Kenneth Williams
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Although 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 80’s.

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.

It was Noel Coward whose technique I envied and tried to emulate. I collected all his records and writing.


'Just Williams' 1985

Suggested films to see:

Carry on Cleo (1964)
Carry on Doctor (1967)
Carry on up the Kyber (1968)



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