The Ultimate Carry On Film Guide: 1958 - 1964

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The Ultimate Carry On Film Guide:
1958 - 1964 | 1965 - 1969 | 1970 - 1992
Carry On Christmas | Carry On Laughing

The Carry On films were a long-running series of 31 comedy films made between 1958-1992 that also inspired some television spin-offs. Each film was directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers, starring a regular repertoire of actors.

Peter Rogers was an independent producer who released his films through Anglo Amalgamated Films, the UK's second biggest film company of the time behind only J Arthur Rank. Peter Rogers was married to Betty Box, a highly successful producer in her own right. She worked for Gainsborough, part of the J Arthur Rank organisation and produced the Doctor series1. These were directed by Ralph Thomas and edited by his brother Gerald Thomas, who had edited films such as Hamlet (1948), The October Man and Disney's The Sword and the Rose (1955). Recognising that Gerald Thomas had the visual flair required for a director, Rogers approached Thomas to see if he would be interested in directing.

Peter Rogers had a phobia of travel and suffered severely from homesickness. This, as well as budget reasons, meant that the films were made at Pinewood Studios or, when location filming, as close to Pinewood Studios as possible. He also had a reputation for being the lowest-paying producer in Britain; famously not giving the Carry On cast a pay rise between 1958 and 1978 nor allowing them royalties. When the series was established, Sid James and Kenneth Williams were paid £5,000 per film while other starring members of the cast including Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Bernard Bresslaw, Jack Douglas and others as well were paid around £2,500 per film. Meanwhile Rogers himself bought two Rolls Royce a year; a convertible for summer and hardtop for winter. He famously once said I would do anything for my actors, except pay them. His view was that all the actors were expendable as the title Carry On was the star of his films.

The Films

The main Carry On cast and actors credited on four or more films are listed in Bold. As the Carry On films are considered to be quite sexist, whether or not the episodes pass the Bechdel Test is also mentioned. This can be summarised as whether the film involves two or more female characters who have a conversation together that does not include or mention any male characters.

1. Carry On Sergeant (1958)

Plot A group of incompetent raw National Service recruits are conscripted into the army, much to the annoyance of Sergeant Grimshaw, who has bet £50 that he will have his best platoon. Due to their incompetence and their lack of enthusiasm and ability, they have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, yet at the end of the film they show they have what it takes to really make it, and Sergeant Grimshaw is proud to have known them as he retires.
Length80 minutes
Colour?Black and White
SettingHeathercrest National Service Depot, mid-20th Century Britain.
Characters
  • Sergeant Grimshaw, training sergeant due to retire (William Hartnell)
  • Charlie Sage, recruit called up on his wedding day (Bob Monkhouse OBE)
  • Mary Sage, his newly-wedded wife who becomes a NAAFI2 girl (Shirley Eaton)
  • Captain Potts, depot's commanding officer (Eric Barker)
  • Corporal Bill Copping, also training the platoon (Bill Owen MBE)
  • Peter Golightly, delicate recruit (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Horace Strong, hypochondriac recruit (Kenneth Connor MBE)
  • James Bailey BSc, snobbish recruit (Kenneth Williams3)
  • Miles Heywood, upper-class recruit (Terence Longdon)
  • Herbert Brown, recruit undergoing training for fourth time (Norman Rossington)
  • Andy Galloway, rock 'n' roll recruit (Gerald Campion)
  • Captain Clark, Royal Army Medical Corps doctor (Hattie Jacques)
  • Norah, NAAFI girl in love with Horace (Dora Bryan OBE)
  • Sergeant Paddy O'Brien, bets Grimshaw he won't have a champion platoon (Terry Scott)
  • Gun Sergeant (Cyril Chamberlain)
WriterNorman Hudis with John Antrobus
BechdelPass
MusicBy Bruce Montgomery, played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards

Carry On Sergeant had begun as a promising but unsuitable script titled The Bull Boys by RF Delderfield, in which a couple of ballet dancers are conscripted into the army. After Peter Rogers acquired the script he asked John Antrobus, one of the writers of popular sitcom The Army Game (1957-1961), to develop it. Although Antrobus created several comic scenes that survive in the film, his plot as a whole did not fit together. So the script was given to Norman Hudis, a publicist who Rogers knew wanted a break as a writer. He had the idea for it to be about a bunch of incompetent National Service recruits, including a man who is called up on his wedding day before being able to enjoy his honeymoon.

The film had a small budget of £74,000, about a quarter of the typical cost of a British comedy film at the time. The cast members were paid the bare mimimum to keep the entire wages bill to a mere £10,985. He bribed the Pinewood Studio's Works Committee to agree when he promised to throw them an end-of-picture party. Filming took place at the Stoughton Barracks near Guildford in Surrey, with the army happily supplying genuine rifles and machine guns.

