Wednesday 19 December 2018

What a Carry On this Christmas on Channel 4!

Channel 4 will be featuring some classic early Carry Ons in their festive scheduling this year I'm very pleased to say. Although you may need to get up extremely early (or set the video) to catch them. Here are the details:

Carry On Cleo - 22 December, 12.45pm, More4 

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 

Carry On Regardless - 26 December, 02.10am, Channel 4

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

Carry On Jack - 27 December, 04.10am, Channel 4 

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.

Further reading: Carry On Blogging: A Change of Tack about Carry On Jack

Carry On Nurse - 27 December, 09.50am, More4 

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

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