Sunday 7 April 2019

What a Carry On this Easter Weekend: Saturday 20 April

Once again ITV3 have delved into the archives and brought out several classic examples of Carry On comedy for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Yes, we've seen them all before but who can resist a good Carry On? I've put together a handy guide for Saturday 20 April to help you make sure you don't miss any of your favourites.

So without further ado...

Carry On Cowboy (1965)  06.35

An ambitious picture for a series at the peak of its powers, Cowboy was that rare thing, a successful British Western. With most of the regular cast attempting American accents, the likes of Sid James, Joan Sims and Jim Dale have a ball. There are important series debuts too as Cowboy brings us the first Carry On performances from valuable character players Bernard Bresslaw and Peter Butterworth. New leading lady Angela Douglas also appears for the first time as the gun toting heroine Annie Oakley.

Carry On Screaming (1966) 08.25

One of the most iconic of all the Carry Ons and definitely a favourite not just with fans but with many other cinema aficionados, this Hammer Horror pastiche is beautifully scripted with great period costumes and attention to detail. The cast is also on top form as they tell the gruesome tale of young courting ladies disappearing into the night and turning up as dress shop mannequins. Harry H Corbett is an able replacement for the absent Sid James while Jim Dale and Peter Butterworth shine in major supporting roles. And of course there's that wonderful revue-like double act of Kenneth Williams and the late, great Fenella Fielding as fiendish, bickering siblings. It doesn't get any better than this.

Carry On Follow That Camel (1967) 10.15

This French Foreign Legion spoof has all the right intentions but for me, doesn't quite come off despite a prime cast of classic Carry On actors. There are substantial, hilarious roles for pros like Kenneth Williams, Peter Butterworth and Jim Dale while Angela Douglas excels as the upper class Lady Jane and Joan Sims gives it her all in a feisty cameo as Zig ZIg, a local cafe owner. However the central performance, from American comedy legend Phil Silvers doesn't quite gel with the rest of the cast or the Carry On image. An attempt to expand the Carry On market overseas which perhaps just didn't quite hit the mark.

Carry On Don't Lose Your Head (1966) 12.10

This French Revolution comedy has it all - dashing heroics, broad comedy performances, plenty of action and some stunning set pieces. Filmed on location at some ravishing stately homes and utilising some terrific period costumes, it all looks a cut above the actual budget. Once again, the film pitches goodies against baddies as English aristocrats Sid James and Jim Dale start a campaign to rescue their French counterparts from the guillotine. This brings them into battle with the snivelling Citizens Camembert and Bidet, a brilliantly camp, bickering double act brought to life by Kenneth Williams and Peter Butterworth. Joan Sims and Dany Robin provide the glamour and Charles Hawtrey provides, well everything you'd expect from Charles Hawtrey!

Carry On Up The Jungle (1969) 13.55

Despite the obvious limitations of setting this jungle-themed adventure pretty much entirely within Pinewood Studios, Jungle does have its funny moments. Most of these come from that delicious bickering pair of ornithologists Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Connor (returning to the series for the first time in five years). Sid James is on fine macho form as Bill Boosey, the bush guide, and there is also a fine comedy performance from the ever reliable Joan Sims as Lady Bagley, searching for her missing baby boy who turns out to be Terry Scott. The fact that Terry was three years older than Joan was a point the production team obviously failed to consider! Jacki Piper makes her series debut as June, while Valerie Leon grabs a bigger role than usual as Leda, the leader of an all female jungle tribe. Charles Hawtrey arrives twenty minutes before the end of the film as Tonka the Great and pretty much steals the show.

Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) 15.40

Surely the series' crowning glory, Up The Khyber is a send up of the Empire and every British cliche we hold dear. It's a stunning script from Talbot Rothwell, coupled with sparkling performances from a hand picked team of comedy legends that make this possibly one of the best British comedies every made. Through in some wondrous location work in North Wales (doubling superbly for the Khyber Pass) and you have a cracking 90 minutes of fun. Sid James and Joan Sims lead the cast as a perfectly paired married couple on the rocks while Kenneth Williams and Bernard Bresslaw are once again the snarling baddies of the piece. Terry Scott returns to the Carry Ons for the first time since Sergeant ten years before while Peter Butterworth grabs most of the laughs as the conniving missionary Brother Belcher. Roy Castle makes his one and only Carry On appearance as Captain Keene and does an excellent job in a role obviously written for the absent Jim Dale. 

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