1958 - 1961 | 1962 – 1964 | 1965 – 1967
1968 – 1970 | 1971 – 1973 | 1974 – 1992
Carry On Christmas | Carry On Laughing
By 1968 the Carry On films had firmly established themselves as a successful British comedy series, popular with the public but generally looked down or ignored by the critics. The films were all produced by Peter Rogers at Pinewood Studios, directed by Gerald Thomas and written by Talbot Rothwell OBE. Peter Rogers was an independent producer notorious for making his films quickly, cheaply and for going out of his way to avoid paying his actors.
By the late 1960s the series had survived a cancellation crisis and now were released through J Arthur Rank, the biggest film company in Britain, having successfully moved over from Anglo Amalgamated.
Most of the key cast had been established and fell into recurring roles. These included the rebel (Sid James), authority figure (Kenneth Williams), comic relief (Charles Hawtrey) and matronly woman (Hattie Jacques). The young female love interest was alternated between Barbara Windsor and Jacki Piper. As Joan Sims had gained weight in the early 1960s she was increasingly cast as the nagging harridan.
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 named female characters who have a conversation together that does not include or mention any male characters. The roles of women in the films polarised in this period, with a pattern emerging in which in the historical comedies women have much more restrictive roles such as wife or love interest than in the films with contemporary settings.
16. Carry On Up the Khyber (1968)
|Or:||The British Position in India|
|Plot||In the border of India, the 3rd Foot & Mouth Highland Regiment guard the key Khyber Pass. Known as the Devils in Skirts, the belief they wear nothing beneath their kilts strikes fear in those who would rebel against them. Yet the discovery that actually they are wearing pants beneath their kilts could result in a full Burpa rebellion and massacre that may interrupt tiffin.|
|Setting||1895, the Khyber Pass between India and Afghanistan|
|Drag||Keene (Castle), Widdle (Hawtrey), MacNutt (Scott) and Belcher (Butterworth) disguise themselves as belly dancers.|
|Bechdel||Pass – Princess Jelhi warns Lady Ruff-Diamond she is to die the death of a thousand cuts.|
One of the series highlights in a film that spoofs such classics as Zulu (1964) and mocks Colonialism while remaining affectionately amused by the British way of life. In fact, so successful was Carry On Up the Khyber at the time that respectable film critics were even prepared to acknowledge its existence, with Carry On Up the Khyber was the most reviewed Carry On1. Though still frequently dismissed as low brow entertainment, it is the pinnacle of low brow entertainment; in 1999 the BFI called it the 99th Best British Film of all time.
Sid James returns to full strength to play the hero following his heart attack and Roy Castle is the romantic lead in a role written for Jim Dale. Bernard Bresslaw is essentially the same character as he had in Carry On Follow That Camel, playing to his strengths, with Bunghit Din a pun on Rudyard Kipling's poem 'Gunga Din'. Sadly this was the last Carry On to feature Angela Douglas, who left in order to concentrate on her family. Valerie Leon makes her Carry On debut, albeit in a minor role as one of the harem girls. Terry Scott also returns to the series, having briefly appeared in Carry On Sergeant ten years earlier.
There were some casting disappointments. Rogers had hoped that Frankie Howerd would appear, however he was committed to stage play The Wind in the Sassafras Trees. Tommy Cooper was even offered the role of the Fakir, but when he was unavailable the role was heavily trimmed and given to Cardew Robinson.
Surprisingly, although Pinewood Studios' mansion house doubled as the Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond's residence, location filming took place outside the Home Counties. A whole week's shooting actually took place in Snowdonia in Wales, the furthest filming from Pinewood the Carry On crew ever travelled.
J Arthur Rank executives apparently disliked the name Carry On Up The Khyber as 'Khyber Pass' is rhyming slang for arse, and wanted the film renamed Carry On the Regiment instead. To quote a line from the film, 'rank stupidity'.
17. Carry On Camping (1969)
|Or:||Let Sleeping Bags Lie|
|Plot||After watching a film set in a nudists' colony2 called Paradise, Sid and Bernie plot to take their girlfriends there in the hope for sex, but instead end up at a campsite with the same name. There they are joined by a variety of different characters including a party of girls from finishing school Chayste Place.|
|Setting||Paradise Campsite, late 1960s Southwest England|
The most successful British film of the year, Carry On Camping is many people's favourite film in the series. It features many wonderful character moments from Peter Butterworth and is quite possibly Terry Scott's strongest role as a henpecked husband and in quite a nice nod to earlier films, it is implied that Hattie Jacques is playing the same character as appeared in Carry On Doctor.
