No Kidding (film)

No Kidding is a 1960 British comedy film directed by Gerald Thomas featuring Leslie Phillips, Geraldine McEwan and Irene Handl, Noel Purcell and Julia Lockwood.[1] The film is adapted from Verily Anderson's 1958 memoir Beware of Children,[2][3] under which title the film was released in the US.[4] Anderson also wrote the screenplay.

No Kidding
Original British quad poster
Directed byGerald Thomas
Produced byPeter Rogers
Written byVerily Anderson
Robin Estridge
Norman Hudis
StarringLeslie Phillips
Geraldine McEwan
Joan Hickson
Music byBruce Montgomery
CinematographyAlan Hume
Peter Rogers Productions
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors
Release date
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film has been interpreted by film scholar Wheeler Dixon as "a gentle critique of A. S. Neill's Summerhill method of schooling",[5] and Harrison's Reports gave it a good review, calling it an "uneven but well-enacted comedy by the 'Carry On ...' series film-makers.... Unobjectionable for all."[6] Elsewhere it is described as "surprisingly sophisticated fare that also scores a number of interesting points about greed, privilege and class."[7]


David (Leslie Phillips) and Catherine Robinson (Geraldine McEwan) have inherited a large but rundown country house. David suggests they now have room to increase their family beyond their son, but, after a number of his previous business ventures have failed, his wife demurs. However, she does agree to his idea to use the house as a summer holiday home for the children of the wealthy. By advertising in The Times, they attract a number of customers, and hire a matron (June Jago) and a cook (Joan Hickson), but immediately fall foul of a local councillor, Mrs Spicer (Irene Handl), who wants the local authority to compulsorily purchase the house for a project of her own.

The children arrive, and while some are polite, scared and helpful, others are wild, spoilt, and rebellious, including an American brother and sister, and an English girl (Julia Lockwood) who insists (falsely) that she has been maltreated by her parents.

As the children grow increasingly ill-disciplined, the Robinsons and the staff struggle to keep them under control. David advocates a tough approach, while Catherine believes that the children should be allowed their freedom, but they are both undermined by a cook who is drunk most of the time.

After an illicit midnight trip out to a nearby cafe, the children are grounded for two days. Then the Robinsons hear that the local council is sending an inspector, who may close them down if they fail the test. They rally the staff and children, who all behave correctly when the inspector and Mrs Spicer visit.

When the time arrives for the children's parents to come to collect them, David tells them that the children are refusing to leave unless their parents promise to spend more time with them and not send them away to holiday homes and boarding schools. After the parents agree, all the children depart. Impressed by what she has seen, Mrs Spicer says she will no longer oppose the holiday home business. When their son protests at having lost his playmates, Catherine tells David that perhaps they should now have more children of their own.



  1. "No Kidding (1960)". BFI.
  2. Eloise Millar, "Verily Anderson obituary", The Guardian, 29 July 2010.
  3. Janie Hampton, "Verily Anderson: Writer of humorous, optimistic children's books and memoirs", The Independent, 3 August 2010.
  4. "No Kidding (1961)", Release Info, IMDb.
  5. Dixon, Wheeler W. "The Director as Journeyman" (Ralph Thomas interview, 3 February 1995), in Collected Interviews: Voices from Twentieth-Century Cinema, SIU Press, 2001, p. 117.
  6. Beware of Children review, Harrison's Reports, 17 June 1961, p. 96.
  7. "No Kidding (Leslie Phillips)", Studiocanal.
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