Carry On Henry (1971)


King Henry VIII actually had two more wives than history has recorded: after taking against garlic-loving Marie, he fell for a young woman called Bettina…

What’s it spoofing? The multi-marriage life of Henry VIII, including the way it was presented in the 1969 movie Anne of a Thousand Days. Sid James sports a costume Richard Burton wore in that film (he also had a Burton hand-me-down in Carry On Cleo, of course).

Funniest moment: The king’s attempts to see Bettina in the nude.

The Big 10:

* Sid James (14) plays a bawdy and selfish King Henry. At one stage, producer Peter Rogers planned to cast Harry Secombe in the role.

* Kenneth Williams (19) is at the slimy end of his range as Thomas Cromwell.

* Joan Sims (16) plays Queen Marie of Normandy, the first of Henry’s previously unknown wives. She’s French so – SATIRE ALARM – likes eating garlic.

* Charles Hawtrey (20) plays Sir Roger de Lodgerley, the king’s advisor who also acts as his ‘taster’ – so decides to give Queen Marie a go! He’s later tortured for long periods, but doesn’t seem to mind too much.

* Kenneth Connor (10) is Lord Hampton of Wick, who plots to get rid of the king (in an anachronistic take on the Gunpowder Plot).

* Peter Butterworth (10) has a small role as Charles, the Earl of Bristol, whose daughter Bettina catches the eye of the king.

* Barbara Windsor (5) plays Bettina, who becomes a lady-in-waiting then later the king’s new wife. Windsor has to flash the flesh again.

Notable others:

* Terry Scott plays Cardinal Wolsey.

* Patsy Rowlands gets one line as a queen destined for a beheading.

* Margaret Nolan plays a local girl with a big cleavage who the king hunts like she’s a fox then seduces in a barn.

* Julian Holloway is Sir Thomas, an equerry.

* Bill Maynard plays Guy Fawkes. (The real Fawkes was born 23 years after Henry’s death.)

* David Prowse is a featured extra, playing a torturer.

* Peter Gilmore hams it up as Francis, King of France.

* David Essex originally had a small role, but his scene was cut out.

Top totty: Margaret Nolan.

Kenneth Williams says: “I read the script of Carry On Henry and I think it’s abysmal. My part (Cromwell) seems to equate to the thing I did in Don’t Lose Yr. Head. It is liberally sprinkled with filth.” – Sunday 13 September 1970 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p384)

“We saw the TV and it was Carry On Henry… amazing how well this was made! Everyone in it was competent and the sheer look of the thing was so professional.” – Thursday 4 January 1979 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p574)

“ITV showed Carry On Henry. Oh, dear! it was so bad in places… truly chronic dialogue… dreadful acting. Sid James had never been quite as bad as this. A collection of such rubbish you’re amazed it could ever have been stuck together. Only an audience of illiterates could ever have found this tripe amusing.” – Tuesday 19 January 1988 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p780)

Review: Sadly, you can sense the charm draining away from the series with this film. There are corny gags galore, but no woofers. And there’s very little comic momentum – it just kind of trundles along. (Around the time I rewatched this, I also saw ITV docudrama Cor Blimey! for the first time since it was screened in 2000. It tells the story of Sid James’s affair with Barbara Windsor and restages scenes from a few Carry On films, including Henry. A decent cast and some good dialogue distract you from the massive amount of fudging that goes on with historical accuracy – it has Bernard Bresslaw playing Cardinal Wolsey, for example.)

Five “In as much as I, Roger de Lodgerley, of Bedside Manor, Wilts, hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part, did unlawfully, with malice aforethought and without taking due precaution, on the night of October 4th last, admire, covet, blandish, cosset, seduce and otherwise get at Marie, spouse to Henry Tudor, hereinafter referred to as the party of the second part, I do now hereby solemnly declare, and in witness thereof I append my signature below, that the resulting issue, herein after referred to as the party of the third part, is the direct consequence of the joining together of the party of the first part’s and the party of the second part’s parts” out of 10

Carry On Again Christmas (TV special, ITV, 24 December 1970)


Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins and others head for Treasure Island…

What’s it spoofing? Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883).

Funniest moment: Nipper the Flipper (Charles Hawtrey) wants to be the cabin boy. However, Silver says to him, “We’ve already got a cabin boy. You’ll have to be something else. How do you fancy the cook?” And Nipper replies, “Well, I’ll have to look at him first.”

