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.
* 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