Many of the film's star cast would never appear in a Carry On again, including William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse, Dora Bryan and Gerald Campion. This means the film never quite feels like a Carry On until Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey appear, with minor roles compared to the more dominant parts they would play in later films. However the film establishes Hattie Jacques in a firm, authoritative role from the start.

The film industry predicted that the film would flop as Carry On Sergeant shared three of the cast4 with The Army Game, which could be watched at home for free. In fact, The Army Game's popularity helped the film and the actors. As Norman Rossington had recently been informed his contract would not be renewed for more The Army Game, he eagerly filmed Carry On Sergeant and has said,

I don't know if Gerald Thomas, Peter Rogers and Norman Hudis created 'Carry On Sergeant' with 'The Army Game' in mind, but when they heard I was sacked, they asked me to play Herbert Brown.

After the film's success he was reinstated in The Army Game with a pay rise.

2. Carry On Nurse (1959)

PlotA week on a men's ward in a hospital ruled by the iron determination of the matron.
Length86 minutes
Colour?Black and White
SettingKing George V Ward in Haven Hospital, mid-20th Century England
Nurses & Staff:
  • Matron (Hattie Jacques)
  • Nurse Dorothy Denton, Ted's love interest (Shirley Eaton)
  • Nurse Stella Dawson, clumsy nurse (Joan Sims)
  • Sister, in charge of ward (Joan Hickson OBE)
  • Staff Nurse Helen Lloyd (Ann Firbank)
  • Mick, orderly (Harry Locke)
  • Doctor Winn (Leigh Madison)
  • Student Nurse Nightingale (Rosalind Knight)
Patients & Visitors
  • Bernie Bishop, boxer with broken hand (Kenneth Connor)
    • Visited by: Mrs Jane Bishop (Susan Shaw), Jeremy Bishop (Jeremy Connor)
  • Oliver Reckitt (Kenneth Williams)
    • Visited by: Jill Thompson (Jill Ireland)
  • Humphrey Hinton (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Jack Bell, impatient patient with bunion (Leslie Phillips)
    • Visited by: Megsy (June Whitfield DBE)
  • Ted York, patient with appendicitis (Terence Longdon)
  • Colonel, racing obsessed private patient (Wilfrid Hyde-White)
  • Percy Hickson, patient with broken leg (Bill Owen)
    • Visited by: Mrs Marge Hickson (Irene Handl)
  • Henry Bray, snobby patient (Brian Oulton)
    • Visited by: Mrs Rhoda Bray (Hilda Fenemore)
  • Bert Able, patient (Cyril Chamberlain)
    • Visited by: Mrs Alice Able (Marianne Stone)
  • Norm, boxing friend of Bernie (Norman Rossington)
DragCharles Hawtrey as a surprisingly believable nurse.
WriterNorman Hudis
BechdelPass

Following Carry On Sergeant's success Peter Rogers hoped to make a drama, however Anglo Amalgamated wanted another comedy. Rogers owned the film rights to a play called Ring For Catty by Patrick Cargill and Jacke Beale, based in a tuberculosis sanatorium. Although not a comedy, the play contained comic moments, and was used as the start for what became Carry On Nurse. However as so many changes were made that nothing remained of the original play, Rogers would later adapt the it more faithfully.

Norman Hudis' wife, Rita Hudis5, was a nurse who helped provide some ideas, however Hudis hit writer's block until he was rushed into hospital with appendicitis. Inspired, after being discharged he wrote the script, his only Carry On which didn't involve incompetent staff, in a week, saying,

I had no interest or intention of getting dubious laughs out of incompetent nurses: first of all, they wouldn't last long on active duty and second, comedy or not, the underlying reality was that they frequently held life and death in their young hands and screwing up was no laughing matter.

Rogers tried to cast the same actors from Carry On Sergeant, but Dora Bryan was unavailable due to stage commitments. Rogers then cast someone who had appeared in many of his wife's films; Joan Sims. The medical equipment seen in the film was loaned from the Bermondsey Work Group Hospital Management Committee, the Central Middlesex Group Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The building itself was Pinewood Studio's Heatherdean Hall.

While female characters have all the power and authority in the film, they do divide into two categories; nurse or visiting loved one, with the exception of Dr Winn. She only has a minor appearance in the film, however the male surgeon, Mr Stephens, has no more impact. In one scene Charles Hawtrey disguises himself as a nurse played by Marita Stanton, however he looks surprisingly similar to Student Nurse Nightingale (Rosalind Knight), who was seen in a scene set the day before. Kenneth Connor's own son Jeremy plays his character's son Jeremy. Shirley Eaton discovered she was pregnant during filming and left the series.

Carry On Nurse became the most successful British film of the year, and was also an unprecedented success in America. In fact it would by far be the most successful of the Carry On series and the only one to make any impact in the United States.

