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Bernard Bresslaw

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2.01 m

Bernard Bresslaw

Years active

Bernard Bresslaw with a shocked face, wearing a gray flat cap, red coat over white long sleeves, and red necktie.

Full Name
Bernard Bresslaw

25 February 1934 (

Betty Wright (m. 1959–1993, his death, 3 sons)

James BresslawMark BresslawJonathan Bresslaw

Most Promising Newcomer Variety Club of Great Britain

Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Peter Butterworth, Sid James, Kenneth Connor

11 June 1993 (aged 59) Regent's Park, London, England

Wogan bernard bresslaw kenneth connor kenneth williams barbara windsor carry ons

Bernard Bresslaw (25 February 1934 – 11 June 1993) was an English comic actor, best remembered as a member of the Carry On team.


Bernard Bresslaw with a funny face, wearing a black flat cap with a badge, a gray coat over gray long sleeves, and a gray necktie.

Carry On Nursing interview - Bernard Bresslaw, Jack Douglas, Gerald Thomas


Bernard Bresslaw is smiling while swinging her arms with a girl on his side with an autograph on the lower-left corner. Bernard is wearing a black coat over white long sleeves, a black necktie, black pants, and black shoes while the girl is wearing a silk jacket, striped pants, and black shoes.

Bernard Bresslaw was born the youngest of three boys into a Jewish family in Stepney, London, on 25 February 1934. He attended the Coopers' Company's School in Tredegar Square, Bow, London E3. His father was a tailor's cutter and he became interested in acting after visits to the Hackney Empire. London County Council awarded him a scholarship to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he won the Emile Littler Award as the most promising actor. After Educating Archie on radio and The Army Game on television, more television, film and Shakespearean theatre roles followed, until he was cast in Carry On Cowboy in 1965. Although officially starring in 14 Carry On films, Bresslaw did appear in one other: Carry On Nurse. The legs of Terence Longdon were deemed to be too thin and scrawny looking, so Bresslaw's were used as stand-ins for the scene where Joan Sims gives him a bath.

Bresslaw's catchphrase, in his strong Cockney accent, was "I only arsked" (sic), first used in The Army Game, and later revived in Carry On Camping (1969). In his fleeting appearance as an angry lorry driver in the 1970 film Spring and Port Wine, his character was dubbed.

A poster with "I Only Arsked" on it featuring Bernard Bresslaw with a funny face while looking above, wearing a gray coat over white long sleeves, and a black necktie

At 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), he was the tallest of the Carry On cast, head and shoulders over fellow Carry On regular Barbara Windsor, who is 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m). Because of his height he was briefly considered for the part of the Creature in Hammer's Curse of Frankenstein (1957), which ultimately went instead to 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Christopher Lee. Bresslaw later made a comedy version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Hammer titled The Ugly Duckling (1959). He made great efforts to prepare for roles, for example learning genuine Fanakalo phrases for Carry On Up the Jungle (1970).

He featured as Varga, the lead villain in the 1967 Doctor Who story The Ice Warriors. Even though all the actors playing the aliens were over six feet tall, Bresslaw towered over them. Sonny Caldinez, who played an Ice Warrior in the story, stated in a 2004 interview that Bresslaw "was the only man that could make me feel small."

Television series

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood The Black Patch as Sir Dunstan's Captain
  • The Army Game
  • Our House (1961–1962) 22 episodes William Singer
  • Carry On Christmas Specials and Carry On Laughing
  • Danger Man: The Outcast, as Leo (1964)
  • Doctor Who serial The Ice Warriors (1967) as Varga, an Ice Warrior
  • The Goodies Series 2 (1 Oct. 1971) episode Scotland as the zookeeper.
  • The Book Tower (1987)
  • Terry and June (16 Nov. 1982) Series 5 Episode 5 (Playing pool) Morris
  • Sykes (7 Nov. 1974) Series 3 Episode 4 (The Band) Johnny Brunswick
  • Doctor in the House (13 Sep. 1969) Series 1, Episode 10 (The Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Casino) Malcolm
  • Mann's Best Friends (1984) 6 episodes

    UK chart singles

  • "Mad Passionate Love/You Need Feet" (1958)
  • "The Army Game/What Do We Do in the Army?" (1958) Michael Medwin, Bernard Bresslaw, Alfie Bass & Leslie Fyson
  • "Charlie Brown/The Teenager's Lament" (1959)
  • "Ivy Will Cling/I Found a Hole" (1959)
  • Stage actor

    Bresslaw performed with the Young Vic Theatre Company, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. One of his last stage performances was as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park (1990), where he demonstrated the fine line between pathos and comedy to perfection.

    He also played the genie in the lamp in Aladdin at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, in the 1990s.

    He also played the genie on the Sooty Show.

    He also voiced Gorilla on The Giddy Game Show.

    He played Mephistopheles, alongside James Warwick in the title role of an Oxford Stage Company regional touring production of Doctor Faustus in 1987.

    He was a member of the oldest theatrical fraternity in the world, the elite Grand Order of Water Rats


    His song "You Need Feet" (a parody of "You Need Hands" by Max Bygraves) was used in the Rutles' TV special, accompanying the Yoko Ono film parody "A Thousand Feet of Film". This was cut from the syndicated version and the original DVD release, but was restored (along with other cut footage) in later DVD releases.

    BT commercials

    Bresslaw, together with Miriam Margolyes, appeared with English comedian Maureen Lipman in a series of British Telecom advertisements in the late 1980s. Bresslaw and Margolyes played Gerald and Dolly, a nervous couple who drop in unannounced on Lipman's character Beatrice "Beattie" Bellman and her husband Harry.

    Personal life

    Bresslaw was married to dancer Betty Wright from 1959 until his death. They had three sons: James, Mark and Jonathan.


    Bresslaw died of a sudden heart attack on 11 June 1993. He had collapsed in his dressing room at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, London, where he was to play Grumio in the New Shakespeare Company's production of Taming of the Shrew, His body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, north London, where his ashes were buried on 17 June 1993.


    Bresslaw was the author of a privately published volume of poetry, Ode to the Dead Sea Scrolls.


    Bernard Bresslaw Wikipedia