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What a Carry On: Carry On Camping (1969)/ Carry On Again Doctor (1969) ~ Reviews

November 23, 2015

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That’s right. Following the highs of the latest Bond movie’s release – and all the 007 hullabaloo that inevitably accompanied it – there’s only one place for a retro blog like this to go… er, yes, back to the Carry Ons. And, in particular, back to George’s Journal’s ‘Carry On’-athon – a season of re-watching, reviewing, rating and ranking every one of the classic British cinematic comedy saga’s entries in chronological order (it was originally a ‘summer season’; now, admittedly, it’s morphed into more of a ‘summer-cum-autumn-cum-winter season’, but alas, what can you do?).

Anyway, its latest post takes a look back at arguably two of the series’ most iconic efforts, but – memorable in many ways though they are – did 1969’s Carry On Camping and Carry On Again Doctor make for a fitting comic outro for the ’60s and, more to the point, were they actually any good…?

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How it works:

  1. The ‘Carry On-athon’ takes in all 29 cinematically released Carry On films, chronologically from Carry On Sergeant (1958) right through to Carry On Emmannuelle (1978), excluding the compilation-clip-comprising That’s Carry On! (1977) and Carry On Columbus (1992), whose inclusion in the original series might be said to be a bit tenuous
  2. The reviews consist of 10 categories or movie facets, the inclusion of which tend to define a Carry On film as a Carry On film (‘the regulars’; ‘the crumpet’; ‘the setting’; ‘the plot’; ‘sauciness’; ‘cross-dressing’; ‘catchphrases’; ‘character names’; ‘music’ and ‘overall amusement’), each of which are rated out of 10, thus giving the film in question a rating out of 100, which ensures all 29 films can be properly ranked – the ratings are made up of ‘Boggles’, after Sid Boggle, Sid James’s utterly iconic character from Carry On Camping (1969)
  3. There’s also an ‘Adjuster for each film’s rating (up to plus or minus 10 ‘Boggles’) to give as fair as possible a score according to its overall quality as a film.

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Matron! Take them away!

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Directed by: Gerald Thomas; Screenplay by: Talbot Rothwell; Composer: Eric Rogers;
Country: UK; Certificate: PG; Running time: 88 minutes; Released: February 1969

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The regulars

Sid James; Kenneth Williams; Charles Hawtrey; Barbara Windsor;
Hattie Jacques; Joan Sims; Bernard Bresslaw; Peter Butterworth/
semi-regulars: Terry Scott; Dilys Laye (final film); Julian Holloway; Valerie Leon

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The crumpet

Barbara Windsor; Valerie Leon; Sandra Caron; Elizabeth Knight; Gilly Grant; Trisha Noble

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The setting

Contemporary (late ’60s) Britain; sending up campsite holidays

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The plot

Sid and Bernie have so far unsuccessfully managed to get in on with their somewhat uptight girlfriends Sims and Laye, but after an ill-advised visit to a nudist film, Sid hits on the idea of taking them all to the campsite featured in the film, presumably believing the necessity for everyone to get their kit off’ll work as an aphrodisiac. However, on arrival at the ‘Paradise Campsite’, he discovers it’s the wrong one – this one’s a drab dump that requires clothes-on at all times. They’re joined here by always-campsite-holidaying married couple Scott and Betty Marsden – who are putting up a freeloading Hawtrey (much to Scott’s utter chagrin). But things finally look up for Sid, Bernie and Scott when Williams and Jacques arrive with a bunch of young nubile things from the finishing school they run, ‘Chayste Place’, (whom haven’t been able to return home for the school holidays). Worldly to a tee all of them, their leader in amorous antics is inevitably Babs, whom immediately catches Sid’s roving eye…

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Would you like sauce with that?

Of all the later Carry Ons (those from the late ’60s through to the end), Camping possibly hits the balance of sauciness best; in fact, it arguably gets it absolutely spot on – there’s certainly a lot of it, but it’s neither smutty nor overdone. Everybody remembers that scene in which Windsor’s bikini top flies off during morning exercises (“And – fling!”), yet that’s one of several highlights, many of which revolve around splendid double entendres rather than visual gags – the nudist-film-opening especially (“Aren’t you staying to the end?”/ “I’ve seen enough ends already, thank you”).

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Cross-dressing to impress?

Not a jot. But Sid and Bernie do dress up as ‘hippies’ in the climax and, unmissably, the former dons a monk’s habit during a trip to a nearby monastery to arrange a rendezvous with Babs and her friend for later (“Not ’arf, Brother – we’ll be over after lights-out”/ “Bless you, my children”).

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Catchphrase count

‘Yak-yak-yak!’ (James): 10; ‘I only arsked’ (Bresslaw): 1

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Marvellous monikers

Sid Boggle (James); Dr Kenneth Soaper (Williams); Charlie Muggins (Hawtrey);
Miss/ Matron Haggerd (Jacques); Joan Fussey (Sims); Bernie Lugg (Bresslaw);
Mr Fiddler (Butterworth); Peter Potter (Scott); Anthea Meeks (Laye); Harriet Potter (Betty Marsden)

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Plum notes or bum notes?

