Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ding dong! Leslie Phillips turns 90

In which G.M. Norton pays homage to on-screen lothario, Mr Leslie Phillips.


Growing up, I’ve always been a fan of Leslie Phillips so upon learning that he was going to turn 90 tomorrow, I couldn’t possibly not mark it in some way.
Leslie has just spotted a nice little filly
With blue eyes, pencil moustache, roguish charm and that unmistakeable voice, Phillips lit up the screen. With a career spanning more than 70 years, it is his roles in the Carry On and Doctor films that cemented his place in the pantheon of English comic icons.

Famous for playing the archetypal cad, it is his catchphrases that became his calling card. One has to go back to Carry on Nurse in 1959 to hear Phillips first utter the famous words, ‘Ding dong’. 
A young lady tried hiding in a safe but that doesn't deter Leslie
Coming round from unconsciousness, Phillips groggily gazes up at the lovely face of Shirley Eaton (later to achieve iconic status herself in Goldfinger) and the following dialogue ensues:

Phillips: I say. “What’s your name, nurse?”
Eaton: “Why, Nurse Bell, sir.”
Phillips: “Ding dong. Carry on…”
In one of his more serious poses
Not content with one defining catchphrase, the following year Phillips starred in Doctor in Love, uttering the equally memorable “Well, hell-lo” whenever meeting a comely young lady.

The saucy postcard humour of such films defined the era and in later years when the films were repeated on the Idiot's Lantern, it defined my childhood too.
That's more like it!
In later years, Phillips carved out an impressive career as a serious actor, but I for one will always think of him as the upper-class lothario, with a twinkle in his eye and an exquisite creature on his arm.

Many happy returns, Sir! 

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of Norton of Morton

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