Carry On legend Jim Dale has opened up about the behind-the-scenes tensions with the cast of the classic British comedy series, exposing a close clique that resented him for his theatre work—in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dale, who played roles in nine ‘Carry On’ films, starting with ‘Carry On Cabby’ in 1963, lifted the lid on the dynamics that existed within the iconic ensemble.
“I knew I was entering a clique,” Dale confessed. “When we sat around talking, that’s when you relaxed with them. We would rehearse in each other’s dressing room quite a bit, so that’s where we got intimate. But I wasn’t deep friends with any of them because I had to go home to see the kids rather than go out on the booze.”
Despite the camaraderie on set, Dale revealed that he wasn’t spared from the intrigue that characterised the relationships among the ‘Carry On’ stars. He shared, “Kenneth Williams was probably one of my better friends, although he was a real sod at times. He’d say, ‘Peter Butterworth hates your guts, you know that, don’t you?’ So for days I didn’t talk to Peter Butterworth and he didn’t talk to me, and then one day I said, ‘Pete, did Kenneth Williams say anything to you?’ ‘Yes, he told me you hate my guts.’ The bastard! You accept that as part of Ken.”
Reflecting on the departure that marked the end of his ‘Carry On’ journey in 1970 to work with Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic, Dale disclosed, “I’ve heard rumours that the ‘Carry On’ films weren’t good enough for Jim. The truth was that you can’t work at the National Theatre and expect to have Wednesday matinees off to do the film. The theatre has always been my one love. Not a hard decision.”
Jim Dale Preferred The Theatre To Appearing Alongside Carry On Stars
Taking a stroll down memory lane, Jim Dale’s career started with small roles in ‘Carry On Cabby’ and ‘Carry On Jack.’ Gradually, his roles gained prominence, leading to memorable performances in films like ‘Carry On Screaming!’ and ‘Carry On Cowboy.’ His career reached new heights when he starred as Harold, the policeman, in the 1965 comedy film ‘The Big Job’ alongside ‘Carry On’ regulars Sidney James and Joan Sims.
Dale’s versatility shone through in 1973 when he portrayed Spike Milligan in ‘Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall,’ earning a BAFTA nomination for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles. But it was his departure from the ‘Carry On’ series that allegedly led to the absence of the ensemble during his ‘This Is Your Life’ episode in 1973.
Theatre has always held a special place in Dale’s heart, and he boldly chose to pursue it over the film industry. His journey from a local shoe factory worker to a pop star in the Fifties and later a prominent figure in television sketch comedy showcased his unwavering passion for the craft. In 2015, Dale starred in his own musical, ‘Just Jim Dale,’ a one-man show that provided a nostalgic glimpse into his nearly sixty years in show business.