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Sidney James (1913-1976)

  1. Harry H Corbett, Carry On Screaming! 1966.   Sid, the Carry Onbulwark - “the dirtiest laugh in film” - was ill. Sid made19 Carry  Onsfor about  £5,000 each. Only missed two, Carry On Behind, as he was touring Australia in  The Mating Season. And this one
  2. Phil Silvers, Follow That Camel (US: Carry On In the Legion),1967.     “The man with a face like an unmade bed” was still unavailable. Silvers needed idiot-boards and unconfirmed rumours said that producer Peter Rogers asked Woody Allen (finishing Casino Royale in London at the time) to take over as Sergeant Nocker.
  3. Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, 1971.     Author Roald Dahl’s original choice to play his eccentric chocolatier was BBC radio Goon Spike Milligan. Next? Spike’s co-Goon Peter Sellers was too expensive. LA’s choice, Joel Grey, was “not physically imposing enough.” Ron Moody would have frightened the horses - and the kids. UK comic Frankie Howerd was into two film farces. Jon Pertwee was wed to Doctor Who. James and fellow Carry On star Kenneth Williams were as keen as (a way too old) Fred Astaire. One by one, all six Monty Pythons (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin) were judged not international enough - and Howerd, Milligan and Pertwee were?! Cleese, Idle and Palin were offered the 2005 re-hash, by wghichy time Chapman had died and Gilliam turned full-time  director.
  4. Phil Silvers, Carry On… Follow That Camel (aka Carry On in the Legion), 1966.      Silvers was the first Hollywoodian to topline one of the UK’s (in)famous UK Carry On farces. The Beau Geste send-up’s Sergeant Knocker had been created for Sid but he was tied up with TV. Worse - two weeks into the filming, he had his first heart attack. The second, on stage in Sunderland, proved fatal.
  5. Windsor Davies, Carry On Behind, 1974.     Not expecting to be called for his  20th  Carry On,  Sid was  in a play - touring  down-under. He  came back in time later in  the year for the Carry On Laughing TV series but never made another Carry On movie. One of the 27th cast, TV star, Jack Douglas, suggested another TV star - Davies of the BBC-TV farce, It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum (don’t ask!),  1974-1981.  He returned for one more, Carry On England, 1976 - true to the Carry On mode, ie. “same film, different titles.”  

 





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