Immortalised through her roles in 24 of the iconic Carry On films, Joan Sims remains one of Britain's best-known comedy legends.
For five decades - through more than 70 film appearances and work on stage, television, and radio - she captured the hearts of audiences around the world. Yet behind the laughter was heartache and personal torment as the incredibly private actress battled depression, insecurity, loneliness and alcoholism.
In this authorised biography of Joan, Andrew Ross details her early years on stage and rise to stardom in theatre revue, her failed romances and the intense bond with her parents which ultimately led to the collapse of her one serious love affair.
Revealed is the truth about Joan's relationships with her Carry On co-stars (including Kenneth Williams who bizarrely proposed to her), the drink problem which forced her to spend time in a grim Victorian mental institute in the early 1980s, and the circumstances behind her reclusive final years and last months in hospital before her death in 2001.
With a cast of characters ranging from Sidney James and Kenneth Williams to Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn, Joan's story, from a solitary and lonely childhood in 1930s Essex to her status as a national treasure in the 1990s, is one of professional success over personal heartache achieved through immense determination.
Drawing on first-hand accounts from Joan's closest surviving friends and contemporaries including Barbara Windsor, Fenella Fielding, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Tom Courtenay, as well as exclusive material from her personal archive, what emerges is the story of a much-loved lady who battled private demons to become one of the finest and best-loved actresses of her generation.