Kenneth Connor

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For the engineer, see Kenneth Connor (engineer).
Kenneth Connor
Publicity photo of Connor from 1959
Born (1918-06-06)6 June 1918
Islington, London, England
Died 28 November 1993(1993-11-28) (aged 75)
South Harrow, London, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1920–93
Known for Carry On films
'Allo 'Allo!  (TV series)
Spouse(s) Margaret (?–1993) (his death)
Children Jeremy Connor

Kenneth Connor, MBE (6 June 1918[1][2] – 28 November 1993) was an English comedy stage, radio, film and TV actor, best known for his appearances in the Carry On films.


Born in Islington, London, the son of a naval petty officer who organised concert parties,[1] Connor first appeared on the stage at the age of two as an organ-grinder's monkey in one of his father's shows, in Portsmouth. By 11 years old, he had his own act. He attended the Central School of Speech and Drama, where he was a Gold Medal winner. Connor made his professional debut in J. M. Barrie's The Boy David, at His Majesty's Theatre, London in December 1936.

During World War II he served as an infantry gunner with the Middlesex Regiment but continued acting by touring Italy and the Middle East with the Stars in Battledress concert party and ENSA. While waiting to be demobbed in Cairo, Connor received a telegram from William Devlin asking him to join the newly formed Bristol Old Vic, where he gained a solid grounding in the classics.

He moved on to the London Old Vic Company for a 1947–48 season at the New Theatre. His most notable performances there were as Chaplain de Stogumber in Saint Joan and Dobchinsky in The Government Inspector, which starred Alec Guinness. Realising he was not a "tall, impressive juvenile lead or a young lover type," he decided to specialise in comedy.

He took over from Peter Sellers in Ted Ray's radio show Ray's a Laugh – launched by the BBC in 1949 as a successor to Tommy Handley's ITMA. He played the brother-in-law and other oddball characters such as Sidney Mincing. Ray took Connor with him to his TV shows, and the pair would star together in the third Carry On film, Carry On Teacher.

On occasion he appeared in The Goon Show, standing in for regular cast members struck down by illness. He also appeared in the anarchic, Goon-style TV series Idiot Weekly, Price 2d (1956) and A Show Called Fred (1956).

In 1955, Connor gained a small role in the film The Ladykillers (1955) as a taxi driver. In 1958, he was cast in the first Carry On film, Carry On Sergeant, and became one of the regular cast in the series, appearing in seventeen of the original thirty films and many of the associated television productions. Alongside Kenneth Williams and Eric Barker, Connor was one of only three actors to appear in both the first and last of the original sequence of Carry On films (Carry On Sergeant and Carry On Emmannuelle).

In his earlier Carry On appearances, Connor frequently played the romantic lead or other sympathetic roles (typically with an element of comically neurotic anxiety), while later appearances saw him play less sympathetic characters such as married men with wandering eyes and lascivious remarks. In Carry On Nurse (1959), his real-life son Jeremy[3] appeared as his character Bernie Bishop's son. In 1961, he starred with fellow Carry On stars Sid James and Esma Cannon in the comedy film What a Carve Up!. In fact, in the 1959 – 1961 period, he was one of the most prominent leading men in British comedy films. As well as What a Carve Up! and the Carry On films, other films he starred in during this period included Watch Your Stern (1960), Nearly a Nasty Accident! (1961) and the Dentist films. In 1960, he appeared as various characters in the Four Feather Falls puppet series.

Connor had a good tenor voice, which he occasionally used to good effect, such as in the 1962 movie Carry On Cruising.

In contrast with some of his Carry On co-stars, Connor found further success on the London stage. He starred in the revue One Over the Eight (1962), at the Duke of York's Theatre, the original London West End production with Frankie Howerd of the Stephen Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963), as Hysterium – and directed the show when it went on tour – The Four Musketeers (1967), with Harry Secombe at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, playing King Louis XIII, and the revue Carry On London (1973) at the Victoria Palace.

