We’re big, unashamed and unironic fans of the Carry On films here at The Reprobate, but the news that the series is about to be revived doesn’t really fill us with joy. We’ve heard these stories almost since the series bit the dust in 1978 with the lamentable Carry On Emmannuelle, with assorted films that were allegedly on the verge of production – complete with cast photo calls – only for the likes of Carry On Dallas, Carry On Texas and Carry On London to then never make it past the press hype stage. Only Carry On Columbus, in 1992, made it to production, and the less said about that misguided mess the better.
Most recently, in 2016, British gangster film producer Jonathan Sothcott announced Carry On Doctors and Carry On Campus as the opening salvos in a new series – to star Sheridan Smith and be written by the people behind Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, which made anyone with a smattering of taste swallow hard. A year later, Sothcott was saying “I wasted so much time and energy on that fool’s errand. I’ve never come across so much avarice and desperation on a film project. It’s an utter mess and it’s take a better man than me to much that amount of water uphill.”
The latest person to lay claim to the ‘better man’ status is 72-year-old Brian Baker, who has apparently spent over half a million buying the rights to Carry On merchandise and apparently has sold enough of this tat – God knows what and to who – to raise the money to finance not one but three new films. He is, at least, in a better position than most by actually owning the rights, having successfully battled against ITV, who owned the Carry On name – a court ruling has said that the trademark had become invalid through non-use, though confusingly, ITV claim to have licensed Baker the name back in 2016. When Sothcott was planning his series. And Baker’s Carry On Films Ltd was incorporated back in 2003, though presumably this was the name used for the merchandise.
In any case, Baker – who does not appear to have made a film before – has promised to revive the old-school, bawdy and un-PC Carry On humour, which might be a tough sell to both performers and distributors in these po-faced times. I’m not sure there’s a big paying audience for this stuff any more either. But we shall see. I’m not holding my breath that anything will actually be made, or that if by some miracle it is, that it will be any good. But you never know, and we wish Mr Baker the best of luck with his mad folly.