The film is famed for the Barbara Windsor exercising scene in which her character's bra is flung off during early morning exercises, the first, brief, female nudity to appear in a Carry On. This was achieved with a fishing line attached to the bikini to pull it away at the right moment.
However despite these highlights, overall the tone is less consistent than previous films. While Carry On Up the Khyber is a timeless classic, Carry On Camping has dated in parts, particularly the subplot involving old men ogling young schoolgirls.
The location filming took place in the fields and orchards around Pinewood Studio, as well as nearby houses. Set in the height of summer, Carry On Camping was filmed in the cold November of 1968, with mud spray-painted green to look like grass. Julian Holloway's character was expected to have a bigger, Jim Dale-like role. A romantic subplot had been written involving Sally, played by Trisha Noble, who had been expected to step into the lead young female role vacated by Angela Douglas. As Trisha Noble was frequently late to set and considered unreliable, the subplot containing them both was cut and she did not feature in more Carry On films. Instead Barbara Windsor was promoted as the film's female star and quickly rose in prominence.
18. Carry On Again Doctor (1969)
|Plot||Dr Nookey is in love with model Goldie Locks but is unpopular with fellow doctors, particularly Dr Stoppidge, who spikes his drink with alcohol at an important gathering. After behaving badly he is sent to the Beatific Islands where he meets Gladstone Screwer, a man who knows the secret behind a genuine slimming serum. Aided by wealthy widow Mrs Moore, they open the Moore-Nookey Clinic, but will things go to plan?|
|Setting||Long Hampton Hospital, England and Mission in the Beatific Islands|
|Drag||Dr Stoppidge (Hawtrey) disguises himself as Lady Puddleton|
This film seems a bit out of place in the Carry On series, with Charles Hawtrey cast in a serious role and Sid James only appearing halfway through. In fact, Carry On Again Doctor began life as a prospective adaptation of Doctor in Clover (1968) Talbot Rothwell had written for the Doctor series4. Although a script written by Jack Davies was used instead for Doctor In Clover, the script was tweaked to become a Carry On film instead. As Rank owned the film rights to Richard Gordon's Doctor books this wasn't a legal problem. So the role originally written for Sir Lancelott Spratt became Kenneth Williams' character Frederick Carver.
Steptoe and Son star William Brambell briefly appears in the film, for his silent appearance he was paid £100. After a year's absence from the Carry On films, Jim Dale returns for his penultimate appearance; he would not appear again until 1992. Jim Dale performed all his own stunts in the film, as Peter Rogers described
He insisted on doing all his own stunts. I remember Gerald [Thomas, director] telling him to look round in the direction of the camera before falling through that hammock at the shack that was Sid James [character's] house just to prove to the audience that it really was Jim Dale doing it. That was, after all, the point.
Performing the stunts always took place at the end of the filming in case something went wrong, which in this case it did as he broke his arm when riding the hospital trolley down the stairs.
As the film involved Barbara Windsor wearing nothing but strategically-placed love hearts, she had gone on a strict diet to lose weight, much to the director's disappointment, as he felt she had been far more attractive with a fuller figure. This was also the Carry On debut of Patsy Rowlands.
Once again Maidenhead Town Hall doubles as the hospital, while the Moore-Nookey clinic was the Pinewood Mansion House and Doctor Nookey's consulting rooms was in Windsor, the same building that was the Helping Hands in Carry On Regardless.
19. Carry On Up the Jungle (1970)
|Plot||In the late Victorian era an expedition in the heart of the African jungle sets out to find the rare Oozalum Bird. They survive seeing stock-footage clips of all sorts of animals and intimate encounters with the deadly vindscreen viper before they find themselves under attack from the Noshas, a race of cannibals. Do the Lubi Dubis, a tribe of Amazonian women, have a fate worse than death in mind, and is their only hope a Jungle Boy who can't swing from a vine without colliding with a concealed tree?|
|Nudity||Joan Sims' body double in the shower (filmed from a distance).|
Alongside making the first Carry On Christmas television special was the filming of Carry On Up The Jungle, which featured the same cast. Kenneth Williams was unavailable due to his commitments for his BBC series The Kenneth Williams Show, and so Frankie Howerd was cast instead. This was his second and last Carry On film role. It had been hoped to have Williams cameo as the king, but in the end this role was played by Charles Hawtrey.
