Sunday 6 September 2015

Carry Off Columbus

In the latest of his guest blogs for this site, Jon takes a look back at the last Carry On film ever produced, Carry On Columbus...

Everyone has their own view on Columbus. As June Whitfield has said it should have been called Carry Off Columbus. Others rate is as better than the later entries in the series in the 1970s. I think the subject matter was a good idea at the time and the film had a lot of potential. I think if a new Carry On was to be made now (20+ years later) a contemporary setting may work better.

It clearly misses not having the established team and a good script. I always thought with a new Carry On they should try and use the existing team with a few new faces (which is now unlikely) or establish a new team.

Having Gerald Thomas and Peter Rogers at the helm made the film look promising. Dave Freeman writer of Carry On Behind and various other parts of the Carry On franchise was on board as well. However, he was given 10 days to complete the script for Carry On Columbus. This accounts for some of the quality and reusing of previous scripts e.g. my husband the count, etc.

At the time trying to use the remaining established team may have been possible with a few new faces. The Carry On related returnees - Jim Dale, Jack Douglas, Bernard Cribbins, Leslie Phillips, June Whitfield, Jon Pertwee (who did not realise it was going to be a Carry On!), Peter Gilmore and John Antrobus all joined the team but a number of others did not.

Joan Sims and Frankie Howerd were approached initially about the king and queen role. Joan was committed to 'On The Up' and Frankie died shortly before filming started. Bernard Bresslaw and Barbara Windsor were both then contacted about the same parts and rejected the roles because of the quality of the script. Kenneth Connor similarly rejected the role taken by Jon Pertwee eventually. Terry Scott was too ill to appear in the film.

The film also misses the great supporting actors and actresses from the original series. If my memory serves me right Patsy Rowlands and Jacki Piper both said they were not contacted about the film and the supporting actors (like Norman Mitchell who was offered a part but it never came through) were absent.

The new intake seemed to be a strange mix with sitcom stars Richard Wilson, Lynda Baron and Martin Clunes; Alternative comedy actors - Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Alexi Sayle and comedians such as Maureen Lipman and Julian Clary. The success of the original series was the ensemble of talented comedy character actors and actresses.

In the world of alternate realities and hindsight, I would have used one of the unused scripts from the 1980s maybe Carry On Again Nurse and tried to get Joan Sims, Kenneth Connor, Bernard Bresslaw, Jim Dale, Barbara Windsor and Jack Douglas with some of the cast from the 1970s and some of the actors and actresses of the day.

Many thanks again to Jon for sending in such an interesting blog post. If you would like to have a go at submitting a blog on anything Carry On related, all you have to do is email your piece to

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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