Carry On (franchise)

The Carry On series primarily consists of 31 British comedy motion pictures (1958–1978 and 1992), four Christmas specials, a television series of thirteen episodes, and three West End and provincial stage plays. The films' humour was in the British comic tradition of the music hall and bawdy seaside postcards. Producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas drew on a regular group of actors, the Carry On team, that included Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Kenneth Connor, Peter Butterworth, Hattie Jacques, Terry Scott, Bernard Bresslaw, Barbara Windsor, Jack Douglas, and Jim Dale.

Carry On
Directed byGerald Thomas
Produced byPeter Rogers
Written byNorman Hudis (1958–1962)
Talbot Rothwell (1963–1974)
StarringKenneth Williams
Joan Sims
Charles Hawtrey
Sid James
Kenneth Connor
Peter Butterworth
Bernard Bresslaw
Hattie Jacques
Jim Dale
Marianne Stone
Barbara Windsor
Patsy Rowlands
Jack Douglas
Terry Scott
June Whitfield
Leslie Phillips
And The Rest...
Music byBruce Montgomery (1958–1962)
Eric Rogers (1963–1975, 1977-1978)
Max Harris (1976)
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated
The Rank Organisation
United International Pictures
Release date
1958–1978, 1992
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Carry On series contains the largest number of films of any British series, and it is the second longest continually running UK film series, although with a fourteen-year break (1978–1992) between the 30th and 31st entries. (The James Bond film series being the longest-running, though with not as many films as of 2019).

Anglo Amalgamated Film Distributors Ltd produced twelve films (1958–1966), the Rank Organisation made eighteen (1966–1978) and United International Pictures made just one (1992).

Producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas made all 31 films, usually on time and to a strict budget, and often employed the same crew. Between 1958 and 1992, the series employed seven writers, most often Norman Hudis (1958–1962) and Talbot Rothwell (1963–1974). In between the films, Rogers and Thomas produced four Christmas specials in 1969, 1970, 1972, and 1973, a thirteen/episode television series in 1975, and various West End stage shows which later toured the regions.

All the films were made at Pinewood Studios near Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. Budgetary constraints meant that a large proportion of the location filming was undertaken close to the studios in and around south Buckinghamshire, including areas of Berkshire and Middlesex. However, by the late 1960s (at the height of the series' success) more ambitious plots occasionally necessitated locations further afield, which included Snowdonia National Park, Wales (with the foot of Mount Snowdon standing in for the Khyber Pass in Carry On Up the Khyber), and the beaches of the Sussex coast doubling as Saharan sand dunes in Follow That Camel.


Carry On Sergeant (1958) is about a group of recruits doing National Service; its title, the command commonly issued by army officers to their sergeants in the course of their routine duties, was in keeping with its setting. The film was sufficiently successful to inspire a similar venture, again focusing on an established and respected profession in Carry On Nurse. When that too was successful, further forays with Carry On Teacher and Carry On Constable established the series. This initial 'pattern' was broken with the fifth film in 1961, Carry On Regardless, but it still followed a similar plot to that of many of the early films—a small group of misfit newcomers to a job make comic mistakes, but come together to succeed in the end.

The remainder of the series developed with increased use of the British comic traditions of music hall and bawdy seaside postcards. Many titles parodied more serious films, such as their tongue-in-cheek homages to James Bond (Spying), westerns (Cowboy), and Hammer horror films (Screaming!). The most impressive of these was Carry On Cleo (1964), after the Burton and Taylor epic Cleopatra (1963), where the budget-conscious Carry On team made full use of some impressive sets which had been intended for that film. Carry On Emmannuelle, inspired by the soft-porn Emmanuelle, brought to an end the original 'run'.

The stock-in-trade of Carry On humour was innuendo and the sending-up of British institutions and customs, such as the National Health Service (Nurse, Doctor, Again Doctor, Matron and the proposed Again Nurse), the monarchy (Henry), the Empire (Up the Khyber), the armed forces (Sergeant, England, Jack and the proposed Flying and Escaping), the police (Constable) and the trade unions (At Your Convenience) as well as camping (Camping), foreign holidays (Cruising, Abroad), beauty contests (Girls), caravan holidays (Behind), and the education system (Teacher) amongst others. Although the films were very often panned by critics, they mostly proved very popular with audiences.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] In 2007, the pun "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me", spoken by Kenneth Williams (playing Julius Caesar) in Carry on Cleo, was voted the funniest one-line joke in film history.[8]

A film had appeared in 1957 under the title Carry On Admiral; although this was a comedy in similar vein (and even featured Joan Sims in the cast) it has no connection to the Carry On series itself. The much earlier 1937 film Carry On London is also unrelated (though it coincidentally starred future Carry On performer Eric Barker).