The film was to be a spoof of Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan and had the working title of Carry On Jungle Boy, however a potential lawsuit saw this change. It had been hoped to cast Jim Dale as the Jungle Boy, but Dale did not want to take on what he felt was a role beneath him, ended his relationship with the Carry On series until 1992. Producer Peter Rogers explains:
If you were part of the team, you were expected to play whatever part you were offered. Sid James and Charles Hawtrey were always happy just to be included in the films. Jim complained to me that the role was nothing more than a lot of nonsensical grunts, ughs and face-pulling. Well, so is Frankenstein's Monster – it's up to the actor to bring the best out of a role. In my opinion the jungle boy character had a lot of potential for a performer who was as adept at physical comedy as Jim Dale clearly was, but he was adamant the role wasn't good enough for him. So we recast.
Terry Scott appeared instead, although his loincloth costume did have the habit of falling off during filming. The character of June, renamed from Jane to avoid legal trouble, was played by new Carry On actress Jacki Piper, who was the only Carry On actor ever to be placed under contract. She had signed a three-year contract to solve the recurring problem of needing to find a lead young female actress, although Valerie Leon has finally achieved a large enough role to be billed on the first card. Kenneth Connor also makes a welcome return to the series for the first time since Carry On Cleo in 1964.
Overall there can be no denying that this is one of the weakest of the series. There is a constant plethora of stock footage and it isn't long before seeing the gorilla go into and out of everyone's tents gets a bit repetitive. It is a spoof of Tarzan films and Boys' Own adventures in the mould of H Rider Haggard, but Terry Scott's convincing performance aside, the jokes don't seem to swing naturally and much of the humour comes from stereotyping.
The characters of the bearers and African cannibals conform to every known native stereotype. Portrayed as cowardly and expendable, we do not see any individual personality or learn the motives behind their behaviour. This leads to the character of Upsidasi, the servant played by a blacked-up Bernard Bresslaw. This naturally has been criticised as racist, showing how what culture finds acceptable has changed since 1970. Although blacking up is no longer acceptable, Upsidasi is at least portrayed positively, being brave, loyal, resourceful and better at hunting and everything else than his friend Boosey; the only criticism you can make about his character is that he is asleep when the gorilla is in camp. When he was given the part, Bernard Bresslaw was delighted not to be playing the baddie and approached the role with enthusiasm. His desire to be authentic meant that instead of just speaking the gibberish in the script, he took the trouble to learn a series of useful Ndebele phrases.
20. Carry On Loving (1970)
|Plot||Sidney and Sophie run the Wedded Bliss Computer Dating agency in Much Snogging-on-the-Green, posing as a married couple. Yet their computer is as fake as their marriage, so can any of their customers enjoy a match made in heaven?|
Peter Rogers decided to capitalise on the success of television comedy The Mating Machine (1970) and films Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) and Loving (1970). It was obvious that a younger cast was needed and so Richard O'Callaghan and Imogen Hassall were hired, however neither would last long. Imogen would not make any more Carry On films and O'Callaghan only one other, as Peter Rogers explained,
Richard was a delightful chap, he had the right sort of naivety I was looking for in the character he played in 'Carry On Loving'. But when it came to dashing, hero types he was less believable. We did need a Jim Dale type for the 70s, but Richard wasn't quite it.
There is a degree of old vs new attitudes to morality, with Jenny Grubb coming from an extremely sheltered, oppressive Victorian household only to instantly transform into a model willing to get her 'watermelons' out. Seeing more conflict between the two contradictory ways of living before reaching a compromise would probably have been more satisfactory.
Patsy Rowlands is given a brief moment to shine, while Peter Butterworth's appearance is another short one-scene cameo, for which he was paid £125. Tragically scenes featuring Yutte Stensgaard and Dad's Army's James Beck who unexpectedly died young in 1973 were cut. The same address in Windsor as had been the Helping Hands Agency and Dr Nookey's Consultancy played the Wedded Bliss Agency, while Windsor Station was used for the station scenes.
The Carry On films had reached their peak. As the 1960s ended and a new decade began, the film series would find it increasingly difficult to adapt to new tastes. The films' naughty seaside humour seemed staid and complacent as audiences increasingly demanded evermore rude, crude and nude. With the 1970s comedy trend becomingly increasingly sex-obsessed, would the aging Carry On gang be able to compete the Confessions films?