3. Carry On Teacher (1959)

PlotThe week before the end of term, the headmaster of Maudlin Street Secondary School tells his teachers he is considering applying to be headmaster of a brand new school in the country. This conversation is overheard by one of his pupils who encourages the others to conduct a series of practical jokes while the school is being inspected in order to prevent his getting the job. Following a series of misadventures, at the end of the film Headmaster Wakefield is proud to have known the children and chooses not to accept promotion.
Length86 minutes
Colour?Black and White
SettingMaudlin Street Secondary Modern School, late 1950s England.
Characters
  • William Wakefield, Headmaster (Ted Ray)
  • Mr Bean, music teacher (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Mr Gregory Adams, science teacher (Kenneth Connor)
  • Mr Milton, English teacher (Kenneth Williams)
  • Mrs Short, maths teacher (Hattie Jacques)
  • Miss Allcock, PE teacher (Joan Sims)
  • Felicity Wheeler, School Inspector (Rosalind Knight)
  • Alistair Grigg, visiting psychiatrist (Leslie Phillips)
  • Alf, caretaker (Cyril Chamberlain)
  • Pupils, credited as 'The Saboteurs' (Richard O'Sullivan, George Howell, Diana Beevers, Jacqueline Lewis, Roy Hines, Carol White, Jane White, Paul Cole and Larry Dann)
WriterNorman Hudis
BechdelPass

In many ways, Carry On Teacher is the most dated film of the series, showing an era in which it was considered odd to be a teacher who does not regularly cane their children. Even Mr Milton who strongly disapproves of it admits he has caned pupils in the past. The school has dangerous chemicals and books on bomb-making and terrorism freely accessible but there no sex education and the English department only has the Bowdlerised version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet where all the naughty bits have been edited out. Filming took place at Drayton Secondary School in West Ealing during the school holidays, with many local children turning up to appear in the final scene.

Richard O'Sullivan would later find fame with sitcoms including Doctor at Large (1971) and Man About the House (1973-6). Larry Dann would later return to the Carry On series in the 1970s with roles in Carry On Behind, Carry On England and Carry On Emmannuelle. Diane Langton, who would later appear in Carry On England and the Carry On Laughing television series is one of the children in the crowd.

The women in the film continue to have strong roles, with Hattie Jacques as the strict, authoritarian maths teacher and Joan Sims as the PE teacher. Similarly, the government school inspector who terrifies the main cast is female. Charles Hawtrey, being a classical pianist, is a natural as the music teacher.

In many ways, this is the closest the Carry On series came to their rivals the St Trinian's films6 and had similar opening credits featuring cartoon drawings of pupils running amok. Carry On Teacher's itching powder gag would later be re-used in Carry On Girls.

Ted Ray was always the first choice for the role of Headmaster 'Wakey' Wakefield, although Rogers was unsure whether he would be available and had Sergeant star Eric Barker as his second choice. Ted Ray had worked regularly with Rosalind Knight and Kenneth Connor on his radio series Ray's A Laugh. It had been hoped Ted Ray would become a regular Carry On character, however he was under contract with ABC7, who threatened to no longer release any Anglo Amalgamated films if Ted Ray appeared in any more Carry On films.

Carried Off: Please Turn Over (1959)

Rogers was determined to make more than just Carry On films, but none matched the popular success of the Carry On series. His other films of the period share the same producer, director, writer and cast members as the Carry On films and can be seen as Carry Ons in all-but name.

Despite being banned from Carry On films, Ted Ray was allowed to appear in comedy films Rogers and Thomas made that did not have Carry On in the title. He appeared in their next film, a comedy based on popular West End play Please Turn Over (1959). This was adapted by Norman Hudis and starred Carry On actors Leslie Phillips, Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims.

4. Carry On Constable (1960)

PlotFlu has all-but incapacitated a police station! A group of incompetent raw recruits join the force, much to the annoyance of incompetent Inspector Mills, who blames Sergeant Wilkins for their incompetence and threatens to have him transferred. Due to the recruits' incompetence and over-enthusiasm, they have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, generally showing that they couldn't even catch a cold let alone a crook. Yet at the end of the film by they show they have what it takes by capturing the gang of thieves. Sergeant Wilkins is proud to have known them and it is Mills and not Wilkins who is transferred.
Length86 minutes
Colour?Black and White
SettingLondon, 1960.
Characters
  • Sergeant Wilkins, police sergeant threatened with transfer (Sid James)
  • Inspector Mills, incompetent and harsh police inspector (Eric Barker)
  • Constable Charlie Constable, superstitious recruit (Kenneth Connor)
  • Constable Stanley Benson, smug recruit (Kenneth Williams)
  • Constable Timothy Gorse, bird-loving recruit (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Constable Tom 'Potty-Poo' Potter, womanising recruit (Leslie Phillips)
  • WPC Gloria Passworthy, keen and efficient recruit (Joan Sims)
  • Sergeant Laura Moon (Hattie Jacques)
  • Constable Thurston (Cyril Chamberlain)
  • Sally Berry, woman in bath (Shirley Eaton)
  • Herbert Hall, con artist (Terence Longdon)
  • Mrs May, drunk woman (Joan Hickson)
  • WPC Harrison (Jill Adams)
  • Deaf old woman (Esma Cannon)
  • Store Manager (Brian Oulton)
  • Detective Sergeant Liddell (Victor Maddern)
DragCharles Hawtrey and Kenneth Connor as Agnes and Ethel, disguises to capture shoplifter
WriterNorman Hudis, based on an idea by Brock Williams8
NudityConstable, Benson, Gorse and Potter's bottoms when they take a freezing-cold shower.
BechdelPass

