Certain to Carry On remembering Audrey
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 firstname.lastname@example.org