JULIAN CLARY FEATURE
assumption that it is a natural and exciting one. ‘I do think that what I do is quite positive,’ he says, ‘although I didn’t think about it in those terms from the outset. I suppose I’ve always done things for my own amusement first and foremost. And I think that’s all you can do. If other people find it entertaining and funny then fine.’ l That said, his fame and household name status have come as something of a surprise. I l
‘I’d always figured “cult status”,’ he says. ‘It’s quite hard to be aware of how well
‘Channel 4 executives are either extremely broad-minded ortoo dim to realise that E ‘sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend’ has any l hidden meaning.’
known I am. It doesn’t really affect me too much, and when it does it makes life quite interesting.‘ Somehow Clary has managed to avoid the vitriol usually levelled at high-profile homosexuals by being a ‘bit ofa laugh’. The tabloids presume he is taking the piss out of homosexuals, although it doesn’t take much to realise that straights and homophobes are the real butts of the joke.
This ‘cuddly factor’ seems to allow Clary to get away with some of the most dubious innuendoes ever put out over the airwaves, suggesting that Channel 4 executives are either extremely broad-minded or too dim to realise that ‘sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend’ has any hidden meaning. ‘Funnily enough, it’s not Channel 4 we have problems with,’ says Clary. ‘Lawyers occasionally say “You can’t do that.” It’s usually for surprising or unfathomable reasons. There’s a line in the show where Ijust come back to the ﬂat and say “I’ve just had a marvellous night out. I’ve been to this new club that’s opened called J ason’s, full of blonde boys wearing loincloths saying ‘I’m not gay. Do you want to sit on my lap?’ I’m worn out.” And the line they made me take out was “I’m not gay” which is the very line I included to make it OK. So now it doesn’t really make sense. But that’s the lawyers for you.
‘We do censor ourselves to a certain extent. In the third episode Terry’s girlfriend gets killed, you know, good comedy situation and all that. Terry says “since Renee died things have been different.” And I reply “I’ll say, at least the flat doesn’t smell of herrings anymore.” That got such a groaning response in the 5 dress rehearsal and I thought it was a bit strong anyway. I changed it to prawn cocktail. . .’
Ifthe twin qualities of campness and a fondness for double entendre incur a slight sense of déja vu, you aren’t alone. When the producers of the comeback Carry On film Carry On Columbus were casting around for replacements for all the old crew who had popped their clogs, Clary was an obvious choice. He agreed readily at the time, but looking back he’s beginning to have doubts about the wisdom of taking part.
‘I’ve got more qualms now than I had at the beginning. All the things I thought were slightly politically incorrect about the Carry Ons you can ignore when you watch them because they’re all at least fifteen years old. When I saw this one, it is a bit sexist unfortunately, and it’s no longer quaint
because it was made just a couple of months ago.’
With the same director and producer as the originals, Carry On Columbus was always going to be a retread of tried and once-again trendy formula, with the temptation being to
5 fit the new actors into preconceived parts. ‘I
play Diego the prison governor,’ says Clary. ‘It’s clearly the part Kenneth Williams would have played if he’d still been around. But I didn’t think about it that much, and I certainly didn’t try to do it the way he would. But I think that will be a problem. You certainly will miss the stars.’
You sense that Clary didn’t really relish being a supporting actor reciting lines written for him. Everything he’s done up till now has been something he has had control over, usually made by his own production company, Wonder Dog. ‘I don’t like doing things unless we write it and make it ourselves,’ he admits, ‘otherwise you have
I. K. 1,
the «cello! pulse at the urine is that wherever our Juli. gone he spread: a little genus and light on the drdi lives ol those he meets.
people trying to tell you what to do. Particularly with comedy it’s important to be in control. It’s hard enough as it is with all the directors and producers we employ who all have their own ideas. At least in the end
we have the the final say. It’s important that ' we delegate to people who understand the
The ‘original idea’ usually being a healthy degree oftackiness with liberal doses of smut. Clary has achieved plenty with these essentially cheap ingredients and sees little need to change the formula. “That’s light entertainment,’ he says, like an effete Bruce Forsyth. ‘That’s what I chose to do. I see it as providing a service. We need that sort of escapism.’ Carry on camping.
Terry And Julian starts on Channel 4 on Friday 11 September at 10.30pm.
Carry On Columbus is on wide release from 2 October.
The List 11— 24 September 1992 7