The cast:

* Sid James: Long John Silver

* Kenneth Connor: Dr Livershake

* Charles Hawtrey: Old Blind Pew, Nightwatchman and Nipper the Flipper

* Terry Scott: Squire Treyhornay

* Bernard Bresslaw: Rollicky Bill

* Barbara Windsor: Jim Hawkins

* Wendy Richard: Kate

* Bob Todd: Ben Gunn and shipmate

Top totty: Barbara Windsor.

Review: Urgh. This tatty, bawdy TV special was a chore to sit through. It was made in black-and-white. Some sources claim this was to keep the budget down, but the recording date matches up with an ITV cameramen strike that also affected the first few episodes of Upstairs Downstairs. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t help. Neither does the decision to abandon the previous year’s sketch-show format and present one continuous – and very boring – story. The cast are trying to get mountainous laughs from molehill gags. They don’t succeed.

Two peg legs out of 10

Carry On Loving (1970)


The Wedded Bliss marriage agency brings together singletons, but not always successfully…

What’s it spoofing? Romance, dating agencies and the ‘free love’ attitudes of the era. At times the film feels like a precursor of sex comedies such as Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974) and its sequels, though it’s not as vulgar or explicit.

Funniest moment: The Wedded Bliss office has a huge bank of computers – spinning discs of tape, panels of buttons and all that – which is used to determine a client’s ideal date. When owner Sidney Bliss punches in the requirements, however, we see the reverse side of the machine… where his wife, Sophie, selects a card and simply shoves it through a slot. (The computer prop was first used in Gerry Anderson’s TV show UFO.)

The Big 10:

* Hattie Jacques (10) plays agency manageress Sophie Plummett, who initially claims to be married to Sidney (all the better for seeming respectable).

* Sid James (13) is Sidney Bliss, who runs the company with his ‘wife’, Sophie. He spends a lot of time chasing client Esme.

* Joan Sims (15) plays Esme Crowfoot, a seamstress who was once on the agency books. She’s bored by Sidney’s advances.

* Kenneth Williams (18) plays Percival Snooper, a counsellor who works in marriage guidance at the Citizens Advice Bureau. He’s a bachelor so doesn’t have anything useful to say, so his boss tells him to get a wife; after he consults Wedded Bless, Sophie takes a shine to him.

* Peter Butterworth (9) has another one-scene cameo, this time as a sinister client.

* Charles Hawtrey (19) plays private detective James Bedsop, who dons a fake beard to follow Sidney into some train-station toilets and gets arrested.

* Bernard Bresslaw (8) shows up late on as Gripper Burke, Esme’s ex-boyfriend: a wrestler who’s jealous of any man she goes near.

Notable others:

* Terry Scott plays a client called Terence Philpot. He has a funny scene where he and his amorous date keep getting interrupted.

* Richard O’Callaghan joins the Carry On team: he’s essentially the latest attempt to replace Jim Dale. Bertram Muffet wants a wife so goes to Wedded Bliss. (O’Callaghan’s mum, Patricia Hayes, was in Carry On Again Doctor.)

* Kenny Lynch has a cameo as a bus conductor.

* Alexandra Dane’s in a one-gag scene about a busty woman and her short husband.

* Patricia Franklin and Bill Maynard play a rowing couple who Snooper fails to help.

* Joan Hickson shows up as the stuffy, fussy mother of Terence’s date. Ann Way from the Gourmet Night episode of Fawlty Towers is in the same sequence but doesn’t have any dialogue.

* Imogen Hassall plays Jenny, the initially dowdy but later sexed-up woman who Terence is paired off with.

* Jacki Piper from Carry On Up The Jungle plays Sally Martin, an actress who mistakes Bertram for a fashion photographer so strips down to her undies soon after meeting him.

* Bill Pertwee has a small role as a barman.

* Fred Griffiths – my mate Johnny’s great uncle – again plays a cab driver in a Carry On film.

* Julian Holloway plays a fashion photographer.

* Patsy Rowlands is very funny as Miss Dempsey, Snooper’s housekeeper who is not-so-secretly in love with him. When it looks like Snooper’s head is being turned by Sophie, Miss Dempsey ‘glams up’ to show him what he’s missing.

* James Beck from Dad’s Army was originally in the film, but his scene was cut out and is now sadly lost.

Top totty: Alexandra Dane, who also won this category for Up The Khyber. A pair of wins, so to speak.

Kenneth Williams says: “The script has arrived of Carry On Loving. I am offered the part of Snooper (which looks interchangeable with Charlie Hawtrey) which is certainly a small part – well no – a support I suppose, but really thankless. The end is a big party shambles where everyone throws custard pies and seems to be the bottom of the barrel, but for [writer] Talbot Rothwell bottoms are capable of infinite variety.” – Saturday 7 March 1970 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, pp370-371)

Review: It’s another sketch-show format – however, the threads are weaved together with more complexity than in, say, Carry On Regardless. (Coincidentally, the same street in Windsor was used as the agency HQ in both films.) The story ends with a lame food fight, but until then it’s generally good fun.

