Fenella Fielding’s challenging life and bad run-ins with Kenneth Williams and Norman Wisdom

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

In 2017, revelations surfaced about the challenges Fenella Fielding faced in her career, particularly concerning her interactions with comedic icons Kenneth Williams and Norman Wisdom. These incidents shed light on the darker side of show business that Fielding navigated throughout her life. In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, the actress revealed many details of her life.

Fielding’s career began in 1927 in London, where she faced a tough upbringing marked by her father’s violence. Despite familial turmoil, her passion for acting blossomed early. However, setbacks loomed large, leading her to attempt suicide at 27. Recalling the harrowing experience, Fielding remarked, “Daddy used to knock me about with his fists, and my mother would egg him on. I wanted to be dead, but as that didn’t seem to be happening, I thought I’d better reverse it if that’s possible.”

As her career gained momentum, Fielding found herself thrust into the world of the Carry On films. She revealed that working alongside Kenneth Williams proved challenging. Fielding recounts her tense rapport with Williams during their collaboration in the comedy revue “Pieces of Eight.” She vividly remembers Williams’s resentment towards her burgeoning popularity.

Fielding explains run-ins with two of Britain’s most iconic comedy actors

Fielding lamented, “Kenneth came out of the wings and he had the paper in his hand and he had the most terrible temper about it. I thought, God! I can’t help the fact they’ve said something nice about me.” Is this envy common in showbusiness? “Well, I’ve never had somebody so open about it! I couldn’t believe my ears.” Such dynamics were not uncommon, as Fielding noted, “The more famous comedians don’t want you to be funny.”

Fanella openly spoke about the misogyny that existed on set back in the 60s and 70s.
The actress branded Kenneth Williams “Jealous”.

Similarly, encounters with Norman Wisdom left a bitter taste. Fielding described Wisdom as “not a very pleasant man,” highlighting his inappropriate advances on set. She expanded, “Not a very pleasant man. Always making a pass – hand up your skirt first thing in the morning. Not exactly a lovely way to start a day’s filming.” These encounters resonate with contemporary workplace harassment conversations, underscoring the systemic issues prevalent in the entertainment industry.

Despite the challenges, Fenella Fielding’s talent shone through. She carved a niche in both serious and comedic roles, earning accolades for her performances. However, the transition to serious acting proved arduous, with Fielding lamenting the lack of opportunities to showcase her range.

Amidst professional success, Fielding cherished her personal life. Contrary to speculations, she led a fulfilling romantic life, simultaneously embracing unconventional relationships with two lovers. Fielding reflected on her choices, saying, “It makes for a much happier life.”

Norman Wisdom was also the subject of accusations from Fielding.

In the late 1970s, Fielding faced a downturn in her career, grappling with financial woes and a fading spotlight. Despite the setbacks, she staged a remarkable comeback, reclaiming her status as a beloved performer.

Tragically, Fielding passed away in 2018 at the age of 90 due to a stroke. Her contributions to drama and charity were honoured with an OBE, underscoring her influential impact on British culture.

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