Carry On Columbus (1992)

Columbus

In 1492, a Turkish ruler learns of an explorative voyage to the Indies, which might rob him of income from trading taxes. So he sends an agent to infiltrate Christopher Columbus’s crew…

What’s it spoofing? This film came out 500 years after Columbus sailed across the Atlantic and found the American continent. He wasn’t the first European to do so and he never actually set foot on what is now the USA (he bounced around the Caribbean and South America), but the anniversary was still big news. Two other films on this subject came out in the same year as this final Carry On movie: Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise and John Glen’s Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. None of the three did very well.

Funniest moment: Marco warns Chiquita not to fall into the water as there are sharks nearby. “Will they eat me whole?” she asks. “No,” he replies, “I’ve heard they spit that out.”

The Big 10:

* Jim Dale (11) returns for his first Carry On since the 1960s to play Columbus – he did it as a favour to director Gerald Thomas.

Notable others:

* Rik Mayall has a fun, petulant cameo as Abdul the Benevolent, the Sultan of Turkey (“NEEEEEXT!”).

* Nigel Planer, Mayall’s Young Ones co-star, plays his lackey, the Wazir.

* Tony Slattery appears as Baba the Messenger, who trots out the old “I have come hotfoot”/cut-to-his-feet-giving-off-steam joke.

* Burt Kwouk plays a trader called, um, Wang. THIS WAS THE 90s, PEOPLE!

* Sara Crowe might be the best thing in the film: she gets the arch tone perfectly as skilled-but-naive Turkish agent Fatima.

* Martin Clunes plays Martin, a dim customer in Columbus’s map shop.

* Peter Richardson sounds like he’s dubbed all his own dialogue himself for the role of Columbus’s brother, Bart, who draws the maps for his shop but keeps putting naked mermaids on them.

* Alexei Sayle – another Young Ones veteran – plays Achmed, the Sultan’s man in Lisbon, who accompanies Fatima on her mission.

* Bernard Cribbins plays Mordecai Mendoza, a former Jew who’s now a Christian. He has a map of the far west so comes along on the voyage.

* Leslie Phillips is King Ferdinand; it’s the actor’s first Carry On appearance in 32 years. The role was first offered to Frankie Howerd, but he died just days before production began. Bernard Bresslaw was then asked to step in, but he said no.

* June Whitfield is the Queen of Spain. Both Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor turned the part down.

* Maureen Lipman plays Countess Esmerelda, a Spanish noblewoman with two pretty daughters who ends up on the ship by accident. She gets to reprise Joan Sims’s ‘the count’ gag from Don’t Lose Your Head.

* Jon Pertwee’s fourth Carry On cameo is a doddery old man being married off to one of Esmerelda’s daughters.

* Holly Aird and Rebecca Lacey play the daughters, Maria and Chiquita. The former flirts with Burt.

* Lynda Baron pops up for about five seconds as a local woman.

* Richard Wilson plays Don Juan Felipe, an inspector appointed by the king to oversee the voyage.

* Julian Clary plays Don Juan Diego (“I’m Juan too!”), a jailer who’s bored with his job so joins Columbus’s crew.

* Keith Allen appears as the ship’s cook, Pepi the Poisoner.

* Daniel Peacock plays Tonto the Torch, the Andalusia Arsonist.

* Jack Douglas has a role smaller than most of his 1970s characters: Marco the Cereal Killer (so named because he beats his victims to death with a sack of Rice Crispies).

* Don Henderson is likewise barely on screen; he plays the bosun.

* Peter Gilmore’s 11th and obviously final Carry On character is the governor of the Canary Islands.

* Chris Langham, Charles Fleischer and Larry Miller are reasonably funny as the incongruously savvy and civilized natives who Columbus and co find in the Americas. They have New York accents and attitudes.

Top totty: Whatever happened to Sara Crowe?

Review: With so many of the old guard dead or unwilling to return, this restart of the series – after a 14-year gap – introduced a much-hyped ‘new generation’ of talent. It basically boils down to a few people who had been around for a decade by this point and a hotchpotch of jobbing comedy actors. If there’s any significant change to the Carry On formula it’s in the flashes of Monty Python-style surrealism. But there’s still a surfeit of corny jokes, a plethora of cultural stereotypes and far too many cultural stereotypes standing in for corny jokes. It *is* rubbish, there’s no denying that. But it’s no worse than the sludge being produced at the end of the 1970s. Go in with low expectations and it raises a smile occasionally.