Seven Rogerham Mansions out of 10

Carry On Up the Jungle (1970)


A party of Edwardian explorers delve deep into the African interior, where they encounter savage natives, a tribe of sexy women, and man who’s lived in the jungle ever since being abandoned there as a baby…

What’s it spoofing? Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan, who first appeared in the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes (then numerous sequels). A pair of recent Hammer films – One Million Years B.C. (1966) and Slave Girls (aka Prehistoric Women, 1967) – are also being spoofed. The movie was filmed as Carry On Jungle Boy.

Funniest moment: When under threat of attack by some savages, our characters decide to dig a big pit and lure them into it. They dig for hours, creating a massive hole in the ground. However, as Professor Tinkle then points out when they’ve dug about 10 feet down: “How do *we* get out of this?”

The Big 10:

* Joan Sims (14) plays Lady Evelyn Bagley, an aristocratic woman whose baby went missing years earlier in Africa. In an early scene, two male characters perv on her while she’s having a shower – it’s clearly not Joan Sims in the nudie long shots.

* Charles Hawtrey (18) plays Lady E’s husband, who’s been missing for years – when he’s found 67 minutes into the film, we learn he’s rebranded himself as King Tonka, leader of a local tribe of women.

* Kenneth Connor (9) is back after eight films away from the series. (He’d been busy in the West End.) Here, he plays fruity ornithologist Claude Chumley.

* Sid James (12) plays Bill Boosey, the leader of the expedition who likes a tipple and fancies Lady Evelyn.

* Bernard Bresslaw (7) – it pains me to relate – is blacked up and doing an accent as African guide Upsidasi. Late in the film, in an admittedly effective gag, the character ‘whites up’ so he can sneak into a camp to rescue the others.

Notable others:

* Frankie Howerd headlines the film, playing Professor Inigo Tinkle, an ornithologist. The film is needlessly topped and tailed by scenes of him giving a lecture about his expedition.

* Jacki Piper debuts in the series. June, Evelyn’s maid, meets the Tarzan-like character and soon becomes his Jane. It’s the kind of part Angela Douglas was playing a few films ago.

* Terry Scott is horrendously miscast as Cecil Bagley, aka the Jungle Boy. He only got the part after Jim Dale turned it down, thinking it was a boring role. Scott sucks his stomach in and spends most of the film in a loincloth. He has little dialogue, and the character has some kind of Oedipal fixation on tits. Scott was 42 when this film was made. His parents are played by Joan Sims (39) and Charles Hawtrey (55).

* Valerie Leon plays the leader of the local ‘Amazonians’, the Lubby-Dubby tribe from the Lost World of Aphrodisia. “White men!” she says, practically moistening her knickers, when she first sees the regulars.

Top totty: Valerie Leon, for the third time.

Kenneth Williams says: “In the evening I stayed in to watch Carry On Up The Jungle which was a Carry On which I didn’t appear in. It was quite funny and at one point I was laughing along. I was staggered to see what they got away with!! A snake going up the skirt of Joan Sims! & her look of horror turning to delight!! Kenny Connor was quite marvelous, and Terry Scott was excellent as Tarzan. Sid James doing all the same old tired automaton recitations… nothing at all to do with acting… one asked oneself: ‘How of earth did he get away with it?’ but of course he did, & the incredible thing about his ‘career’ is that it spans everything from South African Boxing [note: this ‘fact’ seems to have been made up by Sid James], the American musical, Revue (Touch & Go) and conventional English theatre, and radio, and TV, and v successful film career. All built on a ‘persona’ but nothing to do with talent.” – Saturday 3 April 1976 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p513)

Review: Even by Carry On standards, the comedy is getting puerile now. The film has a low-ambition studio-bound feel about it, and is tired and pretty charmless. And racist. So, so racist. The worst one so far.

Four Oozlum birds out of 10

Carry On Christmas (TV special, ITV, 24 December 1969)


On Christmas Eve, skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts and shown the error of his ways…

What’s it spoofing? Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol (1843), though it’s a *very* loose adaptation and goes off on some distinctly non-Dickensian tangents (Frankenstein, Dracula, Cinderella…).

Funniest moment: Frankie Howerd, playing poet Robert Browning, arrives halfway through and takes over. The show basically becomes Up Pompeii! for 12 minutes and it’s great fun. (Talbot Rothwell wrote both this special and that sitcom, which had only had one episode at this point.)