Carry On Constable is in many ways a series of slapstick sketches with the bare minimum of a plot to hold the film together, and sadly the actresses are underused. The key role had been written for Ted Ray, however a new lead actor was needed to replace him. Rogers therefore cast Sid James, who worked well with Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams on Hancock's Half Hour and had appeared in some of Betty Box's films including Upstairs and Downstairs (1959) in which he had played a policeman.

Instead inspiration came from the 1958 flu epidemic. Filming involved a generous 14 days' location filming around Ealing, with Hanwell Library9 on Cherrington Road used as the police station. Filming took place in November, scheduled so it would not interfere with the cast's panto work.

Following the film's release no Carry On would be made for over a year. One idea titled What a Carry On included a number of sketches but nothing linked the scenes together. There were also proposals titled Carry On Flying about raw recruits joining the RAF, which would have been based on Norman Hudis' wartime experience, with a script written in 1962, and Carry on Smoking about raw recruits joining the fire brigade. Rogers cancelled both, afraid there would be a plane crash or fire tragedy that would lead to the films being withdrawn.

Carried Off: Watch Your Stern and No Kidding (1960)

Instead of Carry On films, Rogers' made two other comedies utilising the Carry On cast and crew. The first was naval comedy Watch Your Stern which included Hattie Jacques, Leslie Phillips, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims and Sid James. This was followed by No Kidding, a story about rich children that starred Leslie Phillips. Although the film failed, Rogers and Betty bought and moved to the house where filming took place as it was close to Pinewood.

5. Carry On Regardless (1961)

Plot A group of incompetent raw recruits join the Helping Hands employment agency, run by Bert Handy and assisted by Miss Cooling. Due to their incompetence and their enthusiasm not matching their experience or ability, they have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems. Yet at the end of the film they show they have what it takes to really make it and the landlord is so impressed with their work he chooses not to evict the agency from the premises.
Length90 minutes
Colour?Black and White
Setting1960s England
Characters
  • Bert Handy, head of Helping Hands (Sid James)
  • Sam Twist, agency temp (Kenneth Connor)
  • Francis Courtenay, multi-lingual temp (Kenneth Williams)
  • Gabriel Dimple, temp (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Lily Duveen, temp (Joan Sims)
  • Delia King, curvaceous temp (Liz Fraser)
  • Montgomery Infield-Hopping, upper-class temp (Terence Longdon)
  • Mike Weston, working-class temp (Bill Owen)
  • Miss Cooling, Helping Hands' secretary (Esma Cannon)
  • Landlord (Stanley Unwin)
  • Penny Panting, curvaceous lady (Fenella Fielding)
  • Policeman (Cyril Chamberlain)
  • Sister (Hattie Jacques)
  • Matron (Joan Hickson)
  • Boxing Referee (Norman Rossington)
  • Sinister Man on Train (Victor Maddern)
  • Wine Connoisseur (David Lodge)
WriterNorman Hudis
BechdelPass

The cast play agency staff hired to do 20 different jobs, making the film a sketch show. Some scenes work better than others, but the one in which Kenneth Williams plays a translator is particularly fine acting. Hudis' scripts often had Williams as unsympathetic characters however Williams' performance is at his best when he is given more to do than either appear smugly superior or uncomfortable around women. Delia King was intended to be played by Hattie Jacques who fell ill shortly before filming began. Her character's lines were given to Joan Sims and Liz Frazer while she had a small cameo as Sister while Joan Hickson played the Matron, reversing the characters they played in Carry On Nurse. For this, Jacques was paid £100. Patrick Cargill, who had written the play that Carry On Nurse was based on, also briefly cameos.

A chimpanzee appears in the film, living in the house that would later be used as Terry Scott's character's house in Carry On Up the Jungle while the Helping Hands agency building would be re-used as Dr Nookey's consulting rooms in Carry On Again Doctor. One of the girls at the Ideal Home Exhibition watching Kenneth Williams' toy demonstrations was Sally Geeson, who would later star opposite Sid James as his daughter in Bless This House and would be in Carry On Abroad and Carry On Girls.

