Sunday 17 December 2017

Your Definitive Guide to a right Carry On this Christmas!

So here, for your delectation, is my all-in-one run down of all the Carrying On that's being done across the different television networks this festive season. Practically all the original films are showing (if you really need to see England or Emmannuelle, dig out your own copy) so without further ado, here they are in date order:

18 December:

12.20 - Carry On Cleo (1964) - Channel 4

Surely one of the best ever films in the entire series, this send up of the big budget Hollywood Cleopatra movie featured particularly lush costumes and sets mainly because the Elizabeth Taylor epic left loads of gear behind when they left Buckinghamshire for a sunnier climate in 1963. Cleo boasts a stunning star turn from Amanda Barrie as the dippy, rather camp Cleopatra who spends most of her time up to her neck in asses' milk. Also along for the ride are Sid James as a very Hancockian Mark Anthony and Kenneth Williams as the definitive comic Julius Caesar. For me though, one of the stand outs is Kenneth Connor as the beautifully judged timid slave, Hengist Pod, inventor of the square wheel. Charles Hawtrey, Jim Dale and Joan Sims provide peerless support.

Further reading - Carry On Blogging Interview: Amanda Barrie 
Carry On Blogging: Five Reasons Why I Love Carry On Cleo 

19 December:

12.20 - Carry On Cabby (1963) - Channel 4

My own personal favourite from the entire run of films, this black and white kitchen sink Carry On classic was released in 1963. Originally not even destined to be part of the series, Call Me A Cab was quickly rebranded Carry On Cabby when Peter Rogers realised what a hit he had on his hands. A grittier script than usual, this one really does tug at the heart strings while also raising a smile or two. The first script from prolific writer Talbot Rothwell, the story revolves around the frustrated wife of a rather traditional male taxi firm owner who gets her own back on her neglectful husband by setting up a rival business. The difference is Glam Cabs only employs glamorous female drivers! The central performances of Hattie Jacques and Sid James as warring couple Charlie and Peggy Hawkins are the heart and soul of the film with a small but compact cast of supporting actors which include reliable turns from Kenneth Connor, Liz Fraser, Esma Cannon and Charles Hawtrey. Also look out for future Carry On leading man Jim Dale in his series debut as an expectant father and Cleo star Amanda Barrie as Glam Cab driver Anthea.

Further reading -  Carry On Blogging: Hattie Carries On as Peggy Hawkins
Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Scene in Carry On Cabby
Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Carry On

20 December:

12.25 - Carry On Nurse (1959) - Channel 4

Following hot on the heals of the surprise film hit of 1958, Carry On Sergeant, Rogers and Thomas launched into the production of Carry On Nurse, a medical-themed sequel. The overwhelming success of Nurse, particularly in America, undoubtedly laid the groundwork for a series to take shape, so us fans must always be grateful to this film. Added to that, it's also a classic! Norman Hudis again pitches the everyman against authority and this time its the first outing for Hattie Jacques' severe Matron. The male patients in the hospital ward are brought to life by a collection of wonderful actors including Kenneths Williams and Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Terence Longdon, Bill Owen, Cyril Chamberlain and Leslie Phillips. The film licks along at a cracking pace and blends social comment with slapstick, brilliant set pieces and moments of real pathos. The large supporting cast includes a debuting Joan Sims, Joan Hickson, Irene Handl, June Whitfield and Michael Medwin. And of course there's that infamous daffodil...

Further reading - Carry On Blogging: Hattie Carries On As Matron 
Carry On Blogging Interview: Christine Ozanne

21 December:

12.25 - Carry On Constable (1960) - Channel 4

Another glorious black and white feature, this film yet again plays to Norman Hudis' strengths by focusing on another British institution, the police force. There's the figure of authority pitched against a group of bumbling incompetents too as new recruits battle to success during a flu epidemic at the local station. This film marks a major turning point for the Carry Ons as it sees the debut of a certain Mr Sidney James in the starring role of Frank Wilkins. It's a fairly low key entrance for Sid, given what was to come but it's a superb performance and it's clear he's firmly in charge! Eric Barker returns for the first time since Sergeant, playing a similar officious role while the new recruits are played with relish by Leslie Phillips, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor. Throw in some lovely supporting turns from Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques and a cameo from original Carry On girl Shirley Eaton and you have a great afternoon matinee film to enjoy!