The cast: There are eight actors in Carry On Christmas who play 27 roles between them, including…

* Sid James: Ebenezer Scrooge

* Peter Butterworth: a beggar, Dracula, a convent girl and an ugly sister

* Bernard Bresslaw: a town crier, Bob Cratchit, Frankenstein’s monster, the Spirit of Christmas Future, a convent girl, a hippy and a policeman

* Charles Hawtrey: the Spirit of Christmas Past, an angel, a convent girl and Buttons

* Hattie Jacques: a nun, Elizabeth Barrett and a passerby

* Terry Scott: Dr Frank N Stein, Elizabeth’s dad, a convent girl and an ugly sister

* Barbara Windsor: another monster, the Sprit of Christmas Present and Cinderella

* Frankie Howerd, as mentioned, plays Robert Browning. Well, actually he plays himself. He breaks the fourth wall, talks to camera, comments on the fiction, addresses the crew… He’s the best thing in the whole piece and returns at the end to play a terrifyingly dragged-up Fairy Godmother.

Top totty: An attractive but uncredited actress has a tiny appearance as a girl who Scrooge has hidden in a wardrobe.

Review: Shown on ITV on Christmas Eve 1969, this patchy special got 18 million viewers. There’s a general air of a shambolic, quickly rehearsed panto (some corpsing has been left in), which is a feeling that’s hammered home by a climactic Cinderella spoof with everyone talking in rhyming couplets. It’s not really like any Carry On film, especially given how many characters each actor plays, and it’s very bizarre to see the team shot on video and playing up to a studio audience.

Seven noses out of 10

Carry On Again Doctor (1969)


After an embarrassingly drunken evening, a British doctor is sent off to a medical mission in Azure Bay on the isolated Beatific Islands. There he discovers a treatment for rapid dieting, so returns to the UK to exploit it…

What’s it spoofing? The medical profession again, for a third time. The movie also satirises colonial missionary work. The script began as an entry for the rival Doctor series of films, but was then rejigged by writer Talbot Rothwell as a Carry On. The filming location used for the UK hospital is the same as that in Carry On Doctor (Maidenhead Town Hall), though they’re fictionally different places.

Funniest moment: In the medical mission, we hear jungle drums beating out an ominous message. Dr Nookey nervously asks Gladstone what it means, so he translates: “Manchester United 6, Chelsea 1… Arsenal 5, Wolves 0…”

The Big 10:

* Kenneth Williams (17) plays the haughty Frederick Carver, a surgeon who wants to form his own private practice.

* Charles Hawtrey (17) appears as Dr Ernest Stoppidge, a senior house surgeon. Near the end, he has to drag up (and does so reasonably convincingly).

* Hattie Jacques (9) is a rather perfunctory matron called Miss Soaper. Coincidentally, that’s the same surname that Kenneth Williams’s character had in the previous film.

* Jim Dale (10), back after two films off, plays Dr Jimmy Nookey. It’s an OTT performance of physical double-takes and exaggerated expressions. Nookey flirts with and woos an actress, and also has some big slapstick stunts.

* Joan Sims (13) plays wealthy private patient Ellen Moore. Carver wants her to invest in his clinic so he woos her.

* Peter Butterworth (8) worked on the film for a single day. He has a one-gag cameo as a patient. Seeing him shuffling queasily into the waiting area, two doctors have a go at guessing what’s wrong with him. He replies: “Let me see now. You thought it was a slipped disc? I’m afraid you were wrong. And you thought it was hemorrhoids. I’m afraid you were wrong. As a matter of fact, I thought I was going to break wind. I’m afraid I was wrong.”

* Barbara Windsor (4) plays an actress called Goldie Locks (real name: Maude Boggins) who comes into the hospital with a bruised back. She’s virtually naked in her first scene, and then appears actually nude – seen from the rear – later on. After going out with Jimmy, she wants to get married but he fails to spot her hints. Director Gerald Thomas was annoyed with the actress for losing weight before the filming and therefore undercutting a gag about Goldie advertising Bristol’s Bouncing Baby Food.

* Sid James (11) doesn’t join the story till fairly late on, playing the orderly at the medical mission: Gladstone Screwer. He’s skimming funds and living the life of Riley with his five (and counting) wives. When he comes to England, he lusts after Miss Soaper.

Notable others:

* Patsy Rowlands appears in a Carry On film for the first time. Miss Fosdick is the put-upon assistant of Kenneth Williams’s character who, after being stranded on the Beatific Islands, chooses to stay there.

* Patricia Hayes gets one scene as Mrs Beasley, a hospital patient who seemingly comes in every day with one complaint or another.

