The Unforgettable Joan Sims (2002)

TV Special   |    |  Documentary


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12 May 2017 | Goingbegging
| Other kind of Essex Girl
She was the Plain Jane of the Carry-Ons - not so much unattractive as just plonk ordinary and predictable. No hint of subtlety or mystery. But no temperamental prima-donna stuff either. All her colleagues confirmed that she was easy to work with, a life-enhancing character, a delight to know. Which makes it all the more puzzling that she should have ended her days as a lonely alcoholic.

An Essex background may not always mean one thing. She admitted to being naive about men and was never a skillful seductress. Her parents were fanatical in their disapproval of relationships outside marriage - so much so that her only live-in boyfriend was made to pack his clothes and hide, every time they came to visit. When they eventually found out, they wouldn't speak to her for months. Meanwhile her mother had brought her up to believe that sex was nothing to get excited about anyway.

This might explain why she never had a husband or family of her own, though in her memoirs she just says "The right man never came along", a rubber-stamp explanation that I tend to find unconvincing. (But we can almost hear her scornful rejection of Kenneth Williams' ludicrous marriage proposal.) Her friend Elizabeth Spriggs claimed that she was too dedicated to her work to make room for domestic life. "The footlights were her fireside." Certainly when the work dried-up and then a whole lot of her friends died at much the same time, she found that her support system had been knocked away, and then the drink just seemed to beckon.

This 25-minute profile would have benefited from some co-ordination of the various fragments of personal reminiscence. The interviewees do not address the screen. They all seem to be answering questions from an unseen person, somewhere off to the left (and we don't even know whether it's the same person), so their statements go unchallenged. This is lazy editing, and I think Joan deserved better.


Release Date:

21 May 2002



Country of Origin


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