Between 1971 and 1973, Connor joined Dad's Army stars Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender on the BBC radio comedy Parsley Sidings. On television he appeared in The Black and White Minstrel Show, as Whatsisname Smith in the children's show Rentaghost (1983–84), and as Monsieur Alfonse in 'Allo 'Allo! (1984–1992) and Uncle Sammy Morris in Hi-de-Hi! (1986–88). He also made guest appearances in sitcoms including That's My Boy and You Rang, M'Lord? and he made a memorable cameo in an episode of Blackadder the Third in 1987, alongside fellow veteran comic star Hugh Paddick.

He was honoured by the Queen with appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1991. He was still working just two days before his death, with an appearance on Noel Edmond's Telly Addicts. His final TV appearance, as Mr Warren in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes episode The Adventure of the Red Circle, was broadcast posthumously in 1994.

Connor died of cancer at his home in Harrow, London in 1993,[4] and was survived by his wife Margaret (Miki), his son and three grandchildren, Thomas, Hayley and Rose, all of whom have been child actors.

Television roles[edit]

Year Title Role
1970 to 1971 On the House Gussie Sissons
1958 to 1978 Carry On films Various
1983 to 1984 Rentaghost Whatsisname Smith
1984 to 1992 'Allo 'Allo! Monsieur Alfonse
1986 to 1988 Hi-de-Hi! Uncle Sammy Morris
1987 Blackadder the Third Enoch Mossop
1994 Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Mr. Warren

Selected filmography[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
Poison Pen 1939 Telephonist
The Passionate Pilgrim 1949 Murphy
Over The Odds 1950 Sydney
Don't Say Die 1950 Pat O'Neill
Rush Job 1951 Percy Prangle
Miss Robin Hood 1952 Board Member Uncredited
There Was a Young Lady 1953 Tom Bass
The Black Rider 1954 George Amble
Marilyn 1955 Customer
The Ladykillers 1955 Taxi Driver Uncredited
Davy 1957 Herbie
Carry On Sergeant 1958 Horace Strong
Make Mine a Million 1959 Anxious Husband
Carry On Nurse 1959 Bernie Bishop
Carry On Teacher 1959 Gregory Adams
Carry On Constable 1960 Constable Charlie Constable
Dentist in the Chair 1960 Sam Field
Watch Your Stern 1960 Ordinary Seaman Blissworth
His and Hers 1961 Harold
Carry On Regardless 1961 Sam Twist
A Weekend with Lulu 1961 British Tourist
Nearly a Nasty Accident 1961 AC 2 Alexander Wood
Dentist on the Job 1961 Sam Field
What a Carve Up! 1961 Ernest Broughton
Carry On Cruising 1962 Dr. Arthur Binn
Carry On Cabby 1963 Ted Watson
Carry On Cleo 1964 Hengist Pod
How to Undress in Public Without Undue Embarrassment 1965
Gonks Go Beat 1965 Wilco Roger
Cuckoo Patrol 1967 Wick
Danny the Dragon 1967 Danny the Dragon Voice
Captain Nemo and the Underwater City 1969 Swallow Bath
Rhubarb 1969 Mr Rhubarb
Carry On Up the Jungle 1970 Claude Chumley
Carry On Henry 1971 Lord Hampton Wick
Carry On Matron 1972 Mr Tidy
Carry On Abroad 1972 Stanley Blunt
Carry On Girls 1973 Mayor Frederick Bumble
Carry On Dick 1974 The Constable
Carry On Behind 1975 Major Leep, the Camp Site manager
Carry On England 1976 Captain S. Melly
Carry On Emmannuelle 1978 Leyland


  1. ^ a b "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  2. ^ BFI biodata
  3. ^ Jeremy Connor at IMDb
  4. ^ Fade to Black 4th Ed – Paul Donnelley, Omnibus Press, 2010

External links[edit]