* Wilfred Bramble cameos (mutely) as a dirty old man. His scene is scored by the theme from Steptoe & Son.

* Peter Gilmore plays Henry, a doctor.

* Valerie Leon appears as Nookey’s leggy, cleavage-thrusting secretary, Deirdre.

Top totty: Valerie Leon again.

Kenneth Williams says: “Pinewood at 8. Sometimes on this picture, just before a ‘take’, I’ve suddenly had the feeling ‘What on earth am I doing?’ and it’s almost unnerving. I realise that you get nervous from realising the importance of what you’re doing. I’m all right when I have the jokes – then just go on and do it – without self-consciousness.” – Wednesday 19 March 1969 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p346)

“To the Metropole to see Carry On Again Doctor. It was very good indeed, and should have got excellent reviews from the press. It moves along at a spanking pace, the cutting is excellent and the situations all hold. My performance as Carver, the surgeon, is remarkably authoritative and the incredibly banal lines which I have to say are made quite acceptable by the sort of style and panache I bring to the role. I was surprised and pleased, save for the fact that the greying hair was quite noticeably at times. Alas! my youth has left me. This should be the last film I do.” – Wednesday 10 December 1969 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p363)

Review: Unlike the first two medical Carry Ons, this focuses on the hospital staff; the patients are mostly just cameos. It also has a slightly nasty, cynical streak, which has been rare in this series. It’s essentially a film about people being selfish, lying, manipulating and cheating. It’s all thunderingly sexist too. The story is in three sections: an opening at the hospital, which is full of Christmas-cracker-quality jokes; a segment set out in the wilds of Nebulous Foreign Location yet filmed in a small studio; and finally a farce-like climax in Nookey’s clinic, which sadly never really takes off. The film has its moments, but is generally a bit of a disappointment.

Six jiggery-pokeries out of 10

Carry On Camping (1969)


Various holidaymakers – including two plumbers, their girlfriends, a coachload of young girls, a shrieking wife and her unhappy husband – head for Paradise campsite…

What’s it spoofing? Campsite etiquette. A sequence at the end also pokes fun at the then-contemporary flower-power movement. The title is a pun, of course.

Funniest moment: Sid, Joan, Bernie and Anthea arrive at Paradise, which they think is a nudist camp. A sign at the entrance reads ‘All asses must be shown’. Sid asks a nearby guy where the owner is. “He’s gone for a pee,” is the answer. The owner then walks up, carrying a letter P, which is nailed before the word ‘asses’ on the sign.

The Big 10:

* Joan Sims (12) plays Joan Fussey, a woman who lives with her nagging mother.

* Sid James (10) plays Sid Boggle – a classic (maybe *the* classic) Sid James cackling letch. He wants to get girlfriend Joan to a nudist colony, but soon switches his attentions to the much younger Babs. In the tradition of the stereotype, he never actually gets any.

* Bernard Bresslaw (6) plays Bernie Lugg, Sid’s mate/sidekick. He keeps putting his foot in it by saying the wrong thing. Like in Carry On Doctor, he’s paired off with Dilys Laye.

* Charles Hawtrey (16) is the never-quite-all-there backpacker Charlie Muggins.

* Barbara Windsor (3) plays schoolgirl – yes, schoolgirl – Babs. We first see her having a scrap with another uniformed girl. Next she’s spotted making out with a grown man. She later outrageously flirts with Sid, a man three times her age, then her bikini top famously flies off while she’s doing some exercises. You can practically hear political correctness getting ready for a fight.

* Hattie Jacques (8) gets a variance on her standard ‘matron’ role, as Miss Haggerd, the matron of girls school Chayste Place. She’s attracted to her colleague Soaper.

* Kenneth Williams (16) plays Dr Soaper, the naive head of the school. Aside from one or two moments, he seems blissfully unaware that his charges might be attractive – he’s certainly aware of Miss Haggerd’s feelings, though, and has to keep putting her off.

* Peter Butterworth (7) plays the aptronymic owner of the campsite, Joshua Fiddler.

Notable others:

* Dilys Laye plays Anthea, Bernie’s slightly prudish maybe-girlfriend who seems to be ill most of the time.

* Terry Scott appears as Peter Potter, a put-upon suburban husband who wants an exotic foreign holiday but is forced to go camping with his wife.

* Betty Marsden plays Harriet, Peter’s irritatingly loud and brash other half who never pays him much attention. She has an horrendous laugh.

* Valerie Leon cameos as a sexy sales assistant in a camping-equipment shop.