Further reading - Carry On Blogging: Connor Carries On as Constable Constable!

22 December:

12.25 - Carry On Spying (1964) - Channel 4

One of the most under-rated films in the series, Carry On Spying is the last black and white film in the run and a glorious spoof of all things James Bond with plenty of The Third Man thrown in for good measure. I've loved it since I was a child and although many key players are missing, those present put in sparkling performances. The British agents, as usual pretty bumbling, are sent off on a mission to recapture a secret formula from a subversive organisation known as STENCH. Kenneth Williams grabs the starring role in the absence of Sid James, and is ably supported by Bernard Cribbins, back after his debut in Jack, Charles Hawtrey and a new Carry On face in Barbara Windsor. Barbara gives what I think is her finest performance in Spying, it's sweet and bright and deliciously funny. Lovely support comes from Eric Barker and Richard Wattis as two rather inept Whitehall bods while Dilys Laye looks stunning as an enemy agent who keeps switching sides, seduces Kenneth Williams and belts out some gorgeous nightclub tunes to boot!

Further reading - Carry On Blogging: In Praise of Carry On Spying

Christmas Eve:

23.35 - Carry On Behind (1975) - ITV3

I have such a soft spot for this one, pretty much Carry On Camping: The Revenge! Swapping a bunch of holidaymakers in tents for a bunch of holidaymakers in caravans, this is probably the most 70s of all the Carry Ons made in that very dodgy decade! With the likes of Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor and Sid James absent from in front of the camera and Talbot Rothwell handing over his writing duties to Dave Freeman, times were a-changing. Glamorous, exotic international guest star Elke Sommer adds some fresh talent to proceedings while then current stars of the small screen such as Ian Lavender, Adrienne Posta, Sherrie Hewson and Windsor Davies bolster the slimmer than usual ranks of top class Carry On talent. Don't worry, the broad comedy is still ably delivered by Kenneths Williams and Connor, Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth and Bernard Bresslaw while Patsy Rowlands grabs her last major supporting role and Liz Fraser pops in her for her first appearance in the series since Cabby twelve years before.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Carry On Behind, A Guilty Pleasure
Carry On Blogging: My Top Ten Carry Ons - Carry On Behind

Christmas Day:

06.55- Carry On Cowboy (1965) - ITV3

Carry On Cowboy is the eleventh in the series to be made. It was released in 1965, and was the first film to feature series regulars Peter Butterworth and Bernard Bresslaw. Series regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Jim Dale and Joan Sims all feature, and Angela Douglas makes the first of her four appearances in the series.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Scene - Carry On Cowboy 
Carry On Blogging Interview: Angela Douglas 

08.50 - Carry On Don't Lose Your Head (1966) - ITV3

Don't Lose Your Head is the thirteenth in the series to be made. It features regular team members Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth, Charles Hawtrey and Jim Dale. French actress Dany Robin makes her only Carry on appearance in Don't Lose Your Head. It was released in 1966. Set in France and England in 1789 during the French Revolution it is a parody of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

The first Carry On to be produced by the Rank Organisation, Don't Lose Your Head was not conceived as a part of the series and was first released without the Carry On prefix. However the ongoing popularity of the series persuaded Rank to add the prefix to this and the following film, Follow That Camel, when they were re-released.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Joan Carries On as Desiree
Carry On Blogging: My Top Ten Carry Ons - Don't Lose Your Head 

10.45 - Carry On Follow That Camel (1967) - ITV3

Follow That Camel is the fourteenth in the series to be made, released in 1967. Like its predecessor Don't Lose Your Head, it does not have the words "Carry On" in its original title (although for screenings outside the United Kingdom it was known as Carry On In The Legion, and is alternatively titled Carry On ... Follow That Camel). It parodies the much-filmed 1924 book Beau Geste, and other French Foreign Legion films. This film was producer Peter Rogers' attempt to break into the American market; Phil Silvers (in his only Carry On) is heavily featured in a Bilko-esque role. He appears alongside Carry On regulars Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims. Angela Douglas makes the third of her four Carry On appearances. Anita Harris makes the first of her two Carry On appearances.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Five Reasons I love Follow That Camel
Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Scene - Follow That Camel 

