It's been all over the internet today so I had to write a blog about it tonight. Yes, apparently after several false starts in recent years, a brand new Carry On film is about to go into production. Diehard fans are naturally in two minds about this news, but before making a judgement on whatever, if anything, hits the big screen next year, let's look at what we know.
A new Carry On film, titled Carry On Doctors (not to be confused with the original Carry On Doctor) will start filming later this summer for a 2017 release. Not only that, it is already being heralded as the beginning of a whole new series of films. Another title, Carry On Campus, is being lined up to go into production hot on the heels of Doctors. The new 2017 film will be written by Tim Dawson and Susan Hickson, best known for scripting the BBC2 sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. I've never seen this programme so I can't judge on this one. I'll leave it to others to bring me up to speed.
According to the producers, the film will be aiming to create a brand new ensemble of British comedy actors and not attempting to find the next Sid James or Kenneth Williams. Just as well really as in my opinion the entire Carry On team were one off talents and completely irreplaceable. I do like the idea of the new series allowing new comedy talent to thrive and find its niche. I understand that using the Carry On brand is essential to getting the film made but it automatically gives the new writers and actors a big mountain to climb. Like it or not they will forever be compared to those who have gone before. Talents like Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques and Peter Butterworth may all be long gone but there presence still feels strong and their wonderful performances live long in the memory.
I think the new team do right to base their first film on a medical theme. The original series produced some memorable hospital-based comedies and it's often these films that the public remember the best - Barbara Windsor as the bubbly young nurse and Hattie Jacques as the fearsome Matron. At the same time I wonder what new slant on the tried and trusted formula anyone can bring at this stage of the game?
I've already heard rumours that no surviving stars will be involved in the new film. I'm in two minds about this. While I think a new generation of creative people should be in charge of such a project, the film will inevitably sink or swim depending on how it is received by the Carry On films' loyal fan base. Surely if you are resurrecting the name Carry On, you must use it as an opportunity to give longstanding fans an unexpected treat. While I think new blood should carry the film, what about a few sparkling cameos from the likes of June Whitfield, Bernard Cribbins, Fenella Fielding, Anita Harris or Amanda Barrie? It would give the traditional Carry On audience something to cheer for and really get them onside.
Ultimately I am willing to give the new team, both in front of and behind the camera, the benefit of the doubt for now. Making any new British film is fraught with difficulty and a real challenge to get off the ground so I really do wish them luck. I just wonder whether the moment for Carry On comedy on the big screen has passed. The original films were certainly saucy, frequently rude and often a bit naughty but at their core was a delightful innocence. There were in some respects more innocent, less knowing times. Times have changed and things have moved on at a hell of a pace since the heyday of the Carry On films. Do we all now know too much to find a return to nudge nudge wink wink gags amusing? Possibly. Either that or it could a tremendous blast of fresh air and just what we all need in these troubled times.
The jury is most certainly out on Carry On Doctors but I look forward to hearing what the producers and writers have planned in the weeks and months ahead. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Many of you have already got in touch via Twitter today to discuss the news, but what do the rest of you think? Are you over the moon or down in the dumps about the promise of a new Carry On film. What would you like to see on screen and who would you like to see in the cast? Whatever happens next in the Carry On story, it's certainly not going to be dull!