Carried Off: Raising the Wind and Twice Round the Daffodils (1962)

Raising the Wind was written by Carry On composer Bruce Montgomery, who had also written a series of detective novels. Montgomery's working relationship with Rogers ended soon after when Rogers paid Montgomery to write a cello concerto which was never written. In fact Montgomery had not written any music for some time, and had been hiring Eric Rogers to write for him anonymously. Montgomery was then replaced by Eric Rogers as the Carry On composer. This film features Jim Dale's debut, credited 39th as 'Bass Trombone'. Despite this minor role he impressed Rogers enough for Rogers to give him increasingly larger parts in following films.

The Ring For Catty script that had inspired Carry On Nurse was developed again by Hudis, this time based in a tuberculosis sanatorium. Now titled Twice Round the Daffodils, it included Carry On stars Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Juliet Mills and Lance Percival. Rogers mistakenly believed that tuberculosis had been eliminated, however over 5,000 people had died of the disease in the UK in 1961. As jokes about it did not go down well, the film performed poorly.

6. Carry On Cruising (1962)

PlotA group of incompetent raw recruits join the crew of cruise ship SS Happy Wanderer, much to the annoyance of its captain. The passengers also include a couple of single ladies looking for a husband. Due to their incompetence and their enthusiasm not matching their experience or ability, the new crewmembers have a series of misadventures and cause all sorts of problems, yet at the end of the film they show they have what it takes to really make it. The captain is so proud to have known them he chooses not to accept promotion to captain of a liner, but to carry on cruising instead.
Length89-minutes
Colour?Colour
SettingOn board cruise ship SS Happy Wanderer sailing from England to Spain, Italy and North Africa and back.
Characters
  • Captain Wellington Crowther, ship's captain (Sid James)
  • First Officer Leonard Marjoribanks (Kenneth Williams)
  • Dr Arthur Binn, ship's seasick surgeon (Kenneth Connor)
  • Gladys 'Glad' Trimble, passenger (Liz Fraser)
  • Flo Castle, passenger looking for love (Dilys Laye)
  • Bridget Madderley, elderly passenger (Esma Cannon)
  • Wilfred Haines, ship's cook (Lance Percival)
  • Tom Tree, steward (Cyril Chamberlain)
  • Sam Turner, barman (Jimmy Thompson)
WriterNorman Hudis, based on an idea by Eric Barker.
BechdelPass

This is the first Carry On in colour, and the last to be written by Norman Hudis, albeit based on a story proposed by Carry On Sergeant and Carry On Constable actor and novelist, Eric Baker. He had initially proposed a script about a European coach tour holiday, which evolved into set onboard a cruise ship. Joan Sims does not appear and was officially 'ill'10 and was replaced by Dilys Laye who had appeared in several of Betty Box's films, as well as Please Turn Over. As Hattie Jacques was still recovering from her illness she did not appear either.

After reading a review of Carry on Regardless which said he was the star of the series, Charles Hawtrey gave an ultimatum. He demanded top billing and a star for his dressing room or would not appear; Lance Percival immediately replaced him in the role of Chef Wilfred Haines. Director Gerald Thomas said,

It was a difficult decision, but with the best will in the world we could not bill him above Sid James, for example.

This was the only 1958-1972 Carry On in which Charles Hawtrey did not appear. Kenneth Williams also asked for a pay increase but was promised that though the salary would stay the same, he would get a Mediterranean cruise for free as part of filming overseas. Despite this promise, all the shots were filmed on a set in Pinewood Studios. Plans to film in Gibraltar had been considered however Rogers, with his phobia of overseas travel, preferred to stay closer to home. P&O were thanked in the credits for supplying stock footage, including that of the SS Oronsay which doubled for fictional ship SS Happy Wanderer.

Carried Off: The Iron Maiden and Nurse on Wheels (1962)

The next film by Rogers and Thomas was The Iron Maiden (1962), written by Oscar-winning lyricist Leslie Bricusse and Vivian Cox about a jet aircraft designer with a fondness for traction engines. Jim Dale was given a larger minor role and continued to impress. This was followed by Nurse on Wheels based on novel Nurse is a Neighbour, starring Juliet Mills with Esma Cannon, Norman Rossington, Joan Sims and Jim Dale. The script had been written with Sims in mind for the lead role, but as Sims had put on weight she was replaced by Juliet Mills and recast as the vicar's daughter. This was the first Peter Rogers' film officially composed by Eric Rogers and the last written by Norman Hudis, who had written all the Carry On scripts to date.