12.40 - Carry On Doctor (1967) - ITV3

Released in 1967, It is the second in the series to have a medical theme. Frankie Howerd makes the first of his two appearances in the film series and stars alongside regulars Jim Dale, Sid James, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw. Hattie Jacques returns for the first time since Carry On Cabby four years earlier, while Barbara Windsor returns after her debut in Carry On Spying three years earlier. Carry On Doctor marked Anita Harris's second and final appearance in the series.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging Interview: Anita Harris 
Carry On Blogging: Hattie Carries On as Matron 
Carry On Blogging Interview: Frankie Howerd's Agent, Tessa Le Bars

14.40 - Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) - ITV3

Carry On Up the Khyber is a British comedy and the sixteenth in the series to be made, released in 1968. It stars Carry On regulars Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth and Charles Hawtrey. Roy Castle makes his only Carry On appearance in the romantic male lead part usually played by Jim Dale. Terry Scott returned to the series after his minor role in the first film of the series, Carry On Sergeant a decade earlier. The film is, in part, a spoof movies and television series about life in the British Raj both contemporary and from earlier, Hollywood, periods. 

Further reading:  Carry On Blogging: Joan Carries On as Lady Ruff-Diamond

16.30 - Carry On Camping (1969) - ITV3

Camping, made in the Autumn of 1968, features series regulars Sid James, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Bresslaw, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams and Peter Butterworth. Sid Boggle (Sid James) and his friend Bernie Lugg (Bernard Bresslaw) are partners in a plumbing business. They take their girlfriends, prudish Joan Fussey (Joan Sims) and meek Anthea Meeks (Dilys Laye), to the cinema to see a film about a nudist camp called Paradise. Sid has the idea of the foursome holidaying there, reasoning that in that environment their heretofore chaste girlfriends will relax their strict moral standards. Sid easily gains Bernie's co-operation in the scheme, which they attempt to keep secret from the girls.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Scene- Carry On Camping 
Carry On Blogging: The Chayste Place Girls 

18.20 - Carry On Again Doctor (1969) - ITV3

Carry On Again Doctor is the eighteenth in the series to be made. It was released in 1969 and was the third to feature a medical theme. The film features series regulars Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Hattie Jacques, Sid James, Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor. This was Jim's last Carry On appearance for 23 years until his return in Carry On Columbus.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Barbara Carries On as Goldie Locks...
Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Scene - Again Doctor 

20.05 - Carry On Up The Jungle (1970) - ITV3

Carry On Up the Jungle is the nineteenth in the series to be made, released in 1970. The film marked Frankie Howerd;s second and final appearance in the series. He stars alongside regular players Joan Sims, Sid James, Terry Scott, Bernard Bresslaw and Charles Hawtrey. Kenneth Connor returns to the series for the first time since Carry On Cleo six years earlier and would now feature in almost every entry up to Emmannuelle  in 1978. Jacki Piper makes the first of her four appearances in the series. This movie is a send-up of the classic Tarzan films.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging Interview: Jacki Piper 
Carry On Blogging Interview: Valerie Leon 

22.00 - Carry On Loving (1970) - ITV3

Carry On Loving is the twentieth in the series to be made, and was released in 1970. It features series regulars Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Terry Scott, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw alongside newcomers Richard O'Callaghan (in his first Carry On) and Imogen Hassall (in her only Carry On role). The dialogue veers toward open bawdiness rather than the evasive innuendo characteristic of the earlier films in the series. 

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Hattie Carries On as Sophie Bliss
Carry On Blogging: Five Reasons I Love Carry On Loving 

23.50 - Carry On Henry (1971) - ITV3

Carry On Henry is the 21st in the series of Carry On films to be made and was released in 1971. It tells a fictionalised story involving Sid James as Henry VIII, who chases after Barbara Windsor's character Bettina. James and Windsor feature alongside other regulars Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Terry Scott, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Connor. This was the first time that Williams and Connor appeared together since Carry On Cleo seven years previously. The original alternative title was to be Anne of a Thousand Lays, a pun on the Richard Burton film Anne of a Thousand Days, and Sid wears exactly the same cloak that Burton wore in that film. 

