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Kenneth Williams - the Actor

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Kenneth Williams was a comic actor on stage, radio, television and film, but a very private person who apparently loved his mother, Louie, despised his homophobic father, Charlie, and yearned for someone to hold him in their arms and love him.

His best known roles were in the 22 Carry On1 films in which his comedy voices delivered the toilet humour lines to great effect. However, his diaries revealed how he hated the level to which he had sunk with these roles, and that he yearned to take on good comedy roles on the West End stage again.

His comedy on radio gave his vocal range a whole medium in which to shine. He basically had four character voices, including his own. The others were 'Snide', who was a grinning cheeky chap, an upper crust 'aristo', and a cockney based on his father. His great radio shows include Round the Horne and Beyond our Ken2, Hancock’s Half Hour3 and Just a Minute. The last of these is the ad-lib panel game of which Williams is remembered as being part of the classic quartet.

Around the Horne and Beyond our Ken broke some ground. Homosexuality was still illegal in the UK at the time these shows were first broadcast, yet Williams paired up and created the character of Sandy, who, along with Julian, made double entendres of a homosexual nature that were the running joke in suburbia.

Williams lived his life constantly ashamed and guilty about his homosexuality yet his comedy personae were often so camp that it appeared he found escape in making comedy from his sexuality. He lived alone, only becoming involved in brief encounters.

1Kenneth Williams appeared more times than any other actor in this series of typically British comedies which focussed on smutty jokes and cheap laughs.2Both these shows were based on the activities of Kenneth Horne, a British comedian.3Which transferred to television.

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