* Julian Holloway’s role as coach driver Jim Tanner was reportedly hacked down in post-production (he certainly seems to hang around unnecessarily, as if his contribution is now missing). Does the character’s name mean the part was meant for Jim Dale?

* Patricia Franklin appears as the pregnant daughter of a local farmer. Franklin’s daughter in real life, Charlotte Hatherley, was in Britpop band Ash between 1997 and 2006, and also used to go out with director Edgar Wright, who cast Franklin in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.

Top totty: Valerie Leon.

Kenneth Williams says: “Gerald [Thomas, director] took me aside and said we’d been friends long enough for him to talk frankly about my work, and that I had been bad in the scene because I had been mugging & pulling faces and lost the ‘character’ of the Headmaster & that the scene had lacked credibility because of this. Peter Rodgers [producer] said ‘It was like watching Kenneth Williams doing himself on television, instead of playing a character…’ Of course by this time the ego was on the ground and covered in mud.” – Thursday 24 October 1968 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p336)

“At one point I said to Gerald ‘You can leave me out of the next film you make’ and he said ‘In the next one you are playing a coloured witch doctor’ and I replied ‘Don’t bother to ask me’ and Barbara [Windsor] cried out ‘I’ll do it Gerald’ which was quite funny.” – Wednesday 30 October 1968 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p336)

Review: The story begins with characters watching a nudist film (which is stock footage but has newly filmed close-ups of a pretty, young, topless blonde)… Barbara Windsor’s boobs pop out a couple of times… The plot’s entire thrust, as it were, is two middle-aged men lusting after sexualised schoolgirls… The amount of sex in this series has been tantrically increasing for a few films now – not actual sex, of course, but characters being obsessed with it – and now we reach, um, a peak. There’s also a palpable feel of a ‘Carry On family’. Many characters are given the same names of the actors, while there are strong familiar stereotypes in cackling Sid James, giggling Barbara Windsor, gormless Bernard Bresslaw, repressed Kenneth Williams and so on. On the downside, it’s a shame that scenes of people on holiday were famously filmed in drab weather, while the hippy festival that climaxes the story might have been topical yet feels tacked on to provide an end sequence. But the film has a great zip to it with many quick, punchy scenes and it’s often very amusing.

Eight bikini tops out of 10

Carry On… Up the Khyber (1968)


India, 1895. When a local discovers that members of the colonial 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment are wearing pants under their famous kilts, the British reputation is left in tatters…

What’s it spoofing? The British Raj, a period of colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent (1858-1947). Although obviously set in other places entirely, Michael Caine movie Zulu (1964) and Charlton Heston’s Khartoum (1966) are also being referenced.

Funniest moment: The dinner scene at the end – the British characters calmly and serenely getting on with their meal while the entire building is attacked by the local warlord.

The Big 10:

* Sid James (9) plays Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond, the randy British governor.

* Joan Sims (11) is Sir Sidney’s working-class wife, Joan, who’s so smitten with the Khasi that she betrays her husband in hope of a bunk-up.

* Kenneth Williams (15) plays the Khasi of Kalabar, the local native leader who wants to incite anti-British sentiment. Williams mostly uses a vaguely ‘foreign’ accent for the part, but gets laughs when he slips into earthy English if the character is annoyed.

* Charles Hawtrey (15) is Private James Widdle, the soldier who’s caught wearing undergarments. His regiment’s fearful reputation comes from being known as the ‘Devils in skirts’, so his affection for underpants is a problem.

* Bernard Bresslaw (5) plays Bundgit Din, an Indian warrior. The name is a spoof of Rudyard Kipling’s Gunga Din.

* Peter Butterworth (6) plays missionary Brother Belcher. The Brits use a honey trap to blackmail him into helping them.

Notable others:

* Julian Holloway plays Sir Sidney’s aide-de-camp, Major Shorthouse (pronounced with a posh accent, it sounds like ‘short arse’).

* Angela Douglas appears in a Carry On film for the final time, as Princess Jelhi, the Khasi’s daughter. She plays the sitar in a couple of scenes.

* Terry Scott (Sgt Major MacNutt) was in Carry On Sergeant in 1958, but hasn’t appeared since.

* Roy Castle, in his only Carry On, essentially replaces Jim Dale in the young romantic part. His earnest Captain Keene falls for Princess Jelhi.

* Alexandra Dane is Busti, a well-endowed member of another Carry On harem. Dane also had a tiny role in Carry On Doctor.

* Valerie Leon, uncredited, also plays a girl in the harem.

* Wanda Ventham appears as a wife of the Khasi (he has many), who visits Sir Sidney and offers to sleep with him in reparation for Joan running off with the Khasi.

