As most people will already be aware, this coming weekend sees ITV3 devote much of their schedule to our beloved Carry On films. Wonderful stuff and time for a good old wallow in some well-worn nostalgia.
As well as screening several classic Carry On comedies over three days, ITV3 has produced a brand new, three part documentary series chronicling this legendary film series and its stars. What's not to like?
Let's start with what we know. We have been promised new material, namely fresh interviews with many of the surviving stars from the films. We can also expect to see some of these actors re-visit original filming locations, something I think will be fascinating. I've read that Bernard Cribbins and Juliet Mills will meet again for the first time in fifty years and Rosalind Knight will go back to the school used in Carry On Teacher. In addition to this some recently discovered photography from behind the scenes will be shown for the first time ever. All looking good so far.
I count myself as a die-hard Carry On aficionado and I know these films are like many other cult offerings - Bond, Dr Who, Hammer Horror - those that love them know everything there is to know. We collectively devour every aspect. Therefore I'm left wondering what the interviewees can possibly reveal that hasn't come to light already.
Fair enough, to casual observers it will be entertaining but most of us already know that Carry On Abroad was filmed in a car park at Pinewood and the camel used in Carry On Follow That Camel didn't want to walk on the sand. These films have become such an integral part of our national psyche that it feels they've been ravaged by an awful lot of publicity as it is.
The 40th anniversary documentary, although now a distant memory shown back in 1998, was fairly thorough and featured a good roster of familiar faces - Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor, Jim Dale, June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips to name a few - although I could have done without the additional comments from "celebrity" fans. Of course sadly we've lost even more cast members since 1998 so there will be some noticeable gaps this time around. As we also know, Barbara has opted not to be involved this time.
So who is involved? Well from the publicity doing the rounds so far we have an interesting collection of well-known actors: Bernard Cribbins, Fenella Fielding, Angela Douglas, Liz Fraser, Shirley Eaton, Juliet Mills, Jim Dale, Rosalind Knight, Valerie Leon, Amanda Barrie, Anita Harris, Sally Geeson and June Whitfield. I've also heard that we may hear from Kenneth Connor's son, Jeremy.
All good as far as I'm concerned. Any special requests? I'd love them to track down Julian Holloway, great in so many Carry On supporting roles; Gail Grainger who played Miss Plunkett in Abroad and seems to have vanished off the face of the earth and a reunion for Richard O'Callaghan, Kenneth Cope and Jacki Piper from At Your Convenience would be lovely. As the programme makers have spoken to Kenneth's son it would also make sense to interview the children of other stars, for example Peter Butterworth's son Tyler as well as Hattie Jacques' son and Sid James' children too. We will see what the three episodes bring up.
Despite minor niggles, anything new that focuses on my favourite British comedy films has to be a good thing. I've set my recorder for the Easter weekend and I can't wait to wallow in classic clips and reconnect with some wonderful comedy performers.
The Carry On Weekend kicks off this Friday morning on ITV3. The documentary Carry On Forever begins on Friday evening at 9pm, running at the same time over three nights.
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