Carry On Laughing (ITV, 4 January to 7 December 1975)

Laughing

A 13-episode sitcom, shown in two batches in 1975. There’s a pool of recurring actors, but each episode is a different setting…

What’s it spoofing? A whole host of historical eras, styles and fictions – The Prisoner of Zenda (a 1894 novel by Anthony Hope Hawkins), the English Civil War, Queen Elizabeth I, the Norman Conquest, Lord Peter Wimsey (who appeared from 1923 onwards in the stories of Dorothy L Sayers), Upstairs Downstairs (1971-1975) and many more…

Funniest moment: I couldn’t find one.

The cast:

* From the gang of Carry On regulars, we get Sid James (4 episodes), Barbara Windsor (8), Peter Butterworth (9), Joan Sims (11), Kenneth Connor (12), Jack Douglas (12), Hattie Jacques (1), Patsy Rowlands (1) and Bernard Bresslaw (5). Also appearing are Sherie Hewson, Victor Maddern, Diane Langton, Carol Hawkins, Brian Capron, Bernard Holley, Patsy Smart, Melvyn Hayes, Johnny Briggs, John Levene and many more.

Top totty: Barbara Windsor.

Review: Talbot Rothwell, who’d written every Carry On movie since 1963’s Carry On Cabby, retired from the series in 1974. In other words, this pathetic TV sitcom was the first thing made after he left. While no one’s going to suggest Rothwell was the next PG Wodehouse or anything, the quality has now fallen off a cliff. Calling this show’s jokes ‘jokes’ is to misunderstand what the word jokes means. The self-contained episodes often launch straight into the story, with no set-up or storytelling finesse, while they’re full of big, unsubtle, theatrical performances. It’s not even half-arsed.

One spoof of Mr Hudson out of 10

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