The cast were poorly paid—around £5,000 per film for a principal performer.[9] In his diaries, Kenneth Williams lamented this, and criticised several of the movies despite his declared fondness for the series as a whole.[10] Peter Rogers, the series' producer, acknowledged: "Kenneth was worth taking care of, because while he cost very little [...] he made a very great deal of money for the franchise."[9]



Carry On films

Unmade films

Several other films were planned, scripted (or partly scripted) or entered pre-production before being abandoned:[11][12][13]

  • What a Carry On..., 1961
  • Carry On Smoking, 1961. The story revolved around a fire station, and various attempts to train a bungling group of new recruits.
  • Carry On Spaceman, 1961 and again in 1962. See section below.
  • Carry On Flying, 1962. Scripted by Norman Hudis, about a group of RAF recruits. It got as far as pre-production before being abandoned. Jim Dale was to have a starring role.
  • Carry On Robin, 1965. A planned spoof of Robin Hood starring the "Carry On regulars" was outlined by Rogers and registered with the British Film Producers Association but never pursued.[14]
  • Carry On Again Nurse, 1967 and two other attempts. See section below .
  • Carry On Escaping, 1973. Scripted by Talbot Rothwell, a spoof of World War II escape films. The complete script is included in the book The Complete A-Z of Everything Carry On.
  • Carry on Dallas, 1980. A planned spoof of the popular US series Dallas. A script was written and casting offers made to Williams, Connor, Douglas, Sims, Hawtrey and Dale. The production was abandoned when Lorimar Productions demanded a royalty fee of 20 times the total production budget.
  • Carry On Down Under, 1981. Gerald Thomas did some location scouting while on holiday in Australia and spoke to the Australian Film Commission. The production was abandoned when finance fell through. A complete script was written by Vince Powell and is included in the book Fifty Years of Carry On.

Carry On Spaceman

Carry On Spaceman was to be released shortly after Carry On Regardless, in 1961. It was scripted by Norman Hudis, and was to satirise interests in the Space Race from the Western world's point of view. The cast was to consist of three would-be astronauts who constantly bungled on their training and their mission into outer space – most likely the trio would have been played by the trinity of Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, and Leslie Phillips that had been established in Carry On Constable.

Attempts to revive Carry On Spaceman in 1962 under Denis Gifford, again by Hudis, failed, and the project was subsequently abandoned.

Carry On Again Nurse

Three scripts were written for an intended sub-sequel to the successful Carry On Nurse, the second instalment of the Carry On series. The first film was renamed, while the other two were never made.

The first intended Carry On Again Nurse was made in 1967, but released as Carry On Doctor.[14] Carry On Nurse was alluded to twice in Carry On Doctor, firstly with the sub-titles (one reading Nurse Carries On Again and Death of a Daffodil), and again in a later scene with Frankie Howerd commenting on a vase of daffodils in his ward.

A second attempt at Carry On Again Nurse came in 1979, after the series left Rank Films and moved to Hemdale. A completed script had been written by George Layton[15] and Jonathan Lynn in 1977. It was cancelled due to the financial loss of Carry On Emmannuelle.

The final attempt to create Carry On Again Nurse came in 1988, with a script written by Norman Hudis.[16] It was to revolve around a hospital set for closure, and set to star original actors Barbara Windsor, Jack Douglas, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Connor and Joan Sims, with Sims filling in the role of matron that was previously held by Hattie Jacques. The end of the film was going to be a tribute to Jacques, with Sims turning around a photograph of the actress and asking "Well, did I do alright?" (the script is included in the book The Lost Carry Ons). Production was scheduled to begin in June 1988, but the deaths of Williams two months previously, followed by that of Hawtrey six months later - combined with a budget of £1.5 million, which was deemed too expensive - proved to be the end of the film and it was cancelled.[17]

Carry On London

A new film, Carry On London, was announced in 2003 by producer Peter Rogers and producer James Black but remained in pre-production well into 2008. The script was signed off by the production company in late March 2008, and "centred on a limousine company ferrying celebrities to an awards show."[18] The film had several false starts, with the producers and cast changing extensively over time. Only the rather unknown Welsh actress Jynine James remained a consistent name from 2003 to 2008.[19] Danniella Westbrook, David Jason, Shaun Williamson and Burt Reynolds were also once attached to the project. In May 2006 it was announced Vinnie Jones and Shane Richie were to star in the film, which was to be directed by Peter Richardson, though Ed Bye later replaced him as the named director.[20] At the 50th anniversary party held at Pinewood Studios in March 2008, Peter Rogers confirmed that he was planning a series of Carry On films after London, subject to the success of the first.

