A new police force called the Bow Street Runners is formed to help combat a spate of highwaymen in 18th-century England – but little do they know that the infamous Dick Turpin is masquerading as the local reverend…
What’s it spoofing? Dick Turpin (1705-1739), a highwayman whose fame only rose after his death in many embellished tellings of his life story.
Funniest moment: Rev Flasher’s sermon contains a moment where he asks if any man present can say they haven’t committed adultery. If so, they are free to leave. One man gets up and makes for the door. Flasher praises him, but the man replies, “No, Reverend. I’ve just remembered where I left my hat last night!”
The Big 10:
* Sid James (19) plays Dick Turpin, who is posing as Reverend Flasher while conducting his crime wave. James gives each persona a different feel, which is more acting than he usually provides. This was his final Carry On movie. He died on 26 April 1976, after a heart attack on stage in Sunderland.
* Bernard Bresslaw (13) is pretty poor as Sir Roger Daley, the boss of the Bow Street Runners.
* Kenneth Williams (23) plays lead agent Captain Desmond Fancey. It’s remarkable how the actor was able to be both rubbish and entertaining at the same time.
* Barbara Windsor (9) is Harriet, one of Turpin’s sidekicks who’s similarly hiding in plain sight in the village. We get yet another flash of her tits.
* Peter Butterworth (13) plays Tom ‘Doc’ Scholl, Turpin’s other hanger-on. He and Sid James have to drag up at one point.
* Joan Sims (21) plays the pretending-to-be-French Madame Desiree (which is the same character name the actress had in Don’t Lose Your Head). She has a troupe of women who put on shows for local punters.
* Hattie Jacques (14) appears in a Carry On film for the final time. She plays Flasher’s housekeeper, Martha Hoggett. Jacques died on 6 October 1980.
* Kenneth Connor (14) hams it up as the local constable, who’s a randy old goat.
* Jack Douglas plays agent Jock Strap.
* Margaret Nolan appears with little dialogue as Sir Roger’s wife, who is forced to strip off a couple of times by highwaymen.
* Sam Kelly cameos as Sir Roger’s coach driver.
* John Clive’s back from Carry On Abroad to play a tailor.
* Bill Maynard plays a barman (he’s the guy mentioned in the Funniest Moment section above).
* Patrick Durkin, who later lost a drinking contest with Karen Allen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, is one of the locals.
* Patsy Rowlands appears briefly as Mrs Giles, a villager at the jumble sale.
Top totty: Margaret Nolan.
Kenneth Williams says: “I walked to Peter Eade [his agent] and read the script of Carry On Dick – said I’d do it if they cut the stocks scene (where I’m pelted with rubbish) and pay the salary after the tax period, ie April 6th. The script is utterly banal. It is incredible that human minds can put such muck on to paper.” – Thursday 31 January 1974 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p466)
“To see Carry On Dick (trade show) at Studio One in a downpour of rain. Met Peter Butterworth & sat with him. It was diabolical. The pace is deadly… at one point I thought it looked like everyone was ill or something.” – Wednesday 10 July 1974 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p476)
Review: A comedy without any real laughs – unless you’re endlessly amused by puns on the word dick – this film actually works okay when it’s being a low-key historical romp. But when it tries for silly or overtly humorous, it falls flat. On the plus side, a lot of effort has clearly gone into the sets, props and costumes, while the lighting is probably the best we’ve seen in the series since the mid-60s.
Five bell-ringing ropes out of 10