The Carry On comedy film series is a British institution – made between 1958 and 1978, the films have become TV mainstays, even now filling the bank holiday schedules of assorted satellite channels. Their saucy humour resembled a seaside postcard, and while sneered at by critics, their mostly working class audience lapped them up.
There have been several attempts to revive the series since it fizzled out with Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978, with efforts like Carry On Dallas, Carry On Texas and Carry On London never making it beyond a press launch. In 1992, Carry On Columbus did get made, to the regret of everyone – this woefully unfunny effort attempted to wed traditional Carry On to the new generation of ‘alternative’ comedians, most of whom seemed to think themselves above the material (but not above the pay cheque that came with it). It seemed to be the final nail in the Carry On coffin.
So everyone has been surprised at today’s announcement of a new film, Carry On Doctors, with a follow-up – Carry On Campus – already planned.
The film is being produced by Jonathan Sothcott, who is a controversial figure (to say the least) in the British film industry. He’s better known for churning out a stream of low budget, straight-to-DVD crime and gangster films, aimed very much as the casual shopper in Asda. Few of them have been good, though a couple are better than you might expect. And notably, Sothcott gets films made – he’s probably made more films in the last few years than the rest of the British industry combined (okay, that might be an exaggeration – but he is prolific). And he’s genuinely a fan of the original films – grotty gangster movies might be his bread and butter, but his passion remains Hammer Horror and Carry On. So there is a good chance that this will actually get made, even if it will also probably never see the inside of a cinema.
Unfortunately, our sense of happiness at the thought of a new Carry On is tempered by the news that it will be written by Susan Nickson and Tim Dawson, creator and writer of turgid sit com Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps – best known for interminable re-runs on BBC3 and for being bloody awful. They don’t seem Carry On material at all – do we really think that they’ll be able to embrace the lecherous lack of political correctness and working class appeal that made the series what it was? And if it is ‘updated’ to take on modern concerns, then it’s not really Carry On at all, is it? And then, are there really actors out there who can be the new Sid James, Kenneth Williams or Barbara Windsor? It seems doubtful.
Still, fingers crossed – this could be the start of something good.