Sunday 10 May 2015

Carry On Composing

God bless Eric Rogers. The Carry On films would not have been nearly as brilliant without his beautifully judged musical scores. Rogers composed and conducted the theme tunes and incidental music for 22 of the 31 Carry On films made and his contribution should not be underestimated.

Taking over control of the musical scores from Bruce Montgomery, Rogers created some marvellous tunes over the years. I love the theme music for Carry On Cabby, it really sets the tone, while the music that heralds the arrival of the Glam Cab drivers is just superb. My favourite of all Eric Rogers' themes must be those for Carry On Doctor, Carry On Camping and Carry On Abroad. Each are memorable and really capture of the essence of the films that follow.

I also love the sentimental music he composed for the lovely scene between Joan Sims and Sid James at the end of Convenience. The quality of these compositions really does raise the bar and help nudge these low budget comedies up to a higher level. 

Rogers is possibly an unsung hero of the Carry Ons, only appearing very briefly as the bandleader in the party scenes in Again Doctor. He does provide glorious snatches of past classics in that scene, playing the theme from Cabby as well as the wonderful The Magic of Love from the Cafe Mozart scene in Spying (beautifully brought to life by Dilys Laye in that film). Sadly, Peter Rogers tried to cut the music budget for Carry On England so Eric declined to be involved in that film. The difference really shows. The score for England just doesn't cut it.

I really loved how he developed particular musical cues to signify the arrival of a particular character. Who can forget Charles Hawtrey's little intro music or the tune that greeted the arrival of Hattie Jacques' Matron. The music that accompanied Barbara Windsor's tottering nurse in Doctor is also a classic.

Can you imagine the Carry On films without their musical accompaniments? No, I can't either. What's your favourite piece of Carry On music? 

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  1. Like you, I loved the two ballads in Carry On Spying, sung beautifully by Dilys Laye - Too Late, and The Magic Of Love. I wonder if they were ever recorded on an album or as singles? I'd love to have full versions of them, as both (especially The Magic Of Love) were talked over in the film. I have found a largely instrumental version of Too Late (retitled as Trop Tard) on an album by American trumpeter Al Hirt, with a backing chorus but only singing the words Too Late, not the rest of the lyrics.

  2. I also recently discovered that Boz Burrell from King Crimson released his version of the Carry On Screaming theme song as a single (sadly, it didn't chart). Slightly slower than the Ray Pilgrim version featured in the film, but it does contains the full song and lyrics, whereas the Pilgrim version doesn't.

  3. Hi there, do you know if there's a collection of the incidental music from the films. The "Stripper Theme" that was used in Behind, Emmanuelle and also in Doctor In Trouble was a favourite of mine.

  4. The use of variations on other pieces of music - classical or folk - is another part of the signature style. Hatfield Jacques' theme as Matron is "The Elephant" from Saint Saens' Carnival of the Animals.