Four cigars out of 10

Carry On Emmannuelle (1978)

Emmannuelle

The wife of the French ambassador comes to see him in London and shags around…

What’s it spoofing? The Emmanuelle series of erotic films. So far there’d been Emmanuelle (1974), Emmanuelle 2 (1975) and Goodbye Emmanuelle (1977); another four followed after this spoof. The Carry On team changed the spelling to avoid legal issues. Also influential, one assumes, were the sex-comedy series Confessions of a… (1974-1977) and Adventures of a… (1976-1978).

Funniest moment: Leyland asks hard-of-hearing footman Richmond, “You for coffee?” He replies, “No, thanks. I’m staying here.”

The Big 10:

* Kenneth Williams (26) stays loyal to the series through thick and increasingly thin. He plays Emile Prevert, the French ambassador to the UK. After a parachuting accident, he can no longer adequately pleasure his wife, so she spends her days seeking thrills elsewhere. This was the actor’s final Carry On appearance – he died on 15 April 1988.

* Joan Sims (24) plays Mrs Dangle, the household’s cook. This was similarly Sims’s last Carry On. She died on 27 June 2001.

* Peter Butterworth (16) plays Richmond, the ancient footman. Emmannuelle is also Butterworth’s final work on the series – he died on 16 January 1979, just two months after this film opened.

* Kenneth Connor (17) plays saucy chauffeur Leyland. Again, this is Connor’s Carry On swansong – he died on 28 November 1993.

* The producers had hoped Barbara Windsor would play four distinct roles – each of the women featured in three fantasy flashback scenes, as well as a nurse. Depending on which source you favour, however, either the filming dates clashed with an overseas holiday or Windsor refused to do the film because she thought it was pornographic.

Notable others:

* Suzanne Danielle is the film’s lead – the sex-mad, inhibition-light, worry-free Emmannuelle Prevert. She’s not awful, but it’s a pathetically written role. Her character in Cannon & Ball’s 1982 film The Boys in Blue isn’t much better. No wonder she gave up acting and married a golfer.

* Larry Dann (who’d also been in Carry On Teacher, Carry On Behind and Carry On England) plays Theodore Valentine, a shy guy who has a quickie with Emmannuelle then develops an obsession with her.

* Jack Douglas refrains from any twitching to play the Preverts’ butler, Lyons.

* Beryl Reid plays Theodore’s fussy mother.

* Bruce Boa appears as the US ambassador. In the actor’s near future were turns in Fawlty Towers (“Would you make me a Waldorf Salad?”), The Empire Strikes Back and Octopussy.

* Joan Benham from Upstairs, Downstairs cameos as a woman at a dinner party.

* Steve Plytas – who three years earlier had played drunk chef Kurt in Fawlty Towers (“But he didn’t have Manuel as a model, eh?”) – is an Arabian party guest.

* Claire Davenport plays the large lady Leyland picks up in a pub. Davenport is yet another Fawlty Towers alumnus: she’d been in the episode The Germans in 1975 (“He means *the drill* hasn’t started yet.”).

Top totty: Tricia Newby plays a nurse who gets her tits out in order to excite Kenneth Williams’s libido. The actress also had to flash them in Carry On England.

Kenneth Williams says: “Gerald Thomas [director] gave me lunch. He talked to me about the Carry On Emmannuelle script; it sounds pretty dirty. ‘We really miss old Sid James,’ he said, ‘he was cuddly & warm’ (you could have fooled me) ‘and there are so few like him.’ Then he saw Jimmy Tarbuck at another table and said ‘He’d got that quality!’ & I said ‘Yes! he is cuddly & warm & I think he’s smashing…’” – Monday 19 December 1977 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p553)

“Read the revised Carry On script. If anything, it’s worse than before & the dialogue clumsy, inept and not a good joke anywhere. Peter [Eade, his agent] said ‘They are willing to pay you six thousand but if you want a car they will dock it from your salary.’ I said no thanks, and told him ‘Better settle for 5,750 and have them do the car at their expense.’ I’m not having my money whittled away in such an unforeseeable fashion.” – Thursday 30 March 1978 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p557)

Review: This movie was made in four weeks – four weeks! – and it really shows. It’s a bizarre, witless, unpleasant, aimless folly. And it’s strangely unerotic. Sex is suggested or off-screen, while there’s no more nudity than any of the previous few Carry Ons. (If seeing Kenneths Connor and Williams is states of undress is your thing, though, then this is the film for you.) The big change is that characters talk openly about wanting or having sex. Innocence has become in-your-face. Innuendo has become in-your-end-oh! It’s pathetic. The best thing about the whole enterprise might be the jaunty, Bee Gees-style theme song.

