I heard about the death of Cilla Black from a friend last night as we sat on red velvet seats in Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema awaiting the arrival of another British female icon, Fenella Fielding.

Newcastle’s legendary independent cinema was the ideal venue for last night’s event to take place. It was a screaming, I mean, screening of Carry on Screaming! followed by a two hour session of Fenella in conversation with her friend (and mine!) Simon McKay.


The Tyneside’s red velvet seats and swooshing red curtains matched the infamous red velvet dress Fenella was poured into for the role of Valeria in Carry on Screaming! It was thrilling to see a 20 something Fenella look a like in the audience complete with long black hair and dress.

Of course Carry on Screaming! steals from/salutes the genuis of The Addams Family. Even Fenella’s “Do you mind if I smoke?” line was nabbed from Morticia. All is forgiven. It  was the way the Carry On team worked.

I won’t reveal Fenella’s age but she’s got some years on poor Cilla and Fenella’s career has lasted 60 years. And she’s still working! It was great to hear her share stories but she’s not a gossip. She is a pro, after all.


Last night’s event was sold out and we had to queue out the door before it started. Fenella got not one but two standing ovations. She earned it. Especially the reading from Frankenstein at the start.

How Fenella met Simon is a wonderful story. It’s not my story to tell. It’s theirs and you might hear them recount it on one of their radio shows or follow ’em on facebook

Or they might do another “Evening with” at an independent cinema near you. Ask them…

simon and fenella