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eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherOxford University Press
File size4.6 Mb
Pages count224
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Kenneth Williams 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.

His professional career began in 1948 in repertory theatre. Failure to become a serious dramatic actor disappointed him, but his potential as a comic performer gave him his break when he was spotted playing the Dauphin in George Bernard Shaw's St Joan in 1954 by radio producer Dennis Main Wilson. Main Wilson was casting Hancock's Half Hour, a radio series starring Tony Hancock. Playing mostly funny voice roles, Williams stayed in the series almost to the end, five years later. His nasal, whiny, camp-cockney inflections (epitomised in his "Stop messing about...!" catchphrase) became popular with listeners.

He joined Kenneth Horne in Beyond Our Ken (1958–1964), and its sequel, Round the Horne (1965–1968). His roles in Round the Horne included Rambling Syd Rumpo, the eccentric folk singer; Dr Chou En Ginsberg, MA (failed), Oriental criminal mastermind; J. 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 1960s and 1970s, mainly in the Carry On series (1958–1978) with its British double entendre-laced humour. He appeared in the series more than any other actor. He often criticised Carry On films, his own performances and those of others, considering them beneath him. Despite this, he spoke fondly of the Carry On films in interviews. Peter Rogers, producer of the series, recollected, "Kenneth was worth taking care of because, while he cost very little – £5,000 a film, he made a great deal of money for the franchise."

Williams was a regular on the BBC radio panel game Just a Minute from its second season in 1968 until his death.On television he was a frequent contributor to the 1973-1974 revival of What's My Line?, hosted the weekly entertainment show International Cabaret and was a reader for the children's story-reading series Jackanory on BBC1. He appeared on Michael Parkinson's chat show on eight occasions, during which he told anecdotes from his career. Williams was a stand-in host on the Wogan talk show in 1986.

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