Monday, 1 February 2016

Carry On Hero of the Week: Dave Freeman

The whole idea of this new series of blogs is to flag up specific individuals who, in my humble opinion, really made the Carry On films what they were. So many of the actors and crew turned up at Pinewood again and again, working closely over the years to produce such a fine body of work. This week it's the turn of the man who had a relatively small role to play in the success of the Carry Ons, but did well given the difficult timing of his arrival on the scene.

This time, my Carry On hero of the week is the writer Dave Freeman. Dave is sometimes the forgotten man of Carry On, only writing his first full screenplay for the series in 1975 for Carry On Behind. Despite being the man who brought us the awful Carry On Columbus in 1992, I still think Dave deserves to be one of my Carry On heroes, and here is why.

Dave Freeman spent his working life as a prolific script writer, working with an impressive array of comedy legends. During his career, Dave collaborated with the likes of Tommy Cooper, Charlie Drake, Frankie Howerd, Sid James, Terry Scott, Arthur Askey and probably most frequently, Benny Hill. It wasn't until 1975 that the Carry Ons came calling. Regular screenwriter Talbot Rothwell had been suffering from exhaustion and would not write another Carry On after Dick was finished in 1974. Peter Rogers engaged Dave to write Carry On Behind, a modern follow up to the classic Carry On Camping, this time featuring a bunch of holidaymakers in a freezing cold campsite staying in caravans instead of tents!

Carry On Behind is actually quite a strong film for a later series entry and given the previous film saw the exit of so many key participants, Freeman does well to capture the spirit of many classic films in the series. It is therefore weird that he wasn't asked back for the next film in the franchise, Carry On England. Indeed it would be 1992 before Dave Freeman was engaged by Peter Rogers to write another film for the series. Although Columbus was an utter disaster, we can't really blame Dave Freeman for this alone. By all accounts he was only given ten days to come up with a script for a major feature film. No wonder the end product was patchy to say the least.

Dave Freeman also scripted the hugely popular big screen spinoff off the Sid James sitcom Bless This House, again for Peter Rogers, in 1972. Dave also wrote the Carry On Again Christmas television special in 1970 together with Sid Colin. His final Carry On connection was scripting four episodes of the ATV Carry On Laughing series in 1975. I think it's a shame Dave wasn't given more of a chance to contribute to the Carry Ons as Behind was a really good effort, particularly given the circumstances. 

Away from the Carry Ons, Dave Freeman wrote regularly for the television sitcom Bless This House. He also contributed regular scripts to the long running comedy series Terry and June. His major stage success was the farce A Bedfull of Foreigners which debuted in 1973 starring Terry Scott and June Whitfield. He followed this up with the plays Key For Two in 1982 and finally Kindly Keep It Covered in 1987, which starred Carry On actors Terry Scott and Amanda Barrie. 

Dave Freeman had a terrific comedy writing pedigree and despite only coming to the Carry Ons late on in their cinematic lifespan, I think he thoroughly deserves to be one of my Carry On heroes of the week. 

You can find out more about Dave at 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan  

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