TV Cream

Hall of Fame

HARTNELL, William

hartnellWe know what you’re thinking, so let’s get it out of the way – yes, Billy H will forever be associated by the majority with his early role as a man who devours an ‘unstable chemical compound’ in Harry Cohen comedy short I Am An Explosive. In fact, short comedies like this, Swinging the Lead and Say It With Music were Billy’s inroad into cinema from his stage background as a respected farceur. (We’re not being tediously faux-chummy here – he was, for most of this period, billed as Billy Hartnell.) The war, inevitably, brought more serious, indeed military, parts, and the freshly-Williamised William found himself taking the rank of Sergeant as often as not, in particular moulding an unpromising battalion (including John Laurie and Stanley Holloway) into army shape in the Way Ahead. And of course he would do it all again for laughs 14 years later in Carry On Sergeant. Oh, and he was in some children’s programme with Peter Butterworth and all.

FINEST HOUR:
In a film brimming with ace turns, Hartnell stands out as the venal and corrupt manager of Hawlett’s Transport in Hell Drivers.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Graham Ellis

    December 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Not to mention the greatest of all Dr Who,s ? possibly ?

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