Carry On star Leslie Phillips dies aged 98 after long illness


Carry On star Leslie Phillips who brought laughter to front rooms across the nation has died aged 98.

The actor – best known for his ‘Ding Dong’, ‘Well, Hello’ and ‘I Say’ catchphrases – had been battling a long illness.

Younger fans will known his voice from the Harry Potter films where he was the sound of the Sorting Hat.

Phillips, the star of 150 films, suffered a life-threatening stroke in 2015, and was recovering at his home over the past few years.

He would fondly remember how he would be asked to say his catchphrases ‘millions of times’ by fans spanning generations.

Incredibly Phillips originally had a London accent when he was younger, but had elocution lessons to adopt the dulcet tones he became famous for.

But for a figure best-known for comedy, his personal life had been dogged with tragedy. 

His ex-wife Penny Bartley – who he stayed in touch with even after their divorce – was killed in a house fire in 1981.

And then in 2011 he was rocked by the suicide of his second wife, the former Bond girl Angela Scoular. 

Mr Phillips was best known for his 'Ding Dong', 'Well, Hello' and 'I Say' catchphrases during a career of starring in 150 films

Mr Phillips was best known for his ‘Ding Dong’, ‘Well, Hello’ and ‘I Say’ catchphrases during a career of starring in 150 films

Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield, Barbara Windsor and Jack Douglas celebrating the Carry on 40th Anniversary in 1998

Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield, Barbara Windsor and Jack Douglas celebrating the Carry on 40th Anniversary in 1998

Barbara Roscoe and Leslie Phillips get close during a film from earlier in his career that last up until his death aged 98

Barbara Roscoe and Leslie Phillips get close during a film from earlier in his career that last up until his death aged 98

Leslie Phillips drinking a glass of wine in 1975. He had suffered a huge stroke in his later years but had battled to recovery

Leslie Phillips drinking a glass of wine in 1975. He had suffered a huge stroke in his later years but had battled to recovery

Leslie Phillips with his new wife Zara Carr at their wedding blessing at St Mark's Church in Maida Vale back in December 2013

Leslie Phillips with his new wife Zara Carr at their wedding blessing at St Mark’s Church in Maida Vale back in December 2013

But he found love again and married third wife Zara Carr in December 2013.

She gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation when he turned ‘black and blue’ during a seizure in 2015, which had followed a stroke. 

Paying tribute, Zara, now 63, said: ‘I’ve lost a wonderful husband and the public has lost a truly great showman.

‘He was quite simply a national treasure. People loved him. He was mobbed everywhere he went.’

Leslie Phillips with his wife Penelope Bartley and their baby daughter Caroline Elizabeth outside All Souls Church following her christening, St John's Wood, London, May 4 1950

Leslie Phillips with his wife Penelope Bartley and their baby daughter Caroline Elizabeth outside All Souls Church following her christening, St John’s Wood, London, May 4 1950

'Don't Just Lie There, Say Something!' which starred Brian Rix, Joanna Lumley and Leslie Phillips in one of his notable roles

‘Don’t Just Lie There, Say Something!’ which starred Brian Rix, Joanna Lumley and Leslie Phillips in one of his notable roles

Actor Leslie Phillips looked suave  and relaxed with his many female co-stars at a photocall for TV programme 'Casanova'

Actor Leslie Phillips looked suave  and relaxed with his many female co-stars at a photocall for TV programme ‘Casanova’

Freddy Fox  - played by Leslie Phillips - and Grunhilde - played by Heidi Erich - together in the Fast Lady' film from back in 1962

Freddy Fox  – played by Leslie Phillips – and Grunhilde – played by Heidi Erich – together in the Fast Lady’ film from back in 1962

Tottenham-born film legend Leslie was still working before the stroke, voicing the Sorting Hat of the Harry Potter films and acting in several British TV dramas including the Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Revolver and Agatha Christie’s Marple.

He was born on April 20, 1924, into a working class family and made his first film appearances as a child in the 1930s.

He is believed to be the only actor still alive who performed at Pinewood Studios in its first week after opening in 1936.

During the Second World War, he was commissioned in 1943 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, and transferred to the Durham Light Infantry in 1944.

Katie Prince and Leslie Phillips made an usual duo in December 2003 when they teamed up at the Comedy Awards together

Katie Prince and Leslie Phillips made an usual duo in December 2003 when they teamed up at the Comedy Awards together

Phillip's life had been touched by tragedy after the 2011 suicide of his second wife, the former Bond girl Angela Scoular

Phillip’s life had been touched by tragedy after the 2011 suicide of his second wife, the former Bond girl Angela Scoular

Leslie Phillips in a Chichester production of Love For Love, a theatre play that showed his versatility as he trod the boards

Leslie Phillips in a Chichester production of Love For Love, a theatre play that showed his versatility as he trod the boards

Bob Monkhouse, Shirley Eaton, Irene Handl and Leslie Phillips in A Weekend With Lulu, directed by Carstairs John Paddy

Bob Monkhouse, Shirley Eaton, Irene Handl and Leslie Phillips in A Weekend With Lulu, directed by Carstairs John Paddy

But his death – nearly two years after Barbara Windsor passed away – means only Jim Dale is left from the Carry On films that made him a huge star.

Phillips turned his back on a Hollywood career to join the Carry On cast and to be with wife, Penny Bartley and their four children who were back in England.

His famous ‘I say, Ding Dong’ catchphrase of character Jack Bell in Carry On Nurse meant he would be forever immortalised in comedy.

In total he appeared in four Carry On films, the early Carry On Nurse, Carry On Teacher and Carry On Constable.

He may have feared being typecast and told producer Peter Rogers he was not keen on returning to the franchise.

But in 1992 he starred in Carry On Columbus, thrilling fans of the original series of films.

He later revealed he loved being ‘idolised’ by the public, he wished people would ‘look beyond the lecherous twit I played’.

In one of his last interview with The Chap in 2020 he said his catchphrases had followed him his entire life with people constantly requesting he say them.

He said of the frequency: ‘Millions of times, and as for my other catch phrase, ‘Ding Dong!’, I couldn’t even count.

‘But I have had a marvellous career and I am very fortunate. One thing I have learnt is that I would have liked to spend more time with my children as they grew up.’

He was made an OBE in 1998 and a CBE in 2008 for services to drama. 



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