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Williams, Kenneth (1926-1988)


Main image of Williams, Kenneth (1926-1988)

Vitriolic, nostril-flaring, hypochondriac actor whose catch-phrases included "Stop messing about!" and "Oh, get on with it!"

A former lithographic draughtsman, Kenneth Williams began his career in rep (1948) before he began working on radio appearing from 1954 on Hancock's Half Hour where he gained popularity for the comical voices he could produce.

He appeared uncredited in his first film Trent's Last Case (d. Herbert Wilcox, 1952) but in 1958, cast as James Bailey in Carry on Sergeant (d. Gerald Thomas, 1958), he began to make a name for himself appearing alongside actors such as Sid James, Hattie Jacques and Eric Barker in 26 Carry On films over a 20-year period. His wildly camp persona often added a teasing note of sexual ambiguity to his most apparently innocent remarks.

After these films ceased production, Williams continued to appear regularly on radio as a panellist on Just A Minute. He also became a regular on the chat-show circuit especially after the publication of his autobiography Just Williams (1985).

Autobiography: The Kenneth Williams Diaries edited by Russell Davies (1993).

Anne-Marie Thomas, Encyclopedia of British Cinema

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From the BFI's filmographic database

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)

Comedy about union unrest at the W.C. Boggs toilet factory

Thumbnail image of Carry On Nurse (1958)Carry On Nurse (1958)

The second Carry On, with the team beginning to take shape

Thumbnail image of Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)

Highly entertaining Empire spoof from the usual team

Thumbnail image of Hancock's Half Hour (1956-60)Hancock's Half Hour (1956-60)

The original British sitcom - and still one of the best

Thumbnail image of Jackanory (1965-96)Jackanory (1965-96)

Long-running BBC children's story-telling series

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Carry OnCarry On

Britain's longest-running big-screen comedy series

Thumbnail image of The Carry On LegacyThe Carry On Legacy

An analysis of what kept Carry On carrying on

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