Comedy film star to be at festival

STEPHEN PULLINGER It was the era when Yarmouth swarmed with holidaymakers throughout the summer. And Carry On star Jack Douglas recalls it was not just the guesthouses that were fully booked - theatres were packing them in all along the seafront.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It was the era when Yarmouth swarmed with holidaymakers throughout the summer.

And Carry On star Jack Douglas recalls it was not just the guesthouses that were fully booked - theatres were packing them in all along the seafront.

Jack, famed for the flat cap and nervous twitch of his enduring character, Alf Ippititimus, will stir memories of those halcyon days when he appears at the Yarmouth Film Festival on October 3.

"I did three seasons of farces for Jack and Peter Jay at the Windmill on Yarmouth seafront back in the 1970s," said Jack.

"The first one, Don't Tell the Wife, was just after the end of my partnership with Des O'Connor.

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"It was sold out virtually every night, and I remember the excitement of walking out to the shops in the morning and seeing the queues to buy tickets. It made me feel a lucky man.

"I loved the area, and remember driving around different parts of Norfolk."

Jack, who is proud to have been in showbusiness for 60 years, said Alf did not always have the famous twitch.

It evolved one night when he was supposed to be on stage with comedian Joe Baker, but ended up facing a full house on his own.

"They closed the doors when the theatre was full and Joe was accidentally locked out," he recalled.

"I had 15 minutes to do without any help.

"The band leader, Eric Winstone, had a little twitch and I thought the rest of the band would find it funny if I mimicked it.

"In fact, I was amazed that the whole audience fell about laughing, and when I did it again I got a real belly laugh. From then on, Alf had his twitch."

The key part it has played in his success is reflected in the title of his autobiography: A Twitch In Time.

Jack warmly recalls his 20 years in Carry On films playing alongside such legends as Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor.

He said: "I started off playing Alf in Carry On Matron in 1972.

"That went down very well and from that I was offered seven more pictures, playing Alf in all but one of them.

"We all had a lot of fun on the Carry On films, and were able to ad lib which was very enjoyable.

"The cast was amazing. I was accepted from the word go. Within half an hour and a cup of coffee I was a member of the team."

When Jack appears at Yarmouth's Hollywood Cinema for the festival showing of Carry On Girls, he will not be surprised to see a large contingent of young film goers.

"Carry Ons are bigger than ever. It has become a real cult and I am getting more fan mail today than ever before," he said.

"We are re-launching Carry On Christmas at the moment and I have done all the links on the DVD."

He feels people are attracted to the Carry Ons because of the dearth of anything similar nowadays.

"They are saucy but you can sit down and watch them with your parents.

"On television these days all you see are hospitals, police and violence," he said.

"The comedy shows where you knew you would have a good laugh have gone, and a lot of the young comedians use four-letter words all the time.

"Our business has not changed for the better."

The second Yarmouth Film Festival runs from October 1 to 9 at five venues in the town. For details, including prices for various film packages, ring 01493 846345.

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