Fenella Fielding

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Those we have lost in comedy, 2018

It had already been a bad year for comedy industry deaths even before the late-breaking news that legend Dame June Whitfield had died.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 30th December 2018

Fenella Fielding obituary

Fenella Fielding, who has died aged 90, was one of the most glamorous faces of 1960s British film, a slinky femme fatale with a throaty drawl and come-hither stare best known for her roles in the Carry On and Doctor comedy capers.

The Telegraph, 12th September 2018

Obituary: Fenella Fielding

She was a serious actress remembered for a single, stand-out comic performance.

BBC, 12th September 2018

Fenella Fielding on fighting with Kenneth Williams

She survived a violent upbringing to become the 60s' favourite comedy vamp. As she turns 90, the star remembers fending off Norman Wisdom, attempting suicide - and having two lovers for 20 years.

Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian, 8th November 2017

Radio Times review

If you have a favourite Carry On, the chances are it features in this edition. Episode one covered the film series's faltering early steps, up to Carry On Jack. Now we're wading into the golden period, the mid-to late 60s, with genre spoofs Carry On Spying, Cleo, Cowboy and Screaming.

Barbara Windsor is starkly absent from this affectionate celebration, but her co-stars Jim Dale, Amanda Barrie and Julian Holloway reminisce with joy. The extraordinary Fenella Fielding returns to a former haunt used in Screaming, Anita Harris revisits Follow That Camel's Saharan location (Camber Sands), while Angela Douglas is taken Up the Khyber (Snowdon). There's also a lovely tribute to Hattie Jacques and rare behind-the-scenes footage of Sid James and Kenneth Williams at work.

Patrick Mulkern, Radio Times, 4th April 2015

When a show causes your hands to involuntarily clamp your face in a Munch-like scream of a Sunday evening, it seems careless not mention it. And so, while there was some good, honest programme-making in the schedules last week I must purge myself of Kookyville before returning to the sphere of the critically temperate.

"Welcome to a sketch show with a difference ..." purred Fenella Fielding, deployed in the Tom Baker/Little Britain role of ironic posho narrator. "These people are not actors or comedians and there's no script ... they're just real funny people."

And if you thought that some combo of comedians, acting, scripts or forethought was almost fundamental to the sketch-show format, then you obviously lack the basic contempt for human beings of the Kookyville commissioners. This, you see, was nothing less than the first example of "constructed reality comedy", in no way the kind of idea that would be farted out by an Apprentice contestant should they ever be asked to tackle TV production.

As with your basic constructed reality show, the idea was that a bunch of purportedly non-fictional people go about their purportedly non-fictional lives while excreting stilted dialogue in obviously staged set-ups. Only here, in a presumed attempt to justify that comedy billing, the dialogue came with the added stench of sub-Frankie Boyle obnoxiousness.

Not every scene was unwatchable. The one involving two Essex girls' protracted intellectual struggle at a farm was merely a failed audition piece for The Only Way is Essex, while Bradford entrepreneur Afzal safely plumped for being re-christened Ricky Meh-vais with his unofficial tribute to David Brent. More attention-grabbing, sadly, was swearword-happy pensioner Ronnie who, likely concerned about the mellow view of her generation being peddled by BBC1's Last Tango in Halifax, mimed a diarrhoea episode in her local Chinese. Before volunteering to chew Simon Cowell's balls.

So vanilla, you say? Well, then, I give you the mother-daughter pair Suzanne and Annierose, seen gawping and gasping at a dwarf before contemplating the horror of one trying to suckle Annierose's breasts. And - my favourite - the hotelier couple who joked about trying to throw a Thalidomide victim through a window, which also allowed for that old impressionist's standard routine, wholly ignored by Rory Bremner et al, the "ickle-wickle Thalidomide victim voice".

The programme was fair in one respect; the joke, such as it was, was on everyone: the short and disabled; the "real" comics, representing all those funny, uncouth sorts outside metropolitan media circles; the godforsaken viewer; and, of course, the beleaguered Channel 4, increasingly prone to trolling audiences for attention. In that respect, Kookyville succeeded, whipping up a social media gale and instant reviews along the lines of "Put this atrocity out of its misery". But the obvious point, inside the Twittersphere and out, is that exercising your right to provoke mindlessly will eventually result only in mass unfollows.

Hugh Montgomery, The Independent, 2nd December 2012