Monday, 6 April 2015

Carry On Forever: My Verdict

The Carry On Weekender is at an end. It was fun, it was surprising in places and at times a bit exhausting but from all the contact and interactions I had on Twitter, everyone loved it!

So what did I think of the jewel in the ITV3 Carry On crown, Carry On Forever?

Overall I absolutely loved it. It was comforting, familiar and great fun. A chance to wallow in some bright, colourful nostalgia, reliving memories of many cinematic friends. It was often hilarious but also incredibly touching in places. I think the team behind Carry On Forever got the balance just right and on the whole did a terrific job.

I liked the chronological order the programme followed. It made sense and felt thorough, although given the approach they took it seemed strange that films like Don't Lose Your Head, Again Doctor and Behind were only touched on very briefly or completely glossed over. A minor rankle. I also thought Martin Clunes was a very good narrator, clearly exhibiting a warm affection for the films and even making brief reference to his own appearance in the dreadful Columbus in 1992!

It was wonderful to see so many former cast members take part. Yes there was a noticeable Barbara Windsor shaped gap in proceedings but we don't know the reasons for that and I think overall there was plenty of other great stuff to focus on. It was a shame though. What struck me was how good so many of the actors taking part still looked - I think they need to bottle whatever it is they are on! 

One of the main highlights for me was the decision to take some of the actors back to the locations used for filming. In particular I found Fenella Fielding's trip back to the Carry On Screaming mansion very emotional. It had obviously played and continue to play an important part in her life. Liz Fraser wandering around the Pinewood Studio used to film Carry On Cruising and the lovely Angela Douglas returning to the location in Wales for Up The Khyber were also incredibly 
touching moments. 

I also loved the opportunity to hear from the children of some of the dearly departed Carry On stars. I had seen Robin Le Mesurier interviewed about his mother, Hattie Jacques, several times before however I had never seen James Bresslaw, Jeremy Connor or Tyler Butterworth speak about their famous dads until now and it was just lovely. I have recently read Jeremy's book on his father, Kenneth, and loved it so it was great to see him reunited with Peter's son Tyler to share memories and open up the photo archive of their dads' work. Wonderful moments.

We saw many familiar Carry On faces in the likes of Jim Dale, Sally Geeson, Valerie Leon and Jacki Piper however there were some brilliant unexpected surprises in the form of Julian Holloway, Juliet Mills, Rosalind Knight, Margaret Nolan and Alexandra Dane. 

Excellent to have their involvement in the documentary - it brought a whole host of memories flooding back for many of us. For the regular Carry On fan there was very little new in the stories shared by our favourite cast members but that didn't matter. It was still glorious.

The programme certainly ticked many of my boxes however if I had to pick on one aspect to criticise it would be the end of the final episode broadcast on Sunday night. Don't get me wrong, I adored the series, I just felt that for some reason the ending felt a bit rushed. There was so much material to cover in the three hours it would inevitably be hard to pull everything together at the end. 

There were touching tributes to the likes of Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey, but while they touched on certain demons in their lives it did feel slightly uncomfortable about how deep to dig. 

I also felt it was a shame that certain other important Carry On contributors didn't get a mention of even a name-check. People like Patsy Rowlands, Joan Hickson, Jack Douglas, Carol Hawkins and Peter Gilmore all had substantial roles in the series and weren't mentioned. It might also have been good to hear more about those behind the camera other than Rogers, Thomas, Hudis and Rothwell. What about Dave Freeman who scripted Behind? Or Director of Photography Alan Hume? There was a regular team of people at Pinewood who really did make the films what they were - skilled technicians it would have been nice to hear more about. I also still think this should have been broadcast on the main ITV channel.

Anyway, I'm nitpicking now. I thoroughly enjoyed Carry On Forever. It was a wonderfully colourful nostalgic wallow in what many people agree is the most successful, most talented, most loved comedy film franchise we've ever seen. The sadness remains that so many of them are gone, but their rich legacy and beautifully bawdy comedy performances keep their memories and their massive popularity alive and intact. Long may that continue.

On a personal note, I absolutely loved all the tweets and comments from everyone over the Carry On Weekend. It was great to share the experience with so many loyal Carry On fans. So thank you for making it extra special. 

Carry On Tweeting and Carry On, Carrying On!

Follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and @GraemeN82

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  1. for me it was a great programme, good to see the old stars and even a few reunions and the actors children, but it was also sad to hear how Hattie struggled so much in her personal life struggling with her self image when many people, me included thought she was a beautiful woman

    1. Thanks for your comments Dave. I agree it's a sad story for someone who is so universally loved. She was a beautiful woman and it's awful she was so insecure. A wonderful actress.