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Barbara Carries On as Bettina
Carry On Blogging: Carry On, Henry 

Boxing Day:

                            09.30 - Carry On At Your Convenience (1971) - ITV3

The first Carry On to fail at the box office, this one is now hailed as a classic of its kind. Tackling the thorny issue of trade unions put off the films' core audience when the film was released but Convenience is arguably the purest Carry On of them all. A wonderful prime cast of favourites headed by Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims, Bernard Bresslaw, Hattie Jacques and Charles Hawtrey and a bigger than usual supporting turn from fan favourite Patsy Rowlands make this toilet factory farce hard to resist! Throw in a memorable trip to Brighton and you're all set for a joyous lesson in labour relations!

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: My Top Ten Carry Ons: Convenience
Carry On Blogging: Why Was Convenience Such a Flop? 
Carry On Blogging: My Favourite Scene in Convenience 

10.00 - Carry On Teacher (1959) - More4

Another favourite of mine from the early Norman Hudis era of the series, Carry On Teacher blends the best elements of Ealing comedy and St Trinian's to make one of the most innocent of all the Carry Ons. A group of children rebel during an official visit from some school inspectors in the hope they can prevent their beloved headmaster from leaving to take up a new job. Gerald Thomas coaxes some lovely performances from the child actors in the cast, principally from leads Richard O'Sullivan and Carol White. Ted Ray makes his only Carry On appearance as the headmaster William Wakefield and forms a superb double act with his longtime radio co-star Kenneth Connor as bumbling science master Gregory Adams. Rosalind Knight grabs a larger role in Teacher, following her cameo in Nurse, this time playing severe school inspector Felicity Wheeler while the likes of Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams are also along for the fun as the gaggle of accident prone, squabbling teachers. 

Further reading:  Carry On Blogging Interview: Josephine Bailey
Carry On Blogging: Whatever Happened to the Saboteurs?

11.25 - Carry On Matron (1972) - ITV3

The next film in the series, made in the Autumn of '71 and released the following year, Matron was the ultimate tribute to Hattie Jacques' legendary Carry On character and the last medical film in the run. This maternity hospital comedy is a trip down the oh so familiar wards one last time coupled with a bit of a Carry On tribute to the wonderful 1950s crime caper, Too Many Crooks. Sid James and his gang (Kenneth Cope, Bernard Bresslaw and Bill Maynard) are intent on stealing birth control pills from a hospital staffed by Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams, Terry Scott and Charles Hawtrey. What could go wrong?

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Hattie Carries on as Matron (Again!)
Carry On Blogging: Joan Carries On as Mrs Tidey  

                                                 13.15 - Carry On Abroad (1972) - ITV3

Continuing on in chronological order is this classic, one of my all time favourites and a film many would argue is the last truly great Carry On in the series. The gang take on the fashionable 70s trend for foreign package holidays and there is much rich comedy and farcical situations to be found in sending the great bunch of British eccentrics ever to take to the silver screen! Sid James and Joan Sims are the best pub landlords in comedy film history and Kenneth Williams excels as a rather posh, frustrated package holiday tour guide. A lovely supporting cast includes Bernard Bresslaw, June Whitfield, Kenneth Connor, Carol Hawkins, Jimmy Logan and Gail Grainger while Peter Butterworth and Hattie Jacques are the best as the Spanish hosts! Sadly this film also marked Charles Hawtrey's last Carry On and indeed his last ever film role.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging Interview: Sally Geeson 
Carry On Blogging: Whatever Happened to Gail Grainger? 
Carry On Blogging: My Top Ten Carry Ons - Carry On Abroad 

                                                   15.05 - Carry On Girls (1973) - ITV3

So bad it's almost brilliant, this has beauty contest comedy has never been one of my favourites and is the first Carry On not to feature either Kenneth Williams or Charles Hawtrey. Sid James plays a rather dubious local councillor who attempts to cheer up his dreary seaside town with a controversial beauty contest. High spots for me are Kenneth Connor's deliciously pitiful little man Mayor and his gloriously awful, put upon wife played by the always good value Patsy Rowlands. Joan Hickson also puts in a gem of a supporting role as Mrs Dukes, despite limited screen time and I can't go any further without mentioning June Whitfield as the superbly named feminist Augusta Prodworthy! However Joan Sims is given a woefully underwritten role and turns up for a middle aged nag-a-thon while there is far too much Barbara Windsor and Jack Douglas for my liking.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Whatever Happened to the Carry On Girls?
Carry On Blogging: Barbara Carries On as Hope Springs
Carry On Blogging Interview: Robin Askwith Part 1 and Part 2

