Carry On Camping (1969)

Camping

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

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