7. Carry On Cabby (1963)

PlotCharlie Hawkins is a workaholic cab company owner, who is so obsessed with his job he misses his wedding anniversary. His wife, feeling neglected, decides to secretly set-up her own rival company, Glamcabs, using stunning new cars and employing only beautiful women in air stewardess-esque outfits. Who will win the battle of the sexes?
Length91 minutes
Colour?Black and White
SettingEarly 1960s Windsor
Characters
  • Charlie Hawkins, taxi firm owner (Sid James)
  • Peggy Hawkins, his wife and head of Glamcabs (Hattie Jacques)
  • Terry 'Pintpot' Tankard, accident prone taxi driver (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Ted Watson, lovelorn taxi driver (Kenneth Connor)
  • Flo Sims, Glamcabs office manager (Esma Cannon)
  • Sally, tea lady and Ted's love interest (Liz Fraser)
  • Smile Sims, moaning taxi driver (Bill Owen)
  • Expectant Father (Jim Dale MBE)
  • Anthea, gorgeous Glamcab driver (Amanda Barrie)
  • Dancy, armed robber (Peter Gilmore)
  • Allbright, union rep taxi driver (Norman Chappell)
  • Sarge (Cyril Chamberlain)
DragKenneth Connor (Ted) disguises himself as a Glamcab woman driver
WriterTalbot Rothwell11
BechdelPass

Shortly after Hudis resigned as Rogers' scriptwriter having moved to America, Rogers received a comedy script by Talbot Rothwell. Rothwell had been in the RAF during the war and, after being shot down, was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III Prisoner of War Camp alongside Peter Butterworth, with whom he worked on the 'wooden horse' escape plan12. Impressed by Talbot's writing, he was challenged to quickly adapt an idea by Morecombe & Wise's scriptwriters Sid Green and Dick Hills about a feuding married couple. Talbot wrote his delightful script, originally titled Call Me a Cab, in two weeks, though the end sequence was co-written by Sid Colin, based on an unsold script he had written called The Streets of Town.

Sid James and Bill Owen had starred in television series Taxi! (1963-4) as a cab firm owner and a driver. This was the fourth and final of both Bill Owen and Esma Cannon's Carry On appearances, but the first by Jim Dale and Peter Gilmore. Kenneth Williams had been offered the small role of Allbright but passed. Charles Hawtrey agreed to appear when he was reassured that he would always be billed in the top three of any Peter Rogers film in which he appeared13. Neither Charles Hawtrey nor Amanda Barrie could drive when the film entered production, so Hawtrey was given a quick driving course, having three hour-long lessons a day for three weeks, passing his test just before filming began, while Barrie's scenes behind the wheel were filmed by towing her taxi.

All the Glamcabs were Cortinas donated by the Ford Motor Company, who were promoting their new car. The taxis were hired from the London General Cab Company for £5 per day and the drivers were paid 7/6d per hour each to drive their taxis. The film also contains location footage shot around the streets of Windsor.

Anglo Amalgamated only decided the film should become part of the Carry On series partway through production.

8. Carry On Jack (1963)

PlotAfter the death of Nelson the Royal Navy desperately needs more men, even incompetent Albert Poop-Decker who despite being at the academy for over 8 years and still hasn't passed, is promoted to midshipman and sent to sea. In Plymouth his clothes and identity are stolen by Sally, a serving maid, and he is press-ganged onto HMS Venus as a common sailor. However Captain Fearless is obeying his doctor's orders to avoid excitement rather than admiralty orders to seek out the enemy. This causes the first officer and bosun to plot to get rid of Captain Fearless as well as Poop-Decker and Sally, who are incompetent raw recruits. After a series of misadventures and having caused all sorts of problems, by the end of the film they have shown what it takes to really make it, with the First Sea Lord promising promotions for all.
Length91 minutes
Colour?Colour
Setting1805, following the Battle of Trafalgar, on the high seas between England and Spain
Characters
  • Captain Fearless, cowardly, incompetent captain (Kenneth Williams)
  • Midshipman Albert Poop-Decker (Bernard Cribbins OBE)
  • Walter Sweetley, press-ganged sailor (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Sally, looking for her lost love by impersonating Albert (Juliet Mills)
  • Mr Angel, ship's bosun (Percy Herbert)
  • First Officer Jonathan Howett (Donald Houston)
  • Patch aka Roger, pirate and dirty rotten plighter (Peter Gilmore)
  • Sedan Chair Carrier (Jim Dale)
  • First Sealord (Cecil Parker)
  • Admiral Nelson, dying hero (Jimmy Thompson)
  • Captain Hardy (Anton Rogers)
  • Peg, bar wench at Dirty Dicks (Marianne Stone)
Drag
  • After Sally steals his clothes, Albert wears her dress.
  • Sally spends most of her time impersonating Albert Poop-Decker, wearing his uniform.
WriterTalbot Rothwell
BechdelFail

The film was written as a spoof of the then current trend for naval films such as Mutiny on the Bounty, HMS Defiant14 and Billy Budd (all 1962), with the opening shot a recreation of the famous painting 'The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805' by Arthur William Devis. Originally intended to be a standalone comedy entitled Up the Armada, when the British Board of Film Censors refused to allow the title, the name was changed to make it a Carry On film. There are comparatively few Carry On stars in the film, though it marks Bernard Cribbins' first appearance in the series. The film does miss the usual banter from the regular actresses.