One Concorde out of 10

That’s Carry On! (1977)

Thats

Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor spend some time in a projectionist’s booth, watching clips of old Carry On films…

What’s it spoofing? In 1974, to mark its 50th anniversary, MGM released That’s Entertainment!, a lavish compilation movie made up of dozens of clips from its back catalogue of musicals. A sequel followed in 1976. This is the Carry On team’s version of the concept. MGM had stars such as Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, Debbie Reynolds and James Stewart filming new linking material. We get Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor making gags about needing the loo.

The Big 10:

* Kenneth Williams (25).

* Barbara Windsor (10), in her final Carry On film.

* All the other members of the Big 10 – Sid James, Joan Sims, Jim Dale, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Connor – feature in the archive clips.

Review: The excerpts begin with Don’t Lose Your Head, Follow That Camel and Carry On Doctor – a perceived mid-60s peak? – then jump back to Carry On Sergeant and (mostly) go through the series in order. The running order is fudged to keep the black-and-whites together; Carry On England is ignored; and At Your Convenience and Up the Khyber are held back to provide an ending. It’s good fun for the most part. The clips are well chosen and crisply cut together, while the linking material is *just* the right side of corny. (Having said that, Williams and Windsor seem like people doing clichéd impressions of camp Kenny and busty Babs.)

Eight film cans out of 10

Carry On England (1976)

England

A new commander takes charge of a Second World War army camp and is shocked to discover it’s a mixed-sex outfit…

What’s it spoofing? The film is trading on the popularity of contemporary sitcoms such as Dad’s Army (1968-1977), MASH (1972-1983) and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974-1981), where a military organisation is made up of wisecracking soldiery and frustrated officers.

Funniest moment: Peter Jones’s brigadier keeps making weak puns then turning to his assistant expecting a complimentary laugh.

The Big 10:

* Kenneth Connor (16) plays Captain S. Melly. He’s trying his best, but the material’s just not there.

* Peter Butterworth (15) has little more than a cameo as Major Carstairs.

* Joan Sims (23) is given the underwritten role of Private Ffoukes Sharpe, which was originally offered to The Good Life’s Penelope Keith.

Notable others:

* Peter Jones, as mentioned, plays an army bigwig.

* Johnny Briggs – who was just about to join Coronation Street for a 30-year stint – appears as Melly’s driver.

* Windsor Davies is back from Carry On Behind to play Sergeant Major ‘Tiger’ Bloomer, a shouty character not a million barrack rooms away from his role in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

* Patrick Mower, now of Emmerdale, is the de facto lead of the soldiers: Sergeant Len Able. It’s yet another attempt on the Carry On producers’ part to find a new Jim Dale.

* Judy Geeson plays Sergeant Tilly Willing. Geeson’s sister, Sally, had been in a couple of earlier Carry Ons.

* Jack Douglas plays Bombardier Ready (subtle surnames, aren’t they?) and does some more twitching.

* Melvyn Hayes – yet another It Ain’t Half Hot Mum star – plays Gunner Shorthouse.

* Diane Langton plays the ditzy and busty Alice Easy. The role was meant for Barbara Windsor.

* Patricia Franklin, in her fifth and final Carry On role, gets about three seconds on screen as a cook.

* Julian Holloway appears in a Carry On one last time, playing Major Butcher, the camp’s doctor.

Top totty: As strange as it feels to say – given that she now plays a granny in Hollyoaks – but Diane Langton’s quite cute.

Alternative version: The original edit of Carry On England – which I watched for this review – ran into trouble with the BBFC due to a scene of topless women and a gag punning on the word Fokker. So the cut released in 1976 toned the former down and replaced the latter with a different joke. Both versions are included in the DVD box set, though the milder one is VHS-quality for some reason.

