With a career spanning nearly sixty years and having worked with some of the biggest names in British comedy history, Liz Fraser still remains, remarkably, a most underrated comedy actress. Despite being instantly recognisable whenever she appears on screen, her name is rarely mentioned when talk turns to the great female comedy stars of the last fifty years. With her autobiography Liz Fraser...and Other Characters now available, that situation will hopefully change.
Perfect Comedic Foil
Born Elizabeth Winch in 1930, London girl Liz made her debut in the 1955 comedy film Touch and Go starring Jack Hawkins. Her blonde hair, pretty looks and slinky figure made her a perfect comedic foil for some of the great comedy talents of the day and she soon found herself playing a number of different roles in Hancock's Half Hour on television. These parts were normally just variants of a particular type - that of the brassy blonde with a big mouth - but Liz Fraser brought a warmth to them that made the characters likeable. After the notoriously fickle Tony Hancock began to systematically dismantle the component parts of his success - even Sid James and writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson weren't immune - Liz found herself with a major role in Galton and Simpson's new television project for Sid, Citizen James. Despite a seventeen year age gap between the two in real life, Liz played the part of Sid's long-suffering girlfriend (also called Liz), forever putting up with his nefarious schemes and bailing him out of trouble with the police. The two stars sparked off each other nicely and it was a real shame when, after Galton and Simpson dropped out after one series, Liz was written out.
Perhaps it is the fact that Liz Fraser has never had a long-running role in a television series which has stopped her getting the recognition she truly deserves. June Whitfield, a character actress of similar longevity to Liz, is now revered as a national institution but she did spend many years as co-star to Terry Scott in Happy Ever After and Terry and June.
Carry On Liz
Despite roles in such comedy classics as I'm Alright Jack, Two Way Stretch and Double Bunk, Liz Fraser is undoubtedly best remembered for her appearances in the Carry On series. Making her debut in Carry On Regardless in 1961, Liz was perhaps the prototype for the dizzy blonde character portrayed later by Barbara Windsor, although Fraser was always much more subtle. Her next series appearance came in colour in the final Carry On to be scripted by Norman Hudis, Carry On Cruising. As with Regardless, Liz Fraser's role in Cruising was mainly straight, playing foil to Dilys Laye. In 1963, Liz played the role of Kenneth Connor's girlfriend Sally in Carry On Cabby. Unfortunately, due to an innocent remark made by Liz being taken the wrong way by producer Peter Rogers, Liz was then dropped from the Carry On series and would not appear in the franchise again until Carry On Behind in 1975.
Liz Fraser is much more than just your average dizzy screen blonde and you can now read about her entire career in her autobiography Liz Fraser...and Other Characters.