Carry On Teacher (1959)


The headmaster of Maudlin Street Secondary Modern School wishes to apply for another job. However, first he must contend with two outside evaluators and a spate of pupil-led pranks…

What’s it spoofing? The education system, specifically the way in which it was changing in the 1950s. Whether or not caning is a good idea gets discussed, for example – it was on the way out, though wouldn’t actually be outlawed until 1987. Another influence must have surely been the successful school-based comedy movies The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954) and Blue Murder at St Trinian’s (1957). Years later, Morrissey name-checked Carry On Teacher’s school in his song Late Night, Maudlin Street.

Funniest moment: The teaching staff get drunk on spiked cups of tea.

The Big 10:

* Joan Sims (2) plays games mistress Sarah Allcock, who’s full of simmering 1950s sexuality.

* Charley Hawtrey (3) appears as Michael Bean, the self-important music teacher.

* Hattie Jacques (3) isn’t a million miles away from her matron character of the last film – here she plays Grace Short, the pro-caning maths teacher.

* Kenneth Connor (3) plays the vague, scatty science master, Gregory Adams. He gets lots of spoonerisms in his dialogue, which Connor deals with brilliantly.

* Kenneth Williams (3) has entertaining bursts of anger as pragmatic literature teacher Edwin Milton.

Notable others:

* Ted Ray, a huge radio star of the era, was drafted in to play the film’s lead – headmaster Mr Wakefield. It was intended that Ray become a permanent member of the team, but contractual issues put paid to that after this single appearance.

* Richard O’Sullivan, then just 15, plays the pupil with the most screen time. Robin Stevens is the ringleader of the ‘saboteurs’ (as they’re called in the credits). It’s not the most famous Robin the actor played – 14 years later, he appeared as Robin Tripp in entertaining ITV sitcom Man About The House and its spin-off Robin’s Nest.

* Leslie Phillips returns from Carry On Nurse, here playing child psychologist Alistair Grigg. He says ‘Ding-dong’ and falls instantly in love with Sarah Allcock. The way he says her surname is understated filth.

* Also back from the preceding movie is Rosalind Knight, playing Ministry of Education evaluator Miss Wheeler. She’s attracted to Gregory Adams.

* Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett in two Star Wars films) is one of the school kids.

Top totty: Joan Sims wins by default.

Kenneth Williams says: “Started filming Carry On Teacher at Pinewood. Funny feeling. I expected more warmth on set. Everyone seemed a bit withdrawn – nice enough but withdrawn – perhaps it’s just the first day.” – Monday 9 March 1959 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p149).

“Pinewood 5, for a party, end of film. Got rather drunk and behaved stupidly with some electrics [sic – does he mean a studio technician?] and said to meet here on Sat. Of course I shall have to be out.” – Tuesday 14 April 1959 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p149).

Review: There are decent acting performances in this, rather than the OTT turns of later Carry Ons. There’s also slightly more of a plot than the first two films, yet still loose enough to have an episodic structure. The slapstick is often the funniest stuff. There’s also a serious side concerning a satire of corporal punishment and, like in Carry On Sergeant, a touching, feel-good finale.

Six whistle peas out of 10

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