he didn’t always have great things to say about the films –
sometimes criticising his co stars ability– this did not stop
him making quite a few!. Apparently there was a great sense of camaraderie
in the crew and you could just imagine the things these actors would
get up to whilst off set. In fact some are documented! In is well known
that he became lifelong friends with some of these actors and they were
with him right up to his death.
When the films ended he turned his attention to other things. But his
quick mind and comedic nature soon made him a regular on chat shows
and he was to continue to appear regularly on radio as a panelist on
‘Just a Minute’. In Britain he will also be remembered by
30 something's as the voice of ‘Willo the Wisp’ –
the cartoon character that graced our screens as we ate our tea in the
This theatre career was mixed. He had done revues penned by Peter Cook
whilst still at Cambridge and also worked with Sheila Hancock in ‘One
over the Eight’. He also starred opposite Jennie Linden in the
stage hit My Fat Friend in 1972 and with Ingrid Bergman in a highly
successful stage production of George Bernard Shaw's Captain Brassbound's
Conversion in 1971.
His personal life was often troubled. Whilst never openly admitting
to it – he struggled with his homosexuality for most of his life.
He was friends with Joe Orton who wrote the role of Inspector Truscott
in Loot (1966) for him and some fellow actors such as Stanley Baxter,
Gordon Jackson, Sheila Hancock, Dame Maggie Smith and her playwright
husband Beverly Cross. At one point he proposed to Joan Sims (a celibate
marriage) but was turned down.
Then one day Williams Mum went to wake him up – she beside him
– but the great man was dead. Investigation of the scene uncovered
that he had taken an overdose of sleeping pills in addition to his regular
pain killers – it was this combination that caused his death.
Many people maintain that it was his love for his mother that prevented
him from committing suicide.
Kenneth Williams was undoubtedly a highly enigmatic chap whose personal
nuances some found difficult to cope with. But if you accepted the films
he made, as what they were meant to be – great fun – you
also accepted Williams. He was also famous for answering fan mail and
seldom could someone say that he hadn’t replied without a personally
hand written letter and signed photograph.
The last words in his dairy were ‘Oh, what's the bloody point?’
A fan club is a group of people who tell an actor he's not alone in
the way he feels about himself.
was Noel Coward whose technique I envied and tried to emulate. I collected
all his records and writing.
Carry on Cleo (1964)
Carry on Doctor (1967)
Carry on up the Kyber (1968)