In early 2009, Carry On London or Carry On Bananas was once again 'back on', with Charlie Higson attached as director, and a different more modern cast list involving Paul O'Grady (as the acidic Kenneth Williamsesque character), Jynine James, Lenny Henry, Justin Lee Collins, Jennifer Ellison (as the saucy Barbara Windsor type), Liza Tarbuck (Hattie Jacques), Meera Syal, James Dreyfus, and Frank Skinner (filling in the Sid James role). Despite new media interest and sets being constructed at Pinewood film studios, the film once again was put on hold, and the project was shelved after the death of Peter Rogers in April 2009.[21]


In May 2016, producer Jonathan Sothcott of Hereford Films announced plans for a new series of Carry On films, beginning with Carry On Doctors and Carry On Campus. As of early 2017, no news had surfaced on if the planned reboot is still going ahead. On 12 April 2017, Sothcott confirmed to thehollywoodnews that he was no longer involved with the film series.[22][23][24] As of September 2019, three Carry On films are set to be filmed back-to-back, after Brian Baker won the rights to the movies following a legal battle with ITV earlier that year. Production on the new films is set for the spring of 2020. [25]


The characters and comedy style of the Carry On film series were adapted to a television series titled Carry On Laughing, and several Christmas specials.

Stage shows


In 1971, Music for Pleasure released a long playing record, Oh! What a Carry On! (MFP MONO 1416), featuring songs performed by Kenneth Williams, Jim Dale, Kenneth Connor, Frankie Howerd, Bernard Bresslaw, Joan Sims, Barbara Windsor, and Dora Bryan.


A 50-minute television documentary, What's a Carry On?, was made in 1998 for the 40th anniversary of the first film. It included archive clips, out-takes and interviews with surviving cast members. It was included as an extra on the DVD release of Carry On Emmannuelle.

In November 2003 a T.V. series called Popcorn ran a Carry On Special documentary and interviews on S4C featuring Jynine James. This was in respect of a new Carry On film being produced by Peter Rogers called Carry On London. It featured interviews and clips of the past Carry On films and went into detail about the new film and cast. However, despite the script being signed off and sets constructed at Pinewood film studios, the project was shelved, owing to the untimely death of producer Peter Rogers.

A two-hour radio documentary Carry On Forever!, presented by Leslie Phillips, was broadcast in two parts on BBC Radio 2 on 19 & 20 July of 2010. A three-part television retrospective with the same title, narrated by Martin Clunes, was shown on ITV3 in the UK over the Easter of 2015.

Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes
Carry On Spying 83% (6 reviews)[26]
Carry On Screaming 67% (6 reviews)[27]
Carry On Camping 40% (5 reviews)[28]

References in other media

The success of the Carry On series occasionally led to affectionate parodies of the series by other contemporary comedians:

  • In The Spitting Image Book, released in 1985, there is a reference to a fictitious made-for-TV film entitled Carry On Up the Rectum, satirising the transparency of the puns used for Carry On Up the Khyber and possibly Carry On Up the Jungle.[29]
  • Harry Enfield's mockumentary Norbert Smith: A Life (1989) includes a clip from an imagined Carry On film, Carry On Banging (a parody of the more risque approach of the later Carry On films, such as Carry On Dick and Carry On Emmannuelle). The setting is the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp of the 1980s. Three genuine Carry On actors appear in the spoof: Barbara Windsor, Jack Douglas and Kenneth Connor.[12]
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look features the sketch "Bawdy 1970s Hospital", which portrays a stereotypical Carry On-esque hospital with frequent use of double entendre, except by one doctor who has trouble fitting in as he comes out with simple obscenity, unable to understand the distinction.
  • A "flash frame" of the end shot of Carry On Cowboy is used in series two of The Young Ones.
  • In Tom Holt's eighth Portable Door novel When It's a Jar (2013) the Carrion franchise offers a "uniquely quirky blend of spatterfest zombie horror and traditional British slapstick-and-innuendo comedy" with titles such as Carrion Nursing, Carrion Camping and Carrion Up the Khyber.[30]
  • In The Goodies' book The Making of the Goodies Disaster Movie, the trio visit the set of Carry On Christ in order to get advice from the Carry On team, while they are filming a scene relating to 'The Feeding of the Five Thousand', with some of the cast noted as Kenneth Williams playing 'Pontius Pilate', Charles Hawtrey as 'A Wise Virgin', Barbara Windsor as 'Not a Wise Virgin' and Hattie Jacques as 'The Five Thousand'.[31]

Home video

The Carry On film series has had numerous individual releases on VHS, and a number of VHSs were released in an eighteen VHS box-set on 1 September 2003.[32]

The film series was first released as a DVD box-set on 1 September 2008, by ITV Studios Home Entertainment.[33] Five years later 7 October 2013 it was re-released with smaller packaging.[34] All the movies contained in the collection are also available to buy individually.

