Tuesday 27 September 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Robert Jervis-Gibbons

I recently caught up with super fan Robert Jervis-Gibbons to talk about all things Carry On. When he's not indulging in his love of Carry On films, Robert is a bit of a political animal, with keen interests in consumer rights and animal welfare. But let's focus on what makes him laugh for now...so Carry On Reading to find out more:

- Can you remember the first time you ever saw a Carry On film and which film was it? 

When I was a child, like many would remember I first saw the series "Carry On Laughing" on ITV which used clips of the Rank Colour films. It was mainly a filler for ITV between programmes and lasted for about 20mins in all with various funny clips and the oldest running gags. It was that became sort of a gateway to the Carry On films for me when I was about 8. Obviously, when you are 8 you don't get the innuendo but for me they were like a cartoon, with people larking about, stunts such as Jim Dale bouncing across hospital beds , jumping on a trolley and crashing through a window. 

My parents allowed me to watch the films because they are innocent fun. I reject views which suggest they are filth and not appropriate for children, this is utter rubbish. Yes, there is vulgarity but it was only when I was 14 did I realise what some of the words meant in the comedy lines. When I was 14, my parents bought me some VHS Carry On films, they were Carry On Doctor, Carry On Again Doctor, Carry on Abroad and Carry On Behind. I always loved Carry On Abroad because probably it was the last time all our beloved Carry On team were together. I have to say Carry On Again Doctor is one of my all time favourites, it oozes class and fine performances. Peter Rogers used to say that hospital patients used to feel better when they saw the films when they were in hospital. That is certainly true, they uplift the spirit.

- You are obviously a massive fan of the films. What is it about them that you love so much?

Many things. Obviously, the clever innuendo which anyone will tell you is close to my own humour. They are essentially a British institution and the humour matches that, they make me smile and laugh however many times I have seen them, particularly some of them which I must have seen thousands of times, to the extent I can reel off the script. 

Whilst it would be easy to concentrate on the fun and laughs, I think we should always remember the fine acting, the incredible supporting cast of British acting stalwarts and the fantastic quality of the films, particularly when they entered the colour era. We should remember those that worked behind the scenes on the Carry On's often worked on other big budget movies such as James Bond. With that level of experience you can make anyone and anything great.


- Do you prefer the black and white charm of the early Carry Ons or the full on saucy colour films of the Seventies? And why... 

It is a difficult question to answer. I think Carry On Spying is one of the greatest, especially with the performances of Dilys Laye, Kenny Williams and Barbara Windsor. I think Screaming and Khyber are the best colour ones, but we can never forget Camping and Loving, the ultimate journeys in innuendo, like to Jim Tanner "Are you going to stay with us all the time? Oh yeah, I go all the way" and Imogen Hassalls "I've put it in.... the sugar!" and Terry Scott's eyes! Those eyes said it all in Matron! He didn't need to say a word, especially when he saw Mrs Tucker (Margaret Nolan).

- Do you think the likes of Carry On England Emmannuelle went too far from the traditional Carry On brand?  

I never liked England. As Joan Sims said in 1998 "Go home and put your feet up love" about her performance in the film. I find that film crude, I never really watch it. Emmannuelle I actually though was funny and Susanne Danielle terrific in the role. It also has a memorable sequence with Joan Sims and Victor Maddern in a Launderette, it was almost a tribute moment, because they knew that this was it, no more after this. They were right. Whilst these films did go off the well-known innuendo, you have to think why that was the case. They needed to stay relevant and British films were getting far more crude and pushing the innuendo boundaries. Carry On films pushed taboos but in a funny way but the later films were doomed because society had moved on, and tastes changed. That's why I think it would be difficult to replicate this today. I went to see Columbus at the cinema aged 14 and I never watched it again. I refuse to own a copy, its utter rubbish.

- Are you fan of any of the other comedy films Rogers and Thomas produced at the time? If so, what are your favourites?
I'm hardcore Carry On only, but I do like the Doctor (Dirk Bogarde) series directed by Ralph Thomas, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy them.  Twice Round the Daffodils was good which is a Gerald Thomas.

- Why do you think the Carry Ons are still so universally popular in 2016?
They represent a Britain that never really existed. They also provide continuity. People like continuity and they like to know what they are going to get. Why is Coronation Street so successful? Because the characters become part of the family. Carry On films provide the same continuity and it was because the same actors were always there, Sidney James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor, Bernard Bresslaw, Terry Scott and Hattie. They are much loved and remain part of the British psyche.


