British Character Actors No.5: Hattie Jacques
She always played the same role (particularly in her 13 Carry On films) but you sort of cheered up when she came into a scene. The larger-than-life of Ms Jacques had a prim matronly image concealed a raucous, boozy and surprisingly hedonistic Earl’s Court lifestyle. A double divorce from John Le Mesurier (arranged simultaneously so that both partners could marry others) was reordered to paint Jacques as the victim, the better to preserve her ‘much-loved’ public status.
Despite being repeatedly described by friends as naturally sexy, she suffered from a lack of confidence about her appearance, and although she was a strong trade union supporter and charity organizer with a complex career, Fleet Street could only make endless puns on her size, once describing her as ‘a lovable lump of London’.