Actor

Kenny having a checkup Best Film Carry On Cleo
Best Character Sir Bernard Cutting in Carry On Matron
Silliest name W C Boggs in Carry On At Your Convenience
Films 26 - Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Jack, Spying, Cleo, Cowboy, Screaming, Don't Lose Your Head, Follow That Camel, Doctor, Up the Khyber, Again Doctor, Camping, Loving, Henry, At Your Convenience, Abroad, Matron, Dick, Behind, That's, Emmannuelle
Best Line "Infamy, Infamy, They've all got it in for me!"


In the early Carry Ons, Kenneth possessed an eccentric charm as a know-all who never suffers fools gladly.  In Sergeant, he is a snobbish recruit who distanced himself from the barrack room frolics but eventually uses his knowledge of sociology to pull the unit together.  In Nurse, he is the only patient to have the nerve to stand up to matron and later masterminds their operations. 

Regardless sees him as the intellectual of the Helping Hands Agency who tempers his arrogance by taking a chimp for a walk in London.  Spying is the first taste we have of his Snide character which he has used many times in his radio shows, Hancock’s Half Hour and Round the Horne.   He moves on toKenny look at something interesting portraying a rather camp Caesar in Cleo, introduced with the line, “Ooh, I do feel queer!” and the mincing Citizen Camembert in Don’t Lose Your Head.

The urgent superciliousness of his doctor roles, whether it’s Carver in Again Doctor, terrified that others will steal his ideas, or the frantic hypochondriac, Sir Bernard Cutting in Matron, who only has to hear about an illness to be convinced he is dying from it.  Always a reluctant screen lover, the double act he enjoys with Hattie Jacques in fleeing her unwanted attentions are the mainstay of the medical Carry Ons.

The many voices Kenneth employed, hit the heights of snobbery and then dipped immediately into common Cockney.  He became the master of double entendre that would not work from anyone else’s mouth.

Kenneth enjoyed the longest run in the series, appearing in the first, Sergeant and in the last proper one, Emmannuelle, and all but four in the middle.  

Kenny's first successes started in radio, like several other Carry Oners.  Born in 22nd February, 1926, he trained as a lithographer, and acting with the Tavistock Repertory Theatre until he joined the army.  He started his army career as a lithographer but while he was in Singapore, he asked for transfer to the Combined Entertainments Unit, but was refused the transfer.  However, he managed to talk the Commander into allowing him to stay on to design the posters, and eventually became the entertainer he wanted to be.  Whilst in the army, he came into contact with entertainers like Stanley Baxter, who became a The Khasi gets to grips with the problemslifelong friend.

After the war he worked in Repertory for several years until his performance in Henry VI in Birmingham attracted attention.  He signed with the Old Vic but asked to be released from his contract after a week as he had wanted to appear in the TV version of HG Well’s Wonderful Visit.

Working with Kenneth Horne in Round the Horne, and Beyond Our Ken was where Kenneth excelled himself, and this was where he felt the happiest, thinking of Kenneth Horne as a father-figure.  Hancock’s Half Hour was where his Snide voice made him even more famous.  When he uttered the phrase, “Stop messin’ about!” it sent the theatre into rapturous applause and this was one of the many reasons why Tony Hancock pushed Kenneth out.  Hancock thought that comedy should flow and not be interrupted with laughter and also thought of his Snide voice as a gimmick and a cheap laugh.  He was deeply upset when Hancock, in his never ending attempt to strip his act down to the basic essentials, dropped him from the cast.  But Kenneth moved on to compere the very successful International Cabaret, with his long circuitous introductions. Later, the producers in fact, reduced the acts and extended his introductions.  He later had limited success with The Kenneth Williams Show and Stop Messin’ About, and will always be remembered as a frequent guest on TV chat shows and a witty contributor to radio’s Just A Minute.Kenny and Joan get close in Up the Khyber

Kenneth would only accept parts in which he felt comfortable and over the years came to prefer TV and films to stage work.  He didn’t like the unsociable hours of the theatre and got bored easily doing the same thing over and over again.  He said, “It’s different with the Carry Ons, every time the team get together it’s like a family reunion”.

Kenneth’s talents were many sided.  He wrote several books, including an autobiographical series, Just Williams, Acid Drops, Back Drops and I Only Have To Close My Eyes.  He lived very simply in a plain flat and had sensitivity for music, poetry and painting.

On the set, he would often ease the tension by regaling the cast and crew with a stream of anecdotes and impersonations, but remained undoubtedly, the most idiosyncratic member of the team.

Following his death on April 15, 1988 (age 62) in London, England, his diaries and personal letters were released and revealed him to be a complex character of contradictions, confusions and depression.

Gerald Thomas said of him, “Kenneth was a gentleman in all respects.  He was a very generous performer and gave 100%, whether on or off the screen.  He had no time for unprofessional conduct on the set and was held with great affection by his fellow artists.  He was a wonderful storyteller and kept us in fits of laughter off stage, particularly when reminiscing with Kenneth Connor and Joan Sims.  As part of the Carry On team, Kenneth is irreplaceable and as a great and much loved friend of mine is sadly missed”.

 

Filmography
 Chronologically (except Carry Ons)
Externally linked to IMDB

Arabian Knight (Voice)
Galloping Galaxies! (TV, Voice)
Whizzkid's Guide (TV)
Willow the Wisp (TV, Voice)
Hound of the Baskervilles, The
Twice Round the Daffodils
His and Hers
Raising the Wind
Make Mine Mink
Tommy the Toreador
Hancock's Half Hour (TV)
Seekers, The
Valley of Song
Innocents in Paris

 


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