Review: This film proves why so many of the earlier Carry On movies are still popular today: despite their obvious failings, none is as horrendously unloveable as this garbage. There’s barely a single laugh in the whole thing, while none of the regiment make any real impression – they get the screen time but they’re all so forgettable. Add in nonsensical slapstick, lots of post-dubbed dialogue and tacky sound effects, and you get a grotty little film.

Two battledress trousers (that is all) out of 10

Carry On Behind (1975)

Behind

An archaeological team head to some newly found Roman ruins, which are situated next to a caravan site…

What’s it spoofing? Caravanning holidays mostly: the film is more or less a rehash of Carry On Camping. The title comes from the fact you pull a caravan behind your car. (And the word behind means arse.)

Funniest moment: Henry Barnes reveals he’s got £20,000 in the bank. He proudly tells us he’s been scrimping and saving for 10 years. “And then,” he adds, “last year I won the football pools!” How much did he win? “Nineteen thousand, 950 quid.”

The Big 10:

* Kenneth Williams (24) tries to hide his embarrassment as he plays Professor Roland Crump, the lead archaeologist. He gets to trot out his catchphrase – “Stop messing about!” – near the end.

* Bernard Bresslaw (14) appears in a Carry On film for the final time. He plays henpecked holidaying husband Arthur Upmore. Bresslaw died on 11 June 1993.

* Joan Sims (22), the poor cow, has been cast as Patsy Rowland’s mother – despite being less than a year older. Daphne Barnes has a tender subplot with her estranged husband.

* Kenneth Connor (15) gets another fruity and randy old man to play: campsite manager Major Leep (or possibly Leafe: sources vary).

* Peter Butterworth (14) is pretty much reprising his role from Carry On Camping, although the character is now called Henry Barnes.

Notable others:

* Sam Kelly has a small role as a projectionist.

* Alexandra Dane’s cleavage features in the opening scene.

* Donald Hewlett (then a star of TV’s It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) cameos as Crump’s university dean.

* Elke Sommer is top-billed as Anna Vooshka, a foreign professor who’s paired off with Roland Crump on the dig. Her dialogue is full of inappropriately befuddled English – her blissful naivety is probably the film’s funniest element. German film star Sommer was on the downhill slide of her career by this point after a number of fairly high-profile movies.

* Windsor Davies plays the closest thing to a lead character: butcher Fred Ramsden. It’s a part clearly written for Sid James, but he was on tour with a play in Australia. Davies, of course, was also from It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

* Liz Fraser returns to the series after a 19-film absence for the perfunctory role of Fred’s missus, Sylvia.

* Jack Douglas plays Ernie Bragg (the same character name Bernard Bresslaw had in Carry On Matron). He gets trapped in a walk-in fridge then goes on a ‘fishing trip’ with pal Fred that consists of them chatting up women half their age.

* Patsy Rowlands plays Linda, Arthur’s wife.

* Ian Lavender from Dad’s Army plays Joe Baxter, a guy on a caravan holiday with his wife and their enormous dog.

* Patricia Franklin is Ernie’s wife.

* Sherie Hewson and Carol Hawkins play Carol and Sandra, a pair of backpackers who Fred and Ernie try it on with.

* George Layton – another It Ain’t Half Hot Mum alumnus and star of sitcom Doctor in the House and its sequels – cameos as a hospital doctor.

Top totty: Alexandra Dane again.

Kenneth Williams says: “Read the Carry On Behind script. It is the worst I’ve ever read. The part for me, Roland Crump, is small, it is unfunny, and is mostly concerned with heavily contrived slapstick. Don’t know why on earth they offer it to me.” – Wednesday 22 January 1975 (The Kenneth Williams Diaries, p487)

Review: The established team is falling apart now. Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques and Sid James have all gone, while a new generation of actors – mostly from contemporary sitcoms – has been drafted in. The film is a blatant attempt to repeat the success of Carry On Camping, but we’re really in the fag end of the series now. Dave Freeman’s script has a tiresome ‘Is that good enough?’ feel about it. This is limp, boring and witless nonsense.

Four strippers out of 10

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

Carry On Dick (1974)

Dick

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.

Notable others:

* 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

Carry On Christmas (TV special, ITV, 24 December 1973)

christmas1973

A department-store Santa links various sketches about historical Christmases…

What’s it spoofing? Father Christmas, cavemen, 18th-century house parties, the First World War trenches, ballet and Robin Hood.