Since 2013, StudioCanal has begun to release a number of the Carry On films on Blu-ray, starting with Carry On Screaming! (21 October 2013), Carry On Cleo (5 May 2014), Carry On Cowboy (2 June 2014) and Carry On Jack (7 July 2014).[35][36][37][38]



  1. "More than just a Carry On?". BBC News. 25 July 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  2. Peter Bradshaw (15 May 2004). "What a Carry On!". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  3. Cook, William (18 March 2008). "Film Blog: Stop Carry Ons". London: Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  4. Tanya Gold (28 September 2007). "Infamy? They've got it". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  5. "The possibility of happiness..." 1 October 2001. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  6. TimesOnline: A 50th anniversary appreciation of the Carry On movie, 29 July 2008 Archived 16 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. White, Jim (17 March 2008). "A British comedy classic that could carry on". London: Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  8. "Carry On quip tops one-liner poll". BBC News. 4 April 2007.
  9. Kenneth Williams Unseen by Wes Butters and Russell Davies, HarperCollins 2008
  10. The Kenneth Williams Diaries edited by Russell Davies, HarperCollins 1993
  11. Morris Bright and Robert Ross (2000). The Lost Carry Ons: Scenes That Never Made it to the Screen. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-990-7.
  12. Robert Ross (2002). The Carry on Companion. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-8771-2.
  13. Richard Webber (2005). The Complete A-Z of Everything Carry On. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-718223-6.
  14. Richard Webber (2009). Fifty Years of Carry On. Random House. p. 188. ISBN 0099490072.
  15. George Layton. "Welcome to George Layton`s Official Website". Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  16. Webber, Richard (31 March 2011). "Fifty Years Of Carry On". Random House. p. 186. Retrieved 23 October 2018 via Google Books.
  17. "Joan Sims". IMDb.
  18. Hassan, Genevieve (13 March 2008). "Carry On script gets green light". BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  19. "From Convent to Carry On". BBC News. 10 September 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  20. "Vinnie Jones in new Carry On film". BBC. 16 May 2006. Retrieved 21 October 2007.
  21. "'Carry On' producer Rogers dies", BBC News, 15 April 2009
  22. Heath, Paul (12 April 2017). "Exclusive Interview: Jonathan Sothcott for We Still Steal The Old Way".
  23. Barraclough, Leo (16 May 2016). "'Carry On' Comedy Movie Series to Be Revived". Variety. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  24. Ritman, Alex (30 May 2016). "British 'Carry On' Producer at Center of Series of Fraud Allegations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  26. "Carry On Spying (1964)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  27. "Carry On Screaming! (1966)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  28. "Carry On Camping (1969)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  29. The Spitting Image Book – Faber and Faber Ltd, 1985. Pg. 11
  30. Tom Holt (2013). When It's A Jar. Orbit. p. 126. ISBN 9781841497822.
  31. The Making of The Goodies Disaster Movie – Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd., London 1977. (First Sphere Books Ltd., London edition 1978)
  32. "The Carry On Collection – 18 VHS Box Set". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  33. "Carry On – The Ultimate Collection DVD". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  34. "Carry On - The Complete Collection DVD 1958". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  35. "Carry on Screaming Blu-ray 1966". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  36. "Carry On Cleo 1964 Blu-ray". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  37. "Carry On Cowboy 1966 Blu-ray". Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  38. "Carry On Jack 1963 Blu-ray". Retrieved 22 February 2015.


  • Bright, Morris; Ross, Robert (2000). Mr Carry On – The Life & Work of Peter Rogers. London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-55183-6.
  • Davidson, Andy (2012). Carry On Confidential. London: Miwk. ISBN 978-1-908630-01-8.
  • Eastaugh, Kenneth (1978). The Carry On Book. London: David & Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-7403-0.
  • Hibbin, Sally & Nina (1988). What a Carry On. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-55819-4.
  • Hudis, Norman (2008). No Laughing Matter. London: Apex. ISBN 978-1-906358-15-0.
  • Ross, Robert (2002). The Carry On Companion. London: Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8771-8.
  • Ross, Robert (2005). The Carry On Story. London: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-96-X.
  • Rigelsford, Adrian (1996). Carry On Laughing – a celebration. London: Virgin. ISBN 1-85227-554-5.
  • Sheridan, Simon (2011). Keeping the British End Up – Four Decades of Saucy Cinema. London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-0-85768-279-6.
  • Snelgrove, Kevin (2003). The Carry On Book of Statistics. Somerset: KAS Publications. ISBN 0-9544200-0-4.
  • Snelgrove, Kevin (2008). The Official Carry On Facts, Figures and Statistics. Norfolk: Apex Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-906358-09-5.
  • Webber, Richard (2009). 50 Years of Carry On. London: Arrow. ISBN 978-0-09-949007-4.
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