Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some things are simply not possible in an ordered universe, and Sally Geeson turning sixty is one of them


Sally Geeson is always Sally.
She is Sally, for instance, in Cry of the Banshee, a period dress horror film with Vincent Price, animated titles by Terry Gilliam, and a dog whose growling is obviously dubbed by a man.
She's Sally in What's Good For The Goose, in which she has an affair with Norman Wisdom and takes him to a nightclub where the waiters wear ties over bare chests.

She is Sally in Carry On Abroad, in which she pulls Bernard Bresslaw, playing a monk, and wears a bikini with 'This' and 'That' written on it.



Most of all she is Sally in Bless This House, the ITV sitcom in which she plays Sid James's daughter Sally. She later married the programme's producer, William G. 'Fifteen to One' Stewart. Her brother Mike was played by Robin Stewart. According to Robin Askwith's autobiography, he was perpetually late for rehearsals, and once attempted to excuse himself by claiming that his car had hit and killed a camel on the way to the studio.
I have a friend who knew an actress who took a small role in one episode. She said that Sid was delightful, but Diana Coupland, who plays his wife Jean, was a bit snooty.
The family's next-door neighbours are married couple Betty, played by Carry On stalwart Patsy Rowlands, and Trevor, played by Anthony Jackson (Mr Mumford in the first series of Rentaghost).

Sally remembered Sid as behaving very much like a father in real life. Askwith (who auditioned for the role of Mike, plays it in the film and appears in the series as one of Mike's friends) paints an evocative picture of working at Thames at this glorious, magical time. Imagine: Askwith and Sid swagger into the Thames studio bar, to meet Richard O'Sullivan, already there. "Awlright Richard!" says Sid. "You must be earning a bloody fortune, mate! You getting them in then?"

I love sitcom spin-off movies, and Bless This House (1973) is probably the best sitcom spin-off movie ever made. In the series Sally is your average squeaky teen with the average squeaky teen's interests. The film turns her into an ahead-of-her-time green extremist and proto-eco-Fascist climate change fanatic. There's a wonderful moment where she's in the garden in a bikini in what could well be November, reading a book with nothing on the cover except the fantastic title MANKIND IS DOOMED. She starts sniffing when their neighbour starts a garden fire and attempts to put it out with a hose, which Sid then tries to turn off in a slapstick sequence that requires the viewer to accept that he is both mentally and physically incompetent, has forgotten or never knew how to turn off a hose, and is incapable of pointing it in a different direction or getting it out from between two fence posts by lifting it up and out rather than pulling at it.
Later, she and some junior activists, chanting "No more non-disposable containers!" dump a ton of empty drinks cans outside the factory that makes them. The cans have all been specially made for the film and bear the logo of the fictitious drink they supposedly contain. It is called 'Fizzo'.
In a slapstick wallpapering sequence she steps in the paste with her big white boots on and starts screaming hysterically when Sid gets wallpaper on her head.

Anyway, if you are capable of believing it, the record claims that Sally turned sixty on the 23rd of June. She is apparently now a schoolteacher.


Vote for Sally!

Sally with a load of weird-looking old dolls and toys

The Geeson girls: Imagine growing up in the same street as them. You'd never get any homework done.