The production hired the HMS Defiant set and relevant props from HMS Defiant for £700. The ship set was constructed at the top of a hill at Pinewood Studios to allow filming in all directions free from obstructions in the distance. Bernard Cribbins and Jim Dale would return to Frensham Pond, where this was filmed, for Carry On Columbus 30 years later.

9. Carry On Spying (1964)

PlotThe only known copy of a top-secret formula has been stolen! Only a group of incompetent raw recruits for BOSH – the British Operational Security Headquarters - can be sent as backup to aid suave Agent Carstairs intercept the plans before they are given to evil Dr Crow, head of STENCH – the Society for the Total Extinction of Non-Conforming Humans. Due to their incompetence and their enthusiasm not matching their experience or ability, the new spies keep inadvertently incapacitating Carstairs. Will the world be safe?
Length87 minutes
Colour?Black and White
SettingEngland, Vienna, Algeria15 and the Orient Express
Characters
  • Agent Harold Crump, Code Name: Bluebottle (Bernard Cribbins)
  • Agent Desmond Simkins, Code Name: Red Admiral (Kenneth Williams)
  • Agent Charlie Bind, Code Name: Yellow Peril (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Agent Daphne Honeybutt, Code Name: Brown Cow (Barbara Windsor DBE)
  • The Chief, head of BOSH (Eric Barker)
  • Carstairs, BOSH's best agent (Jim Dale)
  • Lila, femme fatale (Dilys Laye)
  • Milchmann, freelance agent working for STENCH (Victor Maddern)
  • Dr Crow, head of STENCH (Body: Judith Furse, Voice: John Bluthal)
  • The Fat Man, STENCH agent - description: male, fat (Eric Pohlmann)
  • Cobley, second in command of BOSH (Richard Wattis)
Drag
  • Jim Dale as Agent Carstairs, disguised as a French girl in a beret.
  • Bernard Cribbins as Agent Bluebottle, disguised as Harriet the belly dancer.
WriterTalbot Rothwell and Sid Colin
BechdelPass16

Carry On Spying had a long, troubled journey from concept to film. Original writer Hudis was asked to write a spy spoof following the huge success of Dr No (1962), but Rogers was disappointed with the result and rejected the script. In 2004 Hudis described his rejected work as 'An appalling script, tired and uninspired, written by one who was running on empty'. Shortly afterwards Hudis moved to America where he enjoyed success writing scripts for television series such as The Man from UNCLE and The Wild, Wild West.

Two years later Peter Rogers asked Talbot Rothwell if he could come up with a spy-based comedy. Talbot, co-writing with Sid Colin, was inspired by The Third Man, Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, ensuring that the last Carry On film in black and white owes a lot to film noir.

James Bond producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman threatened to sue; Charles Hawtrey's character had been intended to be called James Bind but this had to be changed to Charlie Bind, while his number was changed from double-0 6½ to double-oh ooh, with the 'oh-oh oooh' delivered in the way only Charles Hawtrey can. Sadly Charles Hawtrey's alcoholism began to affect his performance; he passed out when filming a sequence in which he is dangling from a girder. This is the film's weakest point. In order for the characters to escape from being dunked in acid by an automated machine, it is switched into reverse. Two whole minutes of the cast making their way through the machine, falling down, being pummelled by dirty rocks and getting soaked in a car wash is shown in reverse. The joke wears off after a couple of seconds but the clip drags on.

This was the first film in the series to star Barbara Windsor. Peter Rogers was still trying to find a replacement actress for Liz Frazer. Windsor was chosen as she had worked well with Bernard Cribbins in Crooks in Cloisters (1964), however Carry On Spying was Bernard Cribbins' final appearance until Carry On Columbus in 1992. During filming Bernard Cribbins was hit in the neck by a plastic bullet hit and was very vocally critical. Rogers then decided not to hire him again. Bernard Cribbins would later appear in Bond-curiosity Casino Royale (1967).

Overall the film looks fantastic, with the opening sequence straight out of a James Bond film – in fact, an assassin disguised as a milkman breaking into a top secret laboratory with explosive milk bottles would be used in The Living Daylights (1987) over 20 years later17. Eric Pohlmann had appeared in The Third Man and had been the voice of Blofeld in From Russia With Love (1963), a film which inspired the sequence set on a train. The villain's underground lair complete with miniature railway looks genuinely like a James Bond set.