* Peter Gilmore has a small role as Private Ginger Hale, one of the 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment.

Top totty: Alexandra Dane.

Kenneth Williams says: “Got the script of Up the Khyber Carry On film. They’re offering me the part of Khasi. Which is Hindustani for lavatory [note: it isn’t]. I imagine they think it’s appropriate.” – Monday 12 February 1968 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, pp319-320)

“First day’s work on Up the Khyber. It was a lousy little scene between me and Sid James but he blows a raspberry in the middle which will get a big laugh. Roy [Castle] is v. good in the rushes & photographs v handsomely: he is incredibly naïve & ingenious.” – Tuesday 16 April 1968 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, pp324-325)

Review: Well, it’s based on a ridiculously silly premise. And you have to turn a blind eye to yet more ‘comedy’ racism. But while this is perhaps not the masterpiece some people think – it once made a BFI list of the 100 best British films – it’s still broadly enjoyable stuff. There’s also a mildly interesting structure in that there’s no lead character. Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Roy Castle all have vague claims on that position, yet no one really drives the story.

Eight fakirs out of 10

Carry On Doctor (1967)


The story of the goings-on in a British hospital, following patients, doctors and visitors alike…

What’s it spoofing? Self-referentialism hits the Carry On series. In some ways, this is a pastiche of Carry On Nurse. There’s even an intertextual gag about it: “Oh, no, you don’t,” says Frankie Howerd as a nurse approaches with a daffodil, “I saw that film.” And there’s also another bit of postmodern tomfoolery: in the hospital’s lobby hangs a portrait of James Robertson Justice, star of the rival Doctor films (1954-1970).

Funniest moment: Charlie Roper (Sid James) is having his blood pressure measured when he meets Nurse Sandra (Barbara Windsor). “Hi,” she says to him, smiling. The blood-pressure machine explodes.

The Big 10:

* Joan Sims (10) again shows her versatility: she’s almost unrecognisable playing the meek, largely deaf Chloe Gibson. Sims was originally offered the role of the matron, but pointed out that Hattie Jacques should always play that part.

* Sid James (8) had recently had a heart attack, so was given a role that mostly consists of lying in bed. Charlie Roper, ironically, has nothing wrong with him – he’s faking illness so he can stay in hospital.

* Bernard Bresslaw (4) plays Ken Biddle, a patient with a foot injury who’s smitten on a woman in the female ward. (This film, it’s his turn to drag up.)

* Peter Butterworth (5) plays Mr Smith, a patient who’s had a lump removed from a delicate area.

* Charles Hawtrey (14) appears as Mr Barron, a patient who’s having sympathy pains for his wife’s labour.

* Hattie Jacques (7) returns after seven films away, and is essentially reprising her part from Carry On Nurse. It’s the second of five times she played a matron in the series – here, the character has an infatuation with Dr Tinkle.

* Jim Dale (9) is a young, dashing doctor called James Kilmore. Dale is given lots of pratfalls and physical comedy to deal with.

* Kenneth Williams (14) plays Dr Kenneth Tinkle, the hyper and arrogant registrar. It’s one of Williams’s more OTT turns, though he initially turned the part down.

* Barbara Windsor (2) plays nurse Sandra May. She first appears in her nightie then totters through the film on high heels, attracting phwoars and lustful looks wherever she goes.

Notable others:

* Frankie Howerd appears in a Carry On for the first time, playing faith healer Francis Bigger. When Howerd initially turned the part down, it was offered to Kenneth Williams, but he ended up playing Dr Tinkle.

* Peter Gilmore crops up again, playing a bored ambulance driver who – along with a colleague – appears at various points in the film like a Greek chorus.

* Anita Harris returns from Follow That Camel, now playing Nurse Clarke.

* Dilys Laye (Cruising, Spying) plays Mavis Winkle, the woman with whom Ken Biddle is eager to get to know.

* Julian Holloway plays Simmons, an X-ray operator.

* Dandy Nichols (Till Death Us Do Part) has a cameo as Charlie’s wife.

* Brian Wilde (Porridge, Last of the Summer Wine) plays a salesman from a rubber-sheet company, who Bigger mistakes for an undertaker.

Top totty: Barbara Windsor. “What a lovely looking pear!” she says as she waddles up to a fruit-eating ambulance driver. “You took the words right out of my mouth!” he leers back.