Easily one of – if not the – most memorable Carry On score, this one boasts Rogers’ ebullient main theme which accompanies all the visual jolliness perfectly, mirroring the on-screen team working at the very top of their games and seemingly enjoying every moment. To be honest, much of the music one associates with the series can be heard in this film, which emphasises just how good the score is.

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Do carry on or titter ye not?

Thanks to its excellent dialogue, Camping is resplendent with as much wit and sass as it is sauce; read: it delivers the goods when it comes to the funnies and more. This is seaside postcard humour writ large on the cinema screen – not least because it’s poking fun at every turn at the typical crap, rainy, (mostly) sexless British holiday in tents. Sid’s in his element in maybe his archetypal Carry On role (look at all those ‘yak-yak-yaks’), as is everyone else, frankly; Scott’s bored husband driven to complete desperation is brilliant. And special mention too should go to Williams and Jacques, as their she-wants-it/ he-definitely-doesn’t repartee here was never equaled – let alone bettered – elsewhere.

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Adjuster: 0

An unadulterated Carry On classic, Camping isn’t just the best recalled – and thus arguably most iconic – but also one of the funniest and most satisfying in the series. It’s certainly neither big nor clever, but is almost perfectly executed from start to finish; the only slight let-down being the naff  ‘hippie rave’ that all the campers (apart from the young girls and Hawtrey’s pervy Mr Muggins) prudishly seek to sabotage. All the same, if this flick doesn’t entice you to get under canvas with the Carry Ons, nothing will.

Total Boggles

89/ 100

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The best bit

There’s so many, truly. But maybe Sid and Bernie’s arrival at the campsite and their opening encounter with the owner, Butterworth’s scrounging farmerly Mr Fiddler, pips all the others (see video clip below).

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The best line

“Let’s face it, we are lumbered with two birds with prohibitions” (James)/
“You mean inhibitions” (Bresslaw)/
“I mean prohibitions – they just won’t allow us” (James)

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Trivia

Camping was such a success on release it actually hit #1 at the UK box-office

At one point, Jacques’ character claims she used to work in a hospital and was in love with a man whom looked just like Williams’ character – this is a direct reference to her role in Doctor (1967) and suggests, for the first and only time in the series, the same character appears in two different movies

As the movie was filmed during the autumn of 1968, the campsite shooting was plagued by bad weather, in which case the location often turned to mud, so had to be spray-painted green to look like grass

Windsor’s friend Fanny is played by Sandra Caron, whom would go on to portray ‘Mumsie’ in The Crystal Maze (1990-95) and is the sister of Alma Cogan, pop star and one-time lover of John Lennon

Amazingly, the BBFC passed Camping for an ‘A’ (now PG) certificate despite the topless nudity at its start, apparently because the footage came from a supposedly non-sexually themed, late ’50s nudist film.

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They told me you were a wonderful surgeon”/
Well, I suppose I am a cut above the rest

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Directed by: Gerald Thomas; Screenplay by: Talbot Rothwell; Composer: Eric Rogers;
Country: UK; Certificate: PG; Running time: 85 minutes; Released: August 1969

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The regulars

Sid James; Kenneth Williams; Charles Hawtrey; Barbara Windsor;
Hattie Jacques; Joan Sims; Jim Dale (final film); Peter Butterworth/
semi-regulars: Patsy Rowlands (first film); Valerie Leon; Peter Gilmore

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The crumpet

Barbara Windsor; Valerie Leon; Shakira Baksh; Yutte Stensgaard; Elizabeth Knight

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The setting

Contemporary (late ’60s) Britain and a fictitious island in the South Pacific;
sending up private health clinics

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The plot

After one too many amorous, clumsy antics, Dr Nookey (Dale) escapes being struck off by reluctantly taking up the offer of Dr Carver (Williams), his boss at Large Hampton Hospital, of a role at the Beatific Islands’ missionary. Finding the place a mosquito-afflicted, rain- and windswept backwater, Nookey soon despairs – not least as he’s left his girlfriend (Windsor) behind in Blighty. Until, that is, he discovers the mission’s randy, happy-go-lucky orderly Gladstone Screwer (James) has concocted a serum enabling the local women to lose weight. So, returning to the UK, Nookey goes into partnership with rich patroness Mrs Moore (Sims) and sets up a weight-loss clinic for women, while the jealous Carver – who’d also wanted Moore to fund a clinic – and underling Dr Stoppidge (Hawtrey) investigate.

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Would you like sauce with that?

With the notion, by 1969, of the sexual revolution pervading the UK’s way of life (indeed, on arriving in Blighty, Sid’s character mentions twice he wants into the ‘permissive society’), this Carry On-er is very aware its in its interest to build on Camping’s work and up the sauce-o-meter. The references to sex – and, among them, not just the puns and innuendos – are franker than ever before (but don’t overstep the mark), while we certainly see more of Babs than ever before, including her bare behind – which, let’s be honest, is something of an appealing elephant in the room when it comes to Again Doctor’s bawdiness.

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Cross dressing to impress?