10. Carry On Cleo (1964)

PlotAfter conquering prehistoric Roman Britain and returning to Rome with British slaves, Cæsar and his friend Tony travel to Egypt where they meet and are enchanted by the lovely queen, Cleopatra. Will Cleo succeed in seducing Tony and get him to plot against his friend, Julie? Will the slaves escape to freedom?
Length88 minutes
Colour?Colour
SettingPrehistoric Britain, Ancient Rome and Egypt
Characters
  • Mark Anthony aka Tony, Roman general (Sid James)
  • Julius Cæsar, Roman Emperor (Kenneth Williams)
  • Seneca, Roman Sage who knows his onions (Charles Hawtrey)
  • Calpurnia, Cæsar's wife and Seneca's daughter (Joan Sims)
  • Hengist Pod, British slave (Kenneth Connor)
  • Horsa, British slave (Jim Dale)
  • Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (Amanda Barrie)
  • Senna Pod, Hengist's wife (Sheila Hancock CBE)
  • Soothsayer (Jon Pertwee)
  • Centurion (Victor Maddern)
  • Gloria, slave from Bristol (Julie Stevens)
  • Brutus, Roman senator (Brian Oulton)
  • Galley Master (Peter Gilmore)
  • Spencius, of slave traders Marcus & Spencius (Warren Mitchell)
DragHengist and Horsa disguise themselves as Vestal Virgins
WriterTalbot Rothwell
BechdelFail

Carry On Cleo is one of the highlights of the series. The script is the perfect epitome of Carry On humour at its best. The film owes its existence to epic film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor, which had begun its production in Pinewood. Soon after Taylor had a near-fatal illness and as she needed to be somewhere warm to aid her recovery, 20th Century Fox abandoned the sets they had built at Pinewood and moved to Rome18. Spotting the unused Cleopatra sets the Carry On team rushed a Roman-themed spoof into production, using the sets as well as interior props from a just-closed 1964 London production of play Caligula that were hired from actor Victor Maddern.

Joan Sims returns to the Carry On fold and is the debut of Jon Pertwee, later to find fame in Doctor Who. It was the last appearance by Amanda Barrie, who despite playing titular character Cleopatra, is seventh billed. It was the last for five years for Kenneth Connor is the only Carry On to feature Isle of Wight actress Sheila Hancock or The Avengers and Play School actress/presenter Julie Stevens.

The film is not entirely historically accurate; pre-invasion Britons were not brontosaurus-eating cavemen19, but this is irrelevant as it is definitely funny. Not everyone got the jokes; store chain Marks & Spencer were unimpressed with the slave traders named Markus and Spencius, and demanded an official apology.

In 2007 a line in the film was voted the best film one-liner of all time. This was first used in radio comedy Take It From Here by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, but fits seamlessly into the story.

Carried Off: The Big Job (1965)

Following Carry On Cleo the team made a comedy about a bank robbery, entitled The Big Job, based on John Antrobus' 1958 proposal for Carry On Constable. This starred Sid James, with Joan Sims, Jim Dale and Lance Percival.

Carrying On Next

After the first ten films, by the mid 1960s, the core Carry On team had not yet been established.

1Produced by Carry On producer Peter Roger's wife Betty Box, these were Doctor in the House (1954), Doctor at Sea (1955), Doctor at Large (1957), Doctor in Love (1960), Doctor in Distress (1963), Doctor in Clover (1966) and Doctor in Trouble (1970).2Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, organisation that runs the armed forces' recreational establishments such as canteens and shops.3Paid only £800 for his first appearance.4William Hartnell, Charles Hawtrey and Norman Rossington.5Hudis later became medical consultant of US television comedy M*A*S*H (1972-1983).6The Belles of St Trinian's (1954), Blue Murder at St Trinian's (1957), The Pure Hell of St Trinian's (1960) , The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery (1966) , The Wildcats of St Trinian's (1980) , St Trinian's (2007) and St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold(2009)7Associated British Corporation, part of Associated British Picture Corporation, a British film production, distribution and cinema company. In 1962 ABPC acquired 50% of Anglo Amalgamated, but in the 1950s Anglo Amalgamated films were released in ABC cinemas.8In fact none of his work made it into the finished film.9A Carnegie Library.10In a relationship with a Pinewood Studios carpenter, as Peter Rogers disapproved of relationships between artistes and crew she was not hired and the story of illness was circulated. Joan Sims would not appear in a Carry On until Cleo two years later.11With uncredited contributions from Sid Colin, with whom he shared his writing fee.12Butterworth was rejected from appearing in the film The Wooden Horse based on the famous escape because he was 'the wrong type'.13True to his word, from then on Peter Rogers always billed Charles Hawtrey third.14Released in America as Damn the Defiant!15Using the same stock-footage as used to represent Lugash in The Pink Panther (1964).16The Amazonian guards hold a short conversation with Lila about escorting Daphne. How the Bechdel Test applies to women conversing to asexual characters is unclear.17Carry On Spying was set in England, Vienna and Algiers, The Living Daylights is set in England, Vienna and Tangiers.18Cleopatra was the most expensive film yet made, costing over $35 million. Carry On Cleo cost £165,802.19The 1973 Carry On Christmas would feature a prehistoric scene with similar themes.

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