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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Comic capers in Carry on Commons

by Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Iain Duncan Smith with Danniella Westbrook
Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith met actress Danniella Westbrook
The first new Carry On movie for more than a decade has been launched - with a reception hosted by the Conservative Party in the House of Commons.

The workings of the House of Commons can appear a farce at the best of times, most MPs would admit - but the presence of the new Carry On cast brought a new kind of comedy to the corridors of power.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith was vying with former EastEnder and reformed cocaine addict Daniella Westbrook to be the centre of attention.

And in the strangest photo opportunity since William Hague wore a baseball cap, they agreed to pose together - much to the delight of the paparazzi gathered in the Members' Dining Room.

"Frankly, it seems a fairly bizarre location," Conservative candidate for Mayor of London Steven Norris said.

"But you get as much live theatre here as in most of the West End."

Actresses Chloe Bailey (left) and Princess Tamara Czartoryski-Borbon in the House of Commons
Two new Carry On actresses in the House of Commons
Carry On London has not even started filming yet but producers are already trying to drum up as much publicity as possible.

The first new Carry On film for more than a decade, an array of soap stars, wannabes and has-beens - headed by Westbrook - have already signed up.

Producers are billing it as "Carry On for the 21st Century" and "Carry On meets Austin Powers".

That, presumably, is the image the Conservatives were trying to buy into when they agreed to host this party.

They also saw it as a way to promote a great British institution, and to promote Britain as a great place to make a film.

Shadow culture secretary John Whittingdale revealed that, as a teenager, he had the image of a semi-naked Barbara Windsor being chased around a campsite seared onto his brain.

There are ladies here with the most dramatic cleavages I've ever seen in the House of Commons
Esther Rantzen
Now he can replace that with the image of Danniella Westbrook, ample cleavage pushed to the fore, being chased around the otherwise austere Commons function room.

She and the opposition leader refused to get too cosy during their photo opportunity, no matter how much the photographers asked.

But when he walked away, she did put her hands behind her head and push her chest out in her best page three pose while he was standing behind her, oblivious.

Westbrook is being promoted as the new Barbara Windsor, but the former EastEnder said Windsor was "an icon" and she was not trying to fill her shoes.

She had not even read her Carry On script yet, she said but, luckily for Mr Whittingdale, promised it would be "quite saucy".

Soap star Shaun Williamson with his new co-stars
Soap star Shaun Williamson with his new co-stars
But the film was still "family fun", she said, adding she was untroubled by any tacky image the movies had.

At the other end of the dining room, Esther Rantzen was hovering by the sandwiches and surveying the Carry On girls.

"There are ladies here with the most dramatic cleavages I've ever seen in the House of Commons," she said.

"There's something for everybody - legs for people who like legs, boobs for people who like boobs."

So what was the attraction for her? "Sandwiches, a nice cup of tea and the occasional eclair," she replied.

Other cast members there included Shaun Williamson, who plays Barry in EastEnders, King Carlos of Spain's first cousin Princess Tamara Bourbon and former Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley.

They could make Carry On Commons or Carry On Prime Minister
Iain Duncan Smith
Conservative leader
Hadley, who will have a cameo role, said he was hoping to appear in other mainstream British films - but arthouse projects got the lion's share of funding.

"A lot of British films aren't really worth the celluloid," he said.

People in the British film industry were "too keen to be trendy and cred", he said.

That was not an allegation that could be made to stick against Carry On creator Peter Rogers, 89, who showed the saucy humour was still alive.

"I made it - I didn't think I would when I was searched," he said, referring to the stringent security checks required before entering the building.

Carry On founder Peter Rogers with model Jo Lawden
Carry On founder Peter Rogers with model Jo Lawden
"A man said 'I don't know what that is in your pocket'. So I took it out and he was satisfied."

The latest film, for which he is executive producer, had been cast "two or three times" by the media, he said. "All girls - that's what I like."

The jokes were flowing, mainly about the possibility of making a Carry On film about MPs.

"They could make Carry On Commons or Carry On Prime Minister," Mr Duncan Smith said.

"In the case of the prime minister, I hope he doesn't carry on. But that's beside the point."


SEE ALSO:
Carry On charity marathon
20 Feb 03  |  England
The Sid and Babs carry on
22 Apr 00  |  Entertainment
The carry on behind the Carry On films
21 Sep 98  |  Entertainment


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