British Character Actors No. 6: Richard Wattis
Always in his trademark glasses, Richard Wattis often played officials – as indeed a small army of actors did in the postwar years. The difference was that, instead of playing them as frustrated and bumbling, he was drily cynical and sharp. He’s especially funny in ‘The Happiest Days Of Your Life’. During the 1950s Wattis starred in numerous Ealing comedies as well as the ‘St Trinian’ films of Launder and Gilliat, ‘Around The World in 80 Days’ and ‘The Prince & The Showgirl.’ He appeared in ‘Carry On’s,’ Norman Wisdom films, and starred in over 100 films in all. On television he became a comic foil for Tony Hancock, Dickie Henderson and Eric Sykes. He was gay and always struck me as a little melancholy – he rarely smiled on film, but you were always rather glad to see him turn up.