"All the way from Great Portland Street"... It's the Kenneth Williams thread!

Mel O'Drama

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For no particular reason...


 

Barbara Fan

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ah thank you, oh he died too young and had a few more stories and tales up his sleeve




 

Mel O'Drama

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What uncanny timing, BF. Only yesterday I pulled Kenneth's Diaries and Letters books off the bookshelf and read some in the garden.



He was very fond of Ingrid, I think. Here's what he wrote about their first meeting:

Kenneth Williams said:
Wednesday, 21 October 1970
To Lord North St and I met Binkie, who introduced me to Ingrid Bergman. She was charming and lovely. Joss Ackland was there, who will play Brassbound and was v. nice... Everyone agreed that they liked each other and Binkie cried 'Are you with us?' And I said 'Yes'... Ingrid told an incredible story about Lewis Milestone & Joan Crawford, the [former] picking out a v. handsome extra and saying 'Miss Crawford, here is your flatterer. This man will be engaged to tell you how wonderful you are in every scene we shoot...'


He was quite critical of Ingrid early on, as he was with many of his colleagues:

Kenneth Williams said:
Friday, 22 January 1971
Run-through of the play. Ingrid stumbled through it. She hasn't taken hold of a scene once. Not on one single occasion has she made a sentence exciting. It's a lady with a foreign accent who doesn't know the script very well.

Kenneth Williams said:
Thursday, 28 January 1971
I tackled Banbury personally. It was awful. One suddenly realised he didn't know what to do about Bergman! He said apropos her not knowing the lines 'If I start being severe with her, she may lose her confidence and then where should we be?'



But as the show went on, there was more and more praise for her:


Kenneth Williams said:
Thursday, 18 February 1971
Binkie on the telephone. Would I please attend rehearsal today to keep Ingrid in the theatre! She's been sick all night - it is probably nerves, they all think. Got to the theatre to find the room full of presents and - most prized of all, a note from Ingrid: 'Be my next director - feed out of your hand, I would...' Th show went through competently and at the end there were nine curtains and Ingrid had to take 3 solo calls. The house obviously adored her, and rightly so.


Kenneth Williams said:
Wednesday, 24 February 1971
Ingrid is still doing some lines well and some lines badly... it is because the lack of stage technique makes her unable to sustain moments, or comedy effects... Nevertheless I adore this woman and will forgive everything from someone who has her sweetness, radiance and generosity of spirit and who packs the theatre as she does. It is really marvellous to play such houses.

Kenneth Williams said:
Friday, 11 June 1971
Had to go to Ingrid for an autograph for Perihan and she sweetly wrote 'From her uncle's leading lady...' I should think Bergman is the best person I've ever met who is an International Star. I said to her in the wings 'You are being splendid tonight' & she said 'Yes, I'm in good voice, too.' I said 'Yes, but the entrance was superb! So grand, so composed... utterly serene' and she replied 'Well you know about actors - you can't just switch it on - some nights it all just goes right...' It is true.


Kenneth Williams said:
Tuesday 15 June 1971
Called on Domenic at the Garden to arrange the dinner tonight for Ingrid & Gordon [Jackson] & Louie [KW's Mum] & me, at the Grange, in the far room. Gordon was absolutely marvellous because he knew about all her films, right from Intermezzo. I said to her on the way out 'You are the best person I have worked with ever...' and she replied 'Oh! my dear, there will be others... many others...'


Kenneth Williams said:
Saturday, 31 July 1971
The second house was packed and v. enthusiastic. Ingrid came into the wings and was very affectionate, put her arms around me, and said 'So, at last my dear! To think I stood here and wished you luck half a year ago.' It appeared in the papers tonight that she has broken all records for a limited season in London by taking £250,000 in 6 months.
 

Barbara Fan

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Only yesterday I pulled Kenneth's Diaries and Letters books off the bookshelf and read some in the garden.

Snap, so did i! :hug: I think he was very fond of her, i recall one entry where he went round to her flat and was astounded to see a "Hollywood Star" cleaning her own windows

and in another he said he never met a nicer person.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Snap, so did i! :hug:
Oh. Great minds think alike, BF.



I think he was very fond of her, i recall one entry where he went round to her flat and was astounded to see a "Hollywood Star" cleaning her own windows

and in another he said he never met a nicer person.

It would have been quite something to be a fly on the wall with these two chatting.
 

Mel O'Drama

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rewatched this

RIP Kenneth - still funny 30 plus years later
Oh, it's perfection, isn't it?

May I say what an honour it is for you to have me here tonight.
I have the DVD and the audiobook of An Audience With KW and I could play them all day long. This and Victoria Wood are my two favourite Audience With editions.
 

Mel O'Drama

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still funny 30 plus years later
Can you believe this week was 32 years since his death?! I can still remember hearing it on the news over the radio in my Dad's car and being very shocked.
 

Barbara Fan

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yes i was pretty shocked too and thought that Kenneth had quite a few more stories to tell and books to write.

My Dad got more Round the Horne for Christmas, will need to see if hes finished listening to it!! lol
 

Mel O'Drama

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i was pretty shocked too and thought that Kenneth had quite a few more stories to tell and books to write.
He certainly did. So many of his peers died far too young as well.

Every now and then I wonder how his career would have looked had he lived longer. More books, as you said. And lots more chat show appearances. Perhaps he'd have had the chance to do a couple more serious role on stage or screen. I mean, in the late Eighties it would be hard to imagine Barbara Windsor as the matriarch in a soap. Until it happened.


My Dad got more Round the Horne for Christmas, will need to see if hes finished listening to it!!
Oh, wonderful stuff. I can imagine the two of you exchanging quotes from the show. :D
 

Barbara Fan

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Oh, wonderful stuff. I can imagine the two of you exchanging quotes from the show. :D
Oh it has been known, Fantabulosa, I wanna wear tights, ere, have a feel of my calves, should have brought my tap shoes, Bona!!

Good at Fawlty Towers too!
 

Mel O'Drama

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Oh it has been known, Fantabulosa, I wanna wear tights, ere, have a feel of my calves, should have brought my tap shoes, Bona!!

Good at Fawlty Towers too!
It's great that these comedies are living on in this way. Anything that can be enjoyed by different generations is a good thing.
 

Mel O'Drama

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This made me laugh far harder than I probably should have:

 
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