Few people will know that Bramhall-born Carry On star Peter Butterworth once used his acting skills to help an escape from a German prisoner of war camp.
And not just any camp, but Stalag Luft III near Sagan – later immortalised in the film The Great Escape.
Butterworth and his friend Talbot Rothwell made sure their stage act provoked enough hoots, boos and whistles and to drown out the noise of the tunnel being dug by their comrades.
He was also one of the vaulters distracting the guards in the escape portrayed in the film The Wooden Horse in 1949.
He even auditioned for the part in the movie, but said he missed out because he didn’t look convincingly athletic or heroic enough!
Born in Bramhall, Stockport, in February 1919, actor Butterworth is best remembered as a stalwart of the Carry On films.
His long run started with Carry On Cowboy in 1965, when he played the role of Doc, and lasted until the final film in the main series, Carry on Emmanuelle, in 1978.
He was actually introduced to the films by fellow prisoner-of-war Rothwell who had written Carry On Cowboy and the previous four movies.
In all, Butterworth made 16 Carry On films making him the sixth most prolific performer of the established cast.
He also appeared in two Carry On Christmas specials and the 1975 TV show which ran for 13 episodes.
Butterworth teamed up with co-stars Kenneth Connor, Sid James and Barbara Windsor to tour the country in three West End stage productions.
All his Carry On roles were slightly eccentric and he was often cast as the comic side-kick to a major character.
He played Detective Constable Slowbotham to Harry H. Corbett’s Detective Sergeant Bung in the 1965 classic Carry On Screaming and was Citizen Bidet, assistant to Citizen Camembert (Kenneth Williams), in the 1966 film Carry On: Don’t Lose Your Head.
One of his most memorable roles was as Pepe, the manager of the unfinished, crumbling hotel on the Mediterranean island of Elsbels in Carry On Abroad (1972).
Before starring in the Carry On movies, Butterworth appeared in Val Guest’s film William Comes to Town in 1948.
His TV breakthrough came in the early 1950s when he played chauffeur Lockitt in the Terry Thomas sketch show How Do You View?
Many will remember him from the first Doctor Who series starring William Hartnell in 1965. Butterworth played the Meddling Monk, who appeared in the Time Meddler episodes and The Daleks’ Master Plan.
Butterworth also helped present a number of children’s TV programmes in the 1950s, including Butterworth Time and Whirligig.
He appeared in the Richard Lester films A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1966 and Robin and Marian in 1976.
Butterworth was married to well-known TV impressionist Janet Brown. Their son is actor Tyler Butterworth, who starred in the 1988 black comedy Consuming Passions with Vanessa Redgrave and Jonathan Pryce.
Peter Butterworth died in 1979 from a heart attack he suffered in Coventry where he was playing Widow Twankey in the pantomime Aladdin.
After his death, Carry On producer Peter Rogers described Butterworth as a ‘thoroughly nice bloke and a dear friend.’