Funniest moment: Jack Douglas sings a song in the Sherwood Forest skit and for a moment you think the final line of a verse will end with ‘fuck’.

The cast:

* Sid James: Sid Belcher (Santa), Seed Pod, Sir Henry, Sergeant Ball and Robin Hood

* Joan Sims: Mother, Senna Pod, Bishop’s wife, Adelle, Salvation Army woman, Maid Marian and traffic warden

* Barbara Windsor: Virginia, Crompet, Lady Francis and Fifi

* Kenneth Connor: Shop manager, Anthro Pod, the Bishop, Private Parkin and Will Scarlett

* Bernard Bresslaw: Pea Pod, camp aristocrat, darts player, Captain Ffingburgh, Much and policeman

* Jack Douglas: Carol singer, Crapper, German soldier and ballad singer

* Peter Butterworth: Carol singer, old man, darts player, German soldier, Friar Tuck

* Laraine Humphreys: Bed customer

* Julian Holloway: Captain Rose

Top totty: Barbara Windsor.

Review: A final lame TV special. It’s full of atrocious jokes – some stolen from Carry On Cleo, Don’t Lose Your Head and Carry On Abroad. In a scene with Barbara Windsor playing a 13-year-old girl, it also contains comedy paedophilia. Flabby, forgettable and painfully unfunny.

Two fake beards out of 10

Carry On Girls (1973)

Girls

In an attempt to liven up a depressed town, a beauty pageant is held – but a local contingent of feminists are intent on sabotaging it…

What’s it spoofing? The film was cashing in on the publicity surrounding disruption at the 1970 Miss World event, when feminist protesters threw flour bombs around. (The original planned title for the film was Carry On Beauty Queens.)

Funniest moment: The town’s mayor visits a hospital to unveil a commemorative plaque. However, as it’s on the wall of the nursery, he has to whisper his speech.

The Big 10:

* Sid James (18) plays Sidney Fiddler, the councillor who proposes and runs the beauty contest. And revels in it. (The character has the same surname as Peter Butterworth’s character in Carry On Camping.)

* Kenneth Connor (13) is the mayor, Frederick Bumble.

* Joan Sims (20) plays Connie Philpotts. She runs the hotel where – to her chagrin – all the contestants stay gratis, and has an on/off relationship with Sid.

* Peter Butterworth (12) has another role that oddly preempts a Fawlty Towers character – after his Manuel-like Pepe in Carry On Abroad, here he plays the Admiral, a befuddled hotel resident. He’s a lot more saucy than FT’s Major, admittedly.

* Bernard Bresslaw (12) plays Peter Potter, a PR expert called in by Sid to help promote the pageant. Later on, in order to raise the event’s profile, he’s talked into masquerading as a female contestant so he can then be exposed before the press. (Had writer Talbot Rothwell recently seen Carry On Camping again? Bresslaw’s character has the exact same name as Terry Scott’s from that earlier movie.)

* Barbara Windsor (8) plays Hope Springs (real name: Muriel Boggs, which is noticeably close to her character’s real name in Carry On Again Doctor: Maude Boggins!). She rides in on a motorbike with ‘Miss Easy Rider’ emblazoned on her leather jacket, then has a feud with rival contestant Dawn, which (ahem) climaxes with the two brawling in bikinis. There’s no need to watch the exploitative fight, so whatever you do don’t click on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5fIvx6uQ0s

Notable others:

* June Whitfield plays council member Augusta Prodworthy, who’s the leader of the town’s feminist contingent. The character’s surname probably gives you some idea of the script’s equality credentials. Whitfield uses a light northern accent and is very good.

* Arnold Ridley from Dad’s Army cameos as a sleepy alderman.

* Jack Douglas has his biggest Carry On role yet: hotel doorman William, who does a bit of twitching now and again.

* Joan Hickson is a hotel guest who has a silly, cut-out-able subplot about her knickers going missing.

* Valerie Leon plays Peter’s fiancée, Paula Perkins. She has tight hair, glasses and a humourless demeanour, and objects to her husband’s role in the beauty pageant – that is, until she glams up and takes part herself. All of Leon’s dialogue was dubbed by June Whitfield, but no one now seems to remember why.

