular, many people believed that theyhattie3.jpg (8524 bytes) were really brother and sister.

Hancock’s Half Hour was another radio series that she became involved in, playing alongside Sid James and Kenneth Williams.  She devoted herself almost exclusively to radio, TV and films later on, appearing in Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist and Make Mine Mink.

Hattie was normally typecast and so her talents were never fully exploited because of her imposing figure.  She sometimes expressed a desire to be thinner and she once shed four stone but when she arrived at the TV studio, nobody noticed the difference so she abandoned all thoughts of dieting.  She once said, “When you’re my size, you’re conditioned from childhood to people making jokes against you.  You have to learn to make them laugh with you rather than at you”, and this she did well. 

Hattie and KennyShe was a generous host and thought nothing of inviting everyone home after a long day on the set.  At Christmas and New Year single members of the Carry On team like Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims always had somewhere to go and she hosted wonderful Christmas and New Year parties.

When she died on October 6, 1980 (age 58) in Kensington, London, England from a heart attack, Eric Sykes said that she had been like a real sister to him.  Everyone seemed to run to her with their troubles.  Barbara Windsor said of her, “She never lost her temper and was always helping people with their problems”.  She gave Joan Sims a lot of moral and practical support during a particularly stressful period in her life, which made them close.  “If she had one fault”, her agent said, “it was that she could be easily put upon”.   She was always getting constant requests to do charity work, like personal appearances and she tried to attend them all. 

Hattie Jacques was married to actor John Le Mesurier.  They had two sons and although they later divorced, they remained on good terms with each other.  Her sudden death on October 6, 1980 (age 58) in Kensington, London, England, was a tremendous loss for British Comedy and left a tremendous gap in the Carry Ons that could never by filled. Kenneth Williams said of her, “She was the sort of person one warmed to immediately.  She was blessed with a marvellous personality, tremendous charm and consideration for all those on the film sets.  We had unforgettable times together.”

 

Filmography
 Chronologically (except Carry Ons)
Externally linked to IMDB

Magic Christian, The
Sykes (TV)
Rhubarb Rhubarb (TV)
Monte Carlo or Bust
Crooks and Coronets
Bobo, The
Plank, The (TV)
Miss Adventure (TV)
Punch and Judy Man, The
She'll Have to Go
In the Doghouse
Left Right and Center
Our House (TV)
Make Mine Mink
School for Scoundrels
Watch Your Stern
Follow a Star
Navy Lark, The

Night We Dropped a Clanger, The
Square Peg, The
As Long as They're Happy
Our Girl Friday
Love Lottery, The
Up to His Neck
Pleasure Garden, The
All Hallowe'en
Mother Riley Meets the Vampire
No Haunt for a Gentleman
Pickwick Papers, The
Scrooge
Chance of a Lifetime
Trottie True
Spider and the Fly, The
Oliver Twist
Green for Danger

 


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