- Do you have any Carry On memorabilia or signed photos? 
Yes I do. I have signed photographs from Valerie Leon, Margaret Nolan and Dilys Laye. I wrote to Dilys before she died, she sent me the most lovely letter back which I treasure. She was a very kind lady, and a fantastic underrated actress.  Bizarrely, I also own a wig once owned by Joan Sims which I bought from ebay, but rest assured I do not wear it!! I just wanted to own something that she owned and I snapped the first thing I saw.

- I set up my blog as a tribute to the late great Joan Sims. Were you a fan of Joan and if so, what are your thoughts on her career? 

Without doubt, she is my all time favourite. Joan was a sensation in the Carry On's and a uniquely gifted actress. I believe Sidney James and her still hold the record of the number of appearances as husband / wife / couple in films.  I think it is appalling she did not have any major public recognition before she died, such as an OBE or CBE. Joan I would argue had the longest lasting career, but why for such little money or recognition? Her autobiography is sad in many ways, I felt sorry for Joan when I read it. A national icon who wasn't as cherished as she should be!


I also think it is a great tragedy Joan died and was cremated without many at her funeral, and her ashes scattered in a mass grave with no marker. I went to Putney Vale Cemetery to mark her birthday last year but whilst I found the scattering site, I left a tribute near the site which was apparently removed by the owners. I even enquired whether I could help pay or fundraise for a marker to Wandsworth Council in London, but I never received a response. I find it deeply unpleasant.

But lets not dwell on the negatives. We can put these right. Her career will be ever lasting for us to enjoy and also we should be thankful for film it captures Joan at her greatest for us, forever.  If anyone were to ask, who was she? I think her performances will answer that.

- Are there any Carry On actors still around today that you would love to meet? Who would they be and why? 

I used to work for an MP at the House of Commons. One day, when I was leaving for the evening, I remember seeing this very short lady walking in front of me. She had huge back combed blonde hair. I thought nothing of it. Then the police officer said "Hiya Barbara" and I heard next to me "Hello darlin'" then that cackle of a laugh. I was so taken aback that she was walking beside me and I didn't even notice that I couldn't actually speak i was in shock. I immediately phoned my boss, an MP, and said you won't believe who I have just seen!? She said who? Thinking it was a politician, I said "BARBARA WINDSOR" as I watched her trot across Westminster Hall. I was terrified to go and say hello, which I now deeply regret. I was struck dumb. 

I also remember when Peter Rogers came to Parliament when this failed film was launched. Of course it never happened.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/3072701.stm

The new Carry On film is launched by the Conservative Party in the House of Commons.

Fenella Fielding and Margaret Nolan are two of my living favourites but I have yet to meet them in person.

- Who do you think is the ultimate unsung hero of the Carry On films? And why do you think so? 

Patricia Rowlands as I call her, or known to us as Patsy. Totally underrated, but what a much loved member of the team. I saw Patsy interviewed on Brighton Pier for that documentary "What's a Carry On?" I always think of her when I'm on Brighton Pier when she was larking about with Mr Boggs!

I think we should also remember the likes of Rene Houston, Esma Cannon, Imogen Hassall and Amelia Baytun. Supporting stalwarts of Carry On.

- As you know there are plans to relaunch the series for the 21st Century. What are your thoughts on this? 
It has been tried before. I think some things should perhaps never be remade. Just look at the rehash of "Are you Being Served?" a close cousin of Carry On. Disastrous.

- Who is your all-time favourite Carry On actor? 

Joan Sims for the woman, Terry Scott for the men.

And finally, what's your favourite Carry On film of all time? 

Carry On Abroad. It has all the bawdy jokes, an all star cast and is the last one when they were altogether. 

Many thanks to Robert once again for this lovely interview - you can find out more about Robert by following him on Twitter here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also on Facebook


  1. Great interview and blog! As another super fan I Would love to chat all things Carry On with Robert!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Callum! Let me know if you fancy answering a few questions :) G

  2. Absolutely. Happy to take part. :)

    1. Ping me an email through the get in touch form on the blog and I'll get back to you with questions

  3. Just dropped you a message via Facebook:)

    1. You should have some questions in your inbox :)

  4. Just dropped you a message via Facebook:)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I tried to contact Robert Jervis-Gibbons bit sadly cannot find a link that works! Robert seems a like minded guy who adores Carry On.

    1. He's on Twitter @bobbymaesteg - link on the blog (which I've now updated!)

  7. Reading you're articles is always a treat. I'm 34, and Carry On has been a part of my world as long as I can recall. My first film, Carry On Screaming, fixated me, my second was Carry on Doctor and third was my then and still favourite, carry on abroad. I'm very happy to take part in any questions any time yout need a space filler 😊😊 Mark Mallender

    1. Hi Mark, Thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoy the blog. If you'd like to feature in a blog, send me your email address via the contact form on the blog and I'll send over some questions. G