                     16.55 -  Carry On Forever Documentary - all three parts (2015) - ITV3

A real treat to end the day. I loved this three part documentary first broadcast on ITV3 two years ago. Narrated by Martin Clunes, it tells the story of our favourite series of comedy films from the very beginning, going through the series in chronological order (although missing out the likes of Again Doctor and Behind for some reason!) There are plenty of wonderful interviewees including Liz Fraser, Amanda Barrie, Sally Geeson, June Whitfield, Fenella Fielding, Patrick Mower, Margaret Nolan and Rosalind Knight. My two favourite sequences see Carry On Jack stars Juliet Mills and Bernard Cribbins reunite for the first time since they made the film in 1963 and contributions from the sons of Peter Butterworth, Kenneth Connor and Bernard Bresslaw. If you've not seen it before, do not miss this and I think it's always worth another viewing even if you saw it first time round.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: My Verdict on Carry on Forever

27 December:
10.00 - Carry On Jack (1963) - More4

Probably one of my lesser favourites, this swash buckling yarn from the early 1960s marked a return to colour for the Carry Ons and also saw the films take on a period subject matter for the very first time. Until this point, every series entry had been firmly based in the present day so for the loyal cinema-going audiences this must have been quite a shock! Jack, written by Talbot Rothwell, is also fairly light both on innuendos and familiar cast members. Indeed of the regular team at this stage, only Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey appear. Jim Dale, back for his second brief cameo role after Cabby earlier the same year, was yet to become a main presence however his appearance is a funny one and most welcome. Grabbing most of the action are Juliet Mills and Bernard Cribbins and very good they are too. Both new to the films, this was Juliet's only Carry On, despite appearing in two other films for Peter Rogers, Nurse On Wheels and Twice Round The Daffodils. Jack does feature some stunning actors in supporting roles, namely Donald Houston, Percy Herbert, Cecil Parker and Patrick Cargill.


16.10 - Carry On Dick (1974) - ITV3

Not one of my favourites by any means, but Dick is a memorable milestone in the history of the Carry Ons, although perhaps not for all the right reasons. This period feature, providing a comic retelling of the legend of Dick Turpin, stars Sid James, Barbara Windsor and Hattie Jacques, all in their last roles in the film series. Sid grabs the impressive dual role of Big Dick and the Rev Flasher and in many ways it's a bit of a retread of Don't Lose Your Head. It's still a great acting performance though. Kenneth Williams works well with Jack Douglas the law enforcers trying to capture Big Dick however stalwarts Joan Sims, Patsy Rowlands and Peter Butterworth are all given little to do. This was also the last film written by Talbot Rothwell as ill health prevented any further involvement in the series.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Carry On Dick - A Fitting Farewell?
Carry On Blogging: Barbara Carries On as Harriet
Carry On Blogging: Joan Carries On as Madame Desiree

28 December:

10.00 - Carry On Regardless (1961) - More4

Although writer Norman Hudis is on record as saying this was his least favourite of all the Carry Ons he wrote, I love Regardless. It's the most episodic film of the entire series, basically made up of a series of sketches held together by the central comic force of Sid James as the owner of the Helping Hands Agency. Helping Hands employs a rag bag of diverse workers willing to undertake (almost) anything. This premise gives Hudis a huge amount of scope and the results, in the hands of a cosy bunch of lovable Carry On eccentrics, is just brilliant. It also features the biggest supporting cast of superb British comedy actors even seen. Everyone from Fenella Fielding and Stanley Unwin to Molly Weir, Jerry Desmonde and Joan Hickson appear, mostly fleetingly. Sid is assisted by the likes of Esma Cannon, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims, Bill Owen and a debuting Liz Fraser.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: Why I love Carry On Regardless
Carry On Blogging: My Favourite scene - Carry On Regardless

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1 comment:

  1. There's a happy Christmas right there. Carry On Carrying On!