Wednesday, 19 January 2011

What a Carry On!


In tribute to the showing tonight on BBC4 of 'Hattie' - the story of Hattie Jacques, here are some Carry On facts:
They are considered quintessentially British – the bawdy honour, the innuendo and the host of famous British faces placed in the most daft, and often ludicrous, situations that the Carry On producers could dream up for each film. The films are so familiar – but did you know….?

Carry On Cleo was filmed on the sets that had been created for the Burton and Taylor epic Cleopatra.

One day Charles Hawtry brought his elderly mother to have tea with the cast at Pinewood Studios. Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims joined them and as usual, Hawtry smoked continuously. The pair noticed a long smouldering tip of ash fall from the cigarette into his mother’s open handbag. Sims shouted, “Charles, your mother’s handbag is on fire!” Without batting an eyelid he threw the cup of tea he was holding into the bag, closed it, and continued with his anecdote.

When filming on location for Carry On Cabbie, Sid James was waiting to shoot a scene, sitting in his fake taxi. An elderly lady climbed in, thinking it was real, and asked to be taken to the station. James drove her there and refused the fare.

In Carry On Sergeant there is a scene where the recruits are made to swing across a water filled, muddy pit on a rope. Every time Bob Monkhouse had to do his shot he slid down the rope and into the mud. It later turned out that Williams had coated the rope with a pound of butter!

In Carry on Teacher there is a scene where the children cover the teacher’s clothes in itching powder. Kenneth Connor bribed the wardrobe girl to ensure Kenneth Williams’ powder was the real stuff!

Joan Sims had a long scene in Carry On Regardless where she had to get drunk – they used real wine when they shot it so there’s no acting involved.

When filming Carry On Follow That Camel the cast were taken to Camber Sands to film the desert scenes. The crew had tried to find a stuffed camel but had no luck so a real one was borrowed from the local zoo. Unfortunately it didn’t like sand and they had to lay planks down for it to walk on.

In Carry On Doctor Kenneth Williams has to fall into a bath of ice cubes. The props men carefully carved plastic blocks to look like the ice but Bernard Bresslaw, who was fed up with Williams’ endless pranks, had the bath filled with the real thing.

Charles Hawtry made his own way to the studios by bus. One day he was walking up the long drive to Pinewood when a Rolls Royce stopped and Sir Laurence Olivier climbed out – he was horrified to find Hawtry didn’t have a car so he had his meet him off the bus each morning.

Carry On Camping was filmed under the most appalling conditions – there was so much rain that the field used for the camp site shots was awash with mud. They sprayed it with green paint to look like grass and tied fake leaves to the trees. All the cast were in foul moods and when they were alone they called the director every name under the sun. However, they had forgotten that Barbara Windsor was wearing a microphone and Gerald Thomas played them back his recording the following day!

Kenneth Williams often amused himself by flashing at fellow actors and studio staff. One day he did his party trick to the elderly tea lady who ignored him and continued serving his cuppa. “One lump or two?” she asked. He was furious and replied, “I don’t take any!” to which she quipped: “And from where I’m standing, you ain’t got none either!”

Gerald Thomas is heard in two of the Carry On’s – as a monster in Carry On Screaming and a bird in Carry On Behind.

When Carry On Up The Khyber was released the studios received a complimentary letter from an old soldier who remarked how wonderful it was to see the old Khyber Pass on the big screen – it had brought back so many memories – it was exactly how he recalled it. The film was shot in Wales!

Hattie Jacques described Sid James as having: “The general appearance of an ancient and dissipated walnut.”

In the very first film, Carry On Sergeant, the actors included Dora Bryan (Roz in Last of the Summer Wine) and Bill Owen (Compo).

Carry On Cabbie introduced Amanda Barrie (Corrie’s Alma) who later played the lead in Carry On Cleo.

Barbara Windsor made her Carry On debut in Carry On Spying in 1964. She appeared in just 9 of the 30 films.

Carry On Screaming features Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served?).

Carry On Doctor (1967) features Penelope Keith (The Good Life), Brian Wilde (Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine) and comedian Frankie Howerd.

Johnny Briggs (Mike Baldwin) appears in several of the films – notably, Carry On Up The Khyber.

Carry On Again Doctor features Shakira Baksh who went onto become Mrs Michael Caine.

Heartbeat’s Bill Maynard, Dad’s Army’s James Beck and Bill Pertwee and entertainer Kenny Lynch are all in Carry On Loving.

Geoffrey Hughes (Eddie Yates) appears in Carry On at Your Convenience whilst Wendy Richard (Are You Being Served? and EastEnders) is in Carry On Matron, as is Bill Kenwright (Corrie’s Gordon Clegg).

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