Carry-On Film Series

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The Carry-On film series is a 30-part series of British comedy films , produced between 1958 and 1978 (with a 1992 latecomer), directed by Gerald Thomas . In German-speaking countries they are best known under the collective title Ist ja irr .


The carry-on films are a mixture of crap , comedy and parody in the tradition of British vaudeville or music hall theatre. They are considered classics of British film comedy (Britcom) , especially from the 1960s and early 1970s. The films were initially produced by Anglo-Amalgamated Productions , later by The Rank Organisation . They were filmed at the famous Pinewood Studios .

Trademarks of the series were, on the one hand, the recurring stars (above all Sidney James , Kenneth Williams , Charles Hawtrey and Joan Sims ), on the other hand, the parody of various film genres ( sandal films in Caesar loves Cleopatra , Hammer horror films in Alarm in the Creepy Castle or westerns in The Brazen Cowboy ). In the early days of the series and later in A Strike Comes Alone , there were still various occupational groups that were targeted (soldiers, doctors, teachers, police officers, sailors, taxi drivers).

Taken as a whole, the carry-on films were the biggest commercial successes of British cinema until the early 1970s; some parts of the series topped the box office ratings of their respective years. The most commercially successful film was 41 Degrees in Love (1959), which even became a hit in the USA. However, the financial success was not shared with the actors.

At the time, the actors increasingly complained about insufficient pay, but remained loyal to the series as a matter of principle. There is a qualifying statement from producer Peter Rogers , who claims that he basically paid exactly the amount that was demanded by the respective agents of the actors. If they had asked for more, he would have paid more because it wasn't his money.

Inspired by the success, similar film series were launched. The most successful of these were the Up films starring Frankie Howerd . They emerged from a television series created by longtime carry-on writer Talbot Rothwell in the early 1970s . Howerd himself had previously played major roles in two carry-on films.

The commercial success of carry-on films lasted until the mid-1970s. The first major flop that did n't even recoup its costs was 1971 A Strike Comes Alone , the last hit at the box office was The Totally Crazy Mummy Scare from 1975 the attempt to revive the series after a 14-year break with Carry on Columbus also failed.


  • The main driving force behind carry-on films was director Gerald Thomas, who wanted to do the same as his brother, director Ralph Thomas . This had begun a long-lived comedy series with Dirk Bogarde in the mid-1950s , the Doktor-Filme , which accompanied Bogarde as a medical student and young doctor through several stations (before he was replaced by Leslie Phillips ). A number of Doctor series cast members also appeared in the carry-on films and vice versa. Gerald Thomas was to surpass his brother Ralph with great success.
  • The screenwriter of the first six carry-on films was Norman Hudis . His scripts were still slow-moving, clearly influenced by the Ealing comedies, which ended the same year the carry-ons began.
  • The breakthrough to anarchic comedy came with Hudis' successor Talbot Rothwell , who - also due to the times - became more direct, evil and frivolous. Rothwell stayed with the series for 20 films, and his departure hastened its decline.
  • All 30 films were produced by Peter Rogers , also known as Mr Carry On and Father of Carry On .
  • The typical film music was written by Eric Rogers , who was not related to Peter and was there from the sixth film to the end (with the exception of the late work Carry on Columbus ).

actors and characters

The main protagonists

In brackets the number of appearances.

