Jack Douglas: Actor and comedian who made his name in the 'Carry On' films
Friday 19 December 2008
A permanent fixture in the final eight Carry On comedy films, Jack Douglas is best remembered for the twitching character he usually portrayed, complete with flat cap, spectacles and workman's overalls, and the one-word catchphrase: "Phwaay!"
The character, known as Alf Ippititimus, was created on stage two decades earlier and became a staple of his act. Douglas first transferred the character to the screen for a single scene in Carry On Matron (1972). Acting the part of the father of a new-born baby, he arrived in the waiting room of a maternity ward displaying the nervy, fidgeting mannerisms and facial expressions that would become familiar to fans of the series that made stars of actors such as Kenneth Williams, Sid James and Barbara Windsor.
It was a cameo role that had been written specifically for Douglas, to test his suitability for the series. He returned, looking exactly the same, for Carry On Abroad (1972), and he continued until the films fizzled out with Carry On Emmannuelle (1978), in which he went out of character to play a snooty butler. Later, he was one of the few from the original team who appeared in the abortive revival, Carry On Columbus (1992). "My favourite was Carry On Girls," he said. "The films might have been naughty, but they weren't filthy. It was seaside-postcard humour and could be watched by the whole family."
Hiding behind his screen persona meant that Douglas was able to go out in public without being bothered, despite his fame. "Because I played Alf – a character I'd developed at Butlins some years before – in seven of the eight Carry On films I worked on, people don't recognise me in the street," he said in 2006. "But I'm receiving plenty of fan letters, more now than I've ever had in my life."
Jack Douglas was born Jack Roberton in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1927, the son of a theatre producer. Although he showed no early interest in acting, he was bitten by the stage bug and ran away from home at the age of 11 to become a lime-boy, operating the spotlights at Feldman's Theatre, Blackpool.
Four years later, his father gave him the chance to direct a pantomime himself, at the Sunderland Empire. His break as a performer came while he was directing Dick Whittington (1948-49) at the Kingston Empire in Surrey. He was persuaded to step in after the comedian Joe Baker's straight man was taken ill. As a result, the pair formed a double-act and, in addition to their stage appearances across Britain and in Australia, they were seen regularly during the first year of the children's television programme Crackerjack (1955-56). When Baker left for the United States, Douglas worked as a foil to other comedians, including Bruce Forsyth, Arthur Askey and Des O'Connor.
He made his film début in the RAF comedy Nearly a Nasty Accident, starring Jimmy Edwards, in 1961. As well as appearing with the Carry On team in their forays into television, Carry On Christmas (1972) and Carry On Laughing (1975), Douglas performed on the small screen in many entertainment programmes. He was in The Bruce Forsyth Show (1965, 1969) and became a regular on both The Des O'Connor Show (1970-71) and the quick-fire comedy series Jokers Wild (1973-74).
Douglas's sitcom roles included Stanley Pickersgill, who pulled pints at the Brown Cow pub alongside his cousin Nellie Pickersgill (Hylda Baker), in the final series of Not on Your Nellie (1975) and the chief superintendent in The Boys in Blue (1983), which starred the comedy duo Cannon and Ball as policemen.
He switched to a straight acting role as Jake, the dour village widower, in the pilot of the comedy drama The Shillingbury Blowers (1980), the subsequent series, Shillingbury Tales (1981) and its spin-off, Cuffy (1983), which put Bernard Cribbins's village tinker character in the spotlight.
Both of Douglas's marriages ended in divorce. He leaves his partner, Vivien Howell, an actress with whom he regularly appeared in pantomime, as well as a son and daughter from his first marriage.
Jack Roberton (Jack Douglas), actor: born Newcastle upon Tyne 26 April 1927; twice married (one son, one daughter); died Newport, Isle of Wight 18 December 2008.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
French café starts charging extra to rude customers
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 3 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...