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The Girls of ‘Carry On’

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Idealised post-war Britain that no longer exists – warm beer and village greens, knotted handkerchiefs and women getting changed on the beach behind a wind-break. Carry On films are an intrinsic part of being British – and despite the sexual innuendo and double entendres, the Carry On films were actually quite innocent, safe and homely.

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Much British TV comedy subsequently took up the mantle of Carry On humour; Dad’s Army and Are You Being Served? could easily have been ‘Carry On Home Guard’ and ‘Carry On Department Store’.

Indeed Wendy Richard made the transition from Carry On films to Are You Being Served? – and ultimately re-joined her former colleague Barbara Windsor (pictured below) in EastEnders. In many ways, Windsor’s role as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders seems like a grown-up version of her character in Carry On Camping.

Dilys Laye was recruited from the Broadway stage. Anita Harris had been primarily a singer before the Carry Ons.

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June Whitfield has probably appeared with more comedians than any other female in the history of the world – she has been called the “comedian’s moll” and has worked with everyone from Tony Hancock to Julian Clary. Her most successful partnership was with former Carry On co-star, Terry Scott.

Liz Fraser (pictured below) was born above a corner shop in south London in 1930, and brought up single-handedly by her mother after her father died when she was just 11. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was still in her 40s and underwent three lumpectomy operations, reducing her once famous 32DD bust, but she told no one.

She also had heart problems – which she’s reluctant to talk about – and wears a pacemaker.

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Joan Sims – who had been the most versatile of the female cast – died in June 2001

Angela Douglas was in CowboyCamelScreaming and Khyber.

The comedy legacy of the Carry On girls stretches over five decades. Hattie, Barbara, Joan and June are the stars of British comedy.

From saucy seaside stereotypes, these actresses have built reputations which have won a place in the hearts and minds of everyday Britons.

The Carry On girls invasion of TV sitcoms and soaps has ensured they have become British institutions.

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