Tuesday 8 September 2015

Carry On Audio Commentaries

Several people recently have commented on my love of the audio commentaries that accompany all of the Carry On DVD releases. Many of you have mentioned that although you own all of these DVDs you have never listened to the commentaries. Well I think you are missing out on several lovely treats!

It can be an odd experience to get used to, listening to people talk over a film. Sometimes it works better than others I admit, but there are some real gems out there and I encourage you to listen. There is also a poignancy to some of them now as sadly since the recordings in the early 2000s, several of those involved have passed away. I must admit that there are a few I'd also avoid like the plague. I wouldn't suggest starting out with anything involving Peter Rogers! His commentaries for Up The Khyber and That's Carry On are particularly gruff and monosyllabic and I've not completed either of them.

As a general rule, the commentaries which feature more than one actor are the best. Poor JIm Dale provides commentaries for four of his Carry On films and eventually it does feel like he's running out of things to say. Robert Ross does a great job as moderator/interviewer although he sometimes struggles with less forthcoming guests!

So here, in no particular order are my favourites:

Carry On Spying: Putting Bernard Cribbins and Dilys Laye together in a recording booth for 90 minutes was an act of genius. These two old pros go at the task at hand with complete and utter relish for the duration of Carry On Spying, sending each other up, reminiscing with great affection and laughing at the corny old gags. There is a real warmth here with these two and I never tire of hearing them. Wonderful stuff.

Carry On Abroad: Reuniting the younger cast of Carry On Abroad was a wonderful idea. Apart from this recording, we haven't heard nearly enough from Sally Geeson, Carol Hawkins, David Kernan and John Clive over the years. They reunite with great warmth and good humour and clearly love going back over the years to the making of the film. They also don't stop to take themselves too seriously which is a joy. Carol in particular roars with laughter throughout which is completely infectious! 

Carry On Cabby: One of the few solo commentaries which works well is this offering, which sees legendary actress Liz Fraser chat with Robert about everything and anything almost without drawing breath! Liz is a real force of nature and never shy of voicing an opinion or two, which is exactly what you need to liven these things up! She speaks with a great deal of warmth and affection about the likes of Hattie, Sid and Kenneth Connor which is lovely to hear. She also sends both herself and Robert Ross up hilariously throughout. She's a cracker!

Carry On Teacher: This is riotous good fun from the off. It's a joy to reunite Richard O'Sullivan, Larry Dann and Paul Cole, three of the mischievous saboteurs from Teacher. All three came from the Corona Academy so it's fascinating to hear tales from their careers as child actors in the 1950s and 1960s. They are quite simply having a ball and entertaining from the word go. 

Carry On Screaming: This commentary brings together two wonderful Carry On leading ladies. Fenella Fielding is always wonderful to hear from and she shares many memories from the making of this Carry On classic. She is paired with the delightful Angela Douglas for this commentary and it's great to hear the two stars back together again forty years after making the film. 

Of course there are many others to choose from. Other commentaries come from the likes of Dora Bryan, Shirley Eaton, Amanda Barrie, June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips, Jack Douglas, Patsy Rowlands, Valerie Leon, Alan Hume, Richard O'Callaghan and Jacki Piper.

So why not pick out one of these classics, stick in on tonight and give the audio commentary a try. It's well worth it! 

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