The transvestism in Again Doctor doesn’t offer us anything we haven’t seen before in the series, but it’s certainly satisfying. And again, not for the first time, it’s good old Charlie Hawtrey who’s on cross-dressing duties, donning a dress, uncomfortable underwear, a wig and feminine specs to pose as the would-be stuffy aristocratic ‘Lady Puddleton’ in order to inspect Nookey’s weight loss clinic at close quarters and, against his wishes, have to brush off Sid’s not-very-fussy colonial-on-the-make and not ‘reveal’ himself as Sims’ benefactor-cum-patient reveals how she likes to sleep in the nuddy.

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Catchphrase count

‘Yak-yak-yak!’ (James): 11; ‘Oh hello!’ (Hawtrey): 2; ‘Corrr!’ (Dale): 2

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Marvellous monikers

Gladstone Screwer (James); Dr Frederick Carver (Williams);
Dr Ernest Stoppidge/ ‘Lady Puddleton’ (Hawtrey); Matron Soaper (Jacques);
Maud ‘Goldie Locks’ Boggins (Barbara Windsor); Dr James Nookey (Dale);
Deidre Filkington-Battermore (Leon); Nurse Willing (Elizabeth Knight); Scrubba (Baksh)

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Plum notes or bum notes?

Compared to the highs of his directly preceding Carry On scores (Doctor, Up The Khyber and Camping), Rogers’ music for Again Doctor is rather perfunctory; it’s perfectly fine, just rather unoriginal. Worthy of note (and again unoriginal, but nicely so) is the fact that, if you listen carefully you’ll hear during Jim Dale’s drunken light-fantastic-tripping at the hospital dance, the band plays notes from the scores of both Cabby (the actor’s debut in the series) and Spying (another Dale-starring effort). Actually, the band’s leader is played by, yes, Eric Rogers himself.

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Do carry on or titter ye not?

With Dale as amorous lead (James’s ‘barbaric’ lothario is much more a curiosity to laugh at than empathise with), it’s his – albeit more aggressive than ever before – skirt-chasing on which most of the laughs hang. And he and the script don’t let the side down at all. Less satisfying (and therefore less funny), though, are his Frank Spencer-esque stunt antics, which come off as rather daft and dated slapstick; still, he’s very game. Granted, Williams, Jacques and Butterworth are bit wasted – although the latter’s brief appearance does result in one of the film’s funniest moments (see video clip below).

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Adjuster: 0

Clearly greenlit off the back of Doctor’s huge success, Again Doctor nonetheless gives a nice spin on the oft-repeated hospital setting by upping sticks to a colonial hellhole and throwing in a private practice theme. A little franker and more modish than earlier contemporary-set efforts, it’s as knowing as the series’ best and, although there’s way too little of Jacques, Dale truly shines in his Carry On swansong.

Total Boggles

80/ 100

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The best bit

It may be a cliché to go for Windsor’s introduction in her almost-not-there-at-all bikini bottoms and pasties, but her interactions with a lusty Dale and a dismissive Jacques is bawdy comedy at is best

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The best line

“Marry me, are you mad? Marry me in the middle of the night?” (Jacques)/
“Oh, don’t worry about that. Where I come from it’s a very simple ceremony … we just make a cut in each other’s left hand, put ’em together, say ‘we are one’ and it’s all legal (James)/
“Oh, I see. Sort of instant wedlock” (Jacques)/
“That’s it. Only out there they call it a bleeding ceremony” (James)/
“Yes, they often call it that here too” (Jacques)

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Trivia

Jim Dale insisted on doing all his own stunts in Again Doctor, the result of which was he broke his arm

The cameo of Steptoe And Son (1962-74) star Wilfred Bramble (very much in the guise of his character in the sitcom, i.e. a ‘dirty old man’), is accompanied by notes from that show’s theme tune, as had been Harry H. Corbett’s appearance – at least at one point – as the lead in 1966’s Screaming!

In 1973 Shakira Baksh married Michael Caine – after he spotted her in a coffee commercial on TV and impressively tracked her down; 42 years later they’re still married.

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Carry On Ranking

(All out of 100; new entries in blue)

1. Carry On.. Up The Khyber (1968) ~ 90

2. Carry On Camping (1969) ~ 89

3. Carry On Cabby (1963) ~ 85

4. Carry On Screaming! (1966) ~ 83

5. Carry On Cowboy (1965) ~ 80

Carry On Again Doctor (1969) ~ 80

7. Carry On Doctor (1967) ~ 79

8. Carry On Cleo (1964) ~ 68

9.  Carry On Nurse (1959) ~ 65

10. Carry On Constable (1960) ~ 63

11. Carry On Spying (1964) ~ 62

12. Carry On Jack (1963) ~ 61

13. Carry On Cruising (1962) ~ 60

14. Follow That Camel (1967) ~ 59

15. Carry On Sergeant (1958) ~ 58

16. Don’t Lose Your Head (1966) ~ 57

17. Carry On Teacher (1959) ~ 56

18. Carry On Regardless (1961) ~ 55

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Keep calm,
the Carry On reviews
will, yes, carry on

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