Kenneth Williams says: “They delivered the script of Carry On Doctor today and I read it. It’s really a v. good vehicle for Frankie Howerd but all the other parts are lousy. I think that is it. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I wrote a nice letter to Peter Rodgers [producer] saying I didn’t want to play the part.” – Thursday 10 August 1967 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p309)

“They are showing Carry On Doctor in the ship’s cinema today at 5 o’c [Williams was on a cruise holiday]. They had it coming out as well! I’m staying in the cabin. See enough of my face in the mirror every day.” – Thursday 13 February 1969 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p344)

Review: Of the 10 actors with the most Carry On appearances, only Kenneth Connor is missing from this cast, so the film has a certain definitive quality about it. We’re back to a contemporary setting for the first time since Carry On Spying (six films ago) and to ‘real people’ for the first time since Carry On Cabby (eight films ago). Also – to keep the statistical theme going – it’s the series’s second of four hospital-set films. Like Carry On Nurse, there’s no real overarching plot, except for a loose thread about Kilmore’s job that builds to a climax, but it’s good knockabout fun.

Eight specimen jars out of 10

Follow That Camel (1967)


When Bertram Oliphant ‘Bo’ West is disgraced during a game of cricket, he runs off to join the French Foreign Legion…

What’s it spoofing? Numerous French Foreign Legion stories, specifically PC Wren’s 1924 adventure novel Beau Geste and its movie adaptations. This is the second and final film in the series not to have the term ‘Carry On’ in its title.

Funniest moment: When told that Arab men aren’t allowed to enter their own harem tent to see the women, Bo West says, “What’s the good of having them all? It’s like playing cricket with no bails. There’s nothing to knock off.”

The Big 10:

* Jim Dale (8) plays Bertram Oliphant ‘Bo’ West.

* Peter Butterworth (4) is Simpson, West’s gentleman’s gentleman who also joins the Foreign Legion. He gets some cross-dressing to do.

* Joan Sims (9) is terrific as Zig-Zig, a fiery, sultry, exotic local woman. “I have a good ass, no?” she asks after giving Sgt Nocker a lift on her donkey.

* Bernard Bresslaw (3) plays another lazy ethnic stereotype – Sheikh Abdul Abulbul.

* Kenneth Williams (13) uses a severe Nazi-like accent as Commandant Maximillian Burger.

* Charles Hawtrey (13) plays Burger’s second-in-command, Captain Le Pice. The actor originally wanted to play Simpson, thinking (rightly) that it was a funnier part.

Notable others:

* Angela Douglas plays Lady Jane Ponsenby, Bo’s girlfriend who abandons him when he’s accused of cheating at cricket. When she realises he was innocent, she heads off to bring him home from the Foreign Legion – en route, she has a series of hilariously deadpan sexual encounters.

* Peter Gilmore has another small role, playing Humphrey Bagshaw, the guy who accuses West of cheating. Feeling guilty, he then both hangs and shoots himself (but survives).

* Phil Silvers was paid a fortune (£32,000 – five times what Kenneth Williams was earning) and given top billing for playing cheeky rogue Sgt Nocker. He replaced Sid James, who was busy on sitcom George and the Dragon and in the event had a heart attack while Follow That Camel was being filmed. Silvers was a huge star, thanks to playing Sgt Bilko in hit comedy The Phil Silvers Show (1955-1959). He gets to wear his non-period horn-rimmed glasses and deliver dialogue to camera a few times. Contemporary press reports made the probably bogus claim that Woody Allen was also offered the role.

* Julian Holloway appears in a Carry On for a first time, as a cheeky train conductor. “I just want to punch your ticket,” he says to Lady Jane before closing the blinds and doing just that.

* Anita Harris plays a belly dancer – an odd casting choice, seeing how she doesn’t have one.

Top totty: The harem is a sight and a half.

Kenneth Williams says: “I had tea at the Dorchester on Saturday with Phyllis Silvers [sic] and we were joined by Dick Van Dyke and Yul Brynner. I would like to have heard them talk but they didn’t get a chance with PS ranting on and on – ‘my lovely wife and those five beautiful daughters have left me, and I have had this operation on my eye and believe me fellahs I am only half the man that I was – why even one of the waiters here – who remembers me from way back when I did this USO show with Frank Sinatra – he said that he hardly recognised me from the old days…’ etc etc.” – Kenneth Williams to the Hon. George Borwick, 14 June 1967 (The Kenneth Williams Letters, p62)

“We were reduced to watching Carry On Camel with me being remarkably good as the German Commandant and Jim Dale remarkably attractive as Beau [sic]. It was v well written & actually had a tag line! Angela Douglas was super! Really attractive & effectively ironic. Oh! this girl has been endlessly underrated.” – Saturday 21 December 1985 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p732)

Review: An enjoyably daft comedy adventure. There’s rather a lot of racism, though.

Seven mirages out of 10