* Robin Askwith – very close to starting his four-film run as nympho Timothy Lea in the Confessions of a… movies – plays Prodworthy’s son, Larry, who’s a photographer.

* Patsy Rowlands is hilarious as Mildred, the mayor’s couldn’t-give-a-fuck wife. Bored with him, she soon joins the protestor’s cause. Her initiation into the gang involves burning her bra. Biting satire, there.

* Margaret Nolan plays Dawn Brakes, the stunningly womanly contestant who has that filthy, censors-baiting fight with Hope Springs. She later wants some nudie pictures done, so employs a very nervous Larry.

* Wendy Richard is Isa Downes, one of the other contestants who Sid enjoys measuring up.

* Patricia Franklin plays Rosemary, a forthright member of the feminist group. She wears a tie and there’s a not-so-sly joke about her being a lesbian.

* Brenda Cowling – later Mrs Lipton in You Rang, M’Lord? – has a small role as a hospital matron. It was too small to offer to Hattie Jacques, presumably.

* Jimmy Logan returns from Carry On Abroad for a role surely meant originally for now-out-of-favour Charles Hawtrey. Camp TV producer Cecil Gaybody has a Louie Spence lisp.

* Sally Geeson’s in a scene or two as Gaybody’s assistant.

* Bill Pertwee plays a fire chief.

Top totty: I may as well have called this category The Margaret Nolan Award.

Kenneth Williams says: “I have written a letter to [Gerald] Thomas withdrawing from [Carry On Girls] in March because I know the energy for this play [My Fat Friend] MUST be conserved.” – Kenneth Williams to Michael Codron, 7 January 1973 (The Kenneth Williams Letters, p173)

Review: The series returns to Brighton only a couple of years after Carry On At Your Convenience filmed there. Now it’s standing in for Fircombe, the seaside town they forgot to close down. This movie is the epitome (or nadir, if you prefer) of Carry On’s dirty-old-man-ism. There’s a lot of PG flesh on show, while the sexual politics is frankly an embarrassment. And yet… The film is a lot of fun in an undemanding, Sunday-afternoon-on-ITV way.

Seven donkeys out of 10

Carry On Christmas (or Carry On Stuffing) (TV special, ITV, 20 December 1972)

Christmas1972

A group of friends – the Pudding Club – relate various stories while having a Christmas meal…

What’s it spoofing? Nineteenth-century dinner parties, the Adam and Eve myth, the colonial era, Elizabethan chamber music and eighteenth-century folk tale Aladdin.

Funniest moment: Hattie Jacques’s Fairy Queen makes it clear she doesn’t think much of her dialogue in the Aladdin skit.

The cast: Charles Hawtrey was originally cast in this but – given the absence of Sid James – demanded top billing. It was refused, so he dropped out at the 11th hour and never worked for the Carry On team again. His roles were split between Norman Rossington and Brian Oulton.

* Peter Butterworth: Sir Francis Fiddler, Captain Dripping, Lieutenant Trembler and Hole in One

* Kenneth Connor: Sir Henry, Lieutenant Bangem and Hanky Poo

* Barbara Windsor: Eve, Virginia, Maid and Aladdin

* Joan Sims: Lady Rhoda Cockhorse, Mother, Esmeralda and Princess YoYo

* Hattie Jacques: Miss Molly Coddle, Lady Vera, Harriet and The Good Fairy

* Jack Douglas: Mr Perkin, Adam, Tomkins, Ringworm and King of the Underworld

* Valerie Leon: Serving Wench

* Norman Rossington: General Sir Ffingham Clodhopper and Genie

* Brian Oulton: Oriental Orator

* Billy Cornelius: Waiter

* Valeria Stanton: Demon King’s Vision

Top totty: Valerie Leon and her French-maid sexiness.

Review: This feeble TV special is another sketch show – all the skits are of a historical nature, all are very silly, and most go on far too long. One of them, which is set in Africa, also plainly nicks gags from Carry On Up The Jungle and Carry On… Up The Khyber. It’s not clear if this is the equivalent of a band playing their old hits again or whether it’s assumed the audience will have forgotten the jokes. Maybe the most interesting thing about the show is the use of then-state-of-the-art video effects – we get speeded-up footage, shots played backwards and primitive green-screen composites. It’s quite charming just how much it’s all dated.

Four Hampton Courts out of 10