Cer­tain to Carry On re­mem­ber­ing Au­drey

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

LAST year on the 80th an­niver­sary of Pinewood Stu­dios I wrote a col­umn about my vis­its there in the 1990s. These trips were thanks to Au­drey Skin­ner, well known in am­a­teur dra­matic cir­cles in the bor­ough, but whose day job was at the fa­mous stu­dios where she spent more than 30 years. There are some peo­ple you feel you have al­ways known, so I can’t re­mem­ber my first meet­ing with Au­drey, who sadly died last week. I was prob­a­bly in the au­di­ence watch­ing her in one of the many plays in which she per­formed with com­pa­nies such as Phoenix The­atre Com­pany and The­atre 7, of­ten along­side her late hus­band Michael.

Au­drey worked for Peter Rogers, pro­ducer of 31 Carry On films, as well as Ger­ald Thomas, di­rec­tor of the films, which are fa­mous for their saucy hu­mour and dou­ble en­ten­dres. She fondly re­ferred to her bosses as ‘my two gen­tle­men’.

In 1972 Au­drey started at Pinewood, work­ing for the video com­pany Zoom tele­vi­sion. “At first my eyes were ev­ery­where. I was star-struck!” she told me. She re­mem­bered the hey­day, when stars filled the res­tau­rant. Sir Lau­rence Olivier was ‘very unas­sum­ing’ she said, although some up-and-com­ing star­lets could be the op­po­site.

Au­drey re­mem­bered see­ing Joan Sims film­ing with Ken­neth Wil­liams on the set of Carry On Dick, say­ing: “There was a scene where she was about to walk down the stairs to Ken­neth Wil­liams, but they both kept burst­ing out laugh­ing. They all knew each other so well, it was like a fam­ily. They would come into lunch laugh­ing, laugh all through lunch and leave laugh­ing.”

She loved be­ing on set. “The nov­elty never wore off. Though it takes away the il­lu­sion, it never spoilt it for me. In the early days when they were set­ting up lights, I would day­dream and wish it was for me. I’d love to have been in a Carry On film.”

Ev­ery­one I spoke to at Pinewood loved Au­drey, in­clud­ing Bar­bara Wind­sor, one of the few sur­viv­ing cast mem­bers, whom I met on one of my trips there.

But it wasn’t the stars that made my trips there so spe­cial – it was Au­drey with her lovely throaty voice and laugh, and I’ll al­ways be grate­ful to her. She was fun, mod­est and gen­er­ous, and will be missed not only by me, but many oth­ers in Hilling­don who would like her to have ‘car­ried on’ for ever.

Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­bara@gmail.com

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