  • Kenneth Williams (25) holds the top position of all cast members with 25 appearances in the 30-episode series. The trademarks of this exalted comedian were his nasal voice and the typically flared nostrils. He usually played the dimwitted snob who often finds himself in a position of power, or at least prestige; the characters portrayed by him mostly oscillated tactically between arrogance and catfighting. His partner in the films was often Hattie Jacques, who yearned for him, and his counterpart was usually Sidney James. Williams was a rare example of how ruthless charging can be comical.
  • Joan Sims (24) is considered Miss Carry on in fan circles . In the beginning she often played the little silly, later she became a self-confident woman, rather uptight, but quickly saw through all situations. Even if she was often cast as the wife or girlfriend of Sid James, she was probably the most versatile and changeable of all the main actors: whether as a fiery mistress or a careworn wallflower, in comic or comparatively "straight" roles, as a young woman or an older lady, almost always managed to convince them.
  • Charles Hawtrey (23) repeatedly embodied the lovable but dumb-dumb bastard who showed a lot of effort but ultimately achieved little. Despite cheerful "Oh, hello!" and bouts of boisterous lust, he had the somewhat melancholic aura of an outsider who seemed to live in his own world. His inebriated characters in Carry on Cowboy and Carry on Abroad were a reflection of the actual Hawtrey. Prior to his carry-on stint, he had acted in several comedian Will Hay films.
  • Sidney James (19) simply embodied life to the full. His wide grin and signature dirty laugh brought anarchy to the line. His specialty was the portrayal of down-to-earth and lascivious characters with charisma and quick-witted wit, occasionally with a villain touch ( Carry on Cleo , Carry on Cowboy , Carry on Dick ). Mostly he was partnered with Joan Sims or Barbara Windsor, occasionally with Hattie Jaques ( Carry on Cabby ). His opponent was usually Kenneth Williams; the two most important pillars of the series also didn't like each other privately. Prior to his carry-on stint, James had acted in several Ealing comedies including alongside Alec Guinness .
  • Kenneth Connor (17) was a similarly important actor in the early days of the series as Kenneth Williams or Sid James and even makes the strongest impression in the debut Carry on Sergeant . At first, he was mainly cast as a shy and uptight (because he was too small) buddy or as a bundle of nerves. After Carry on Cleo he paused for half a decade and after his return to the series he often impersonated sex-hungry, dirty old men. His biggest leading role was as a fluffy captain in Carry on England .
  • Peter Butterworth (16) played very different roles in the films, which he made his own in his typical way. His worn-out appearance and his loyal gaze initially made him the ideal whipping boy, e.g. in Carry on Screaming . The innocent facade could also only camouflage for bad character traits such. B. Being greedy ( Carry on Camping ). He was at his best when he became more and more upset in a life-threatening situation while or because those around him treated the precarious situation with complete ignorance ( Carry on up the Khyber , Carry on Abroad ). In some films of the 70s he only had short appearances.
  • Hattie Jacques (14) attracted attention with her voluptuous body. She usually embodied the demure old maid in whom a volcano was bubbling that could erupt unexpectedly. Your parade role in this regard in a total of four films was that of a head nurse. She often starred with Sidney James or Kenneth Williams, who she often pursued in the films, but who didn't want to return her passion. During her early carry-on stint, she also acted successfully in the Norman Wisdom comedies .
  • Bernard Bresslaw (14) usually embodied the strong and somewhat dull giant with his heart in the right place. At two meters tall, he was at least a head taller than the other main actors. Gags in which he hits his head or tears down a tent roof with it were pre-programmed. He was often the partner of Barbara Windsor or Dilys Laye.
  • Jim Dale (11) mostly played clumsy, slow-witted, and lovable jerks. He replaced Kenneth Connor as the romantic (anti)hero for a time in 1960s films; in Carry on Cleo both are seen side by side. During the 1970s, Dale starred in several Disney live-action movies before returning in 1992 to star in Carry on Columbus .
  • Barbara Windsor (9) was subscribed to the part of the little blonde bombshell . She often played this role alongside the simple giant (Bresslaw) or the proletarian pleasure-seeker (Sid James). Her small size and infectious silly giggle gave her a goblin-like quality. In the films of the 1970s, she showed bare skin on numerous occasions.
  • Patsy Rowlands (9) mostly played the stunted, clueless and neglected wife or secretary of one of the main actors in the films of the early 70s.
  • Jack Douglas (8) was cast as the good-natured bespectacled sidekick in the final stages of the series. He was awkward and clumsy, often struggling with objects, and his arms suffered from spasmodic spasms in some of the films.
  • Terry Scott (7) played various types. He was at his best in roles that required overt or suppressed aggression, such as the obliging sergeant major in Carry on up the Khyber or the henpecked husband in Carry on Camping .

Note: Considering the compilation film That's Carry On (1977) as part of the series, Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor, who appeared here as presenters, can be added one appearance each.

More cast members

  • Michael Nightingale (13) was the busiest supporting actor between 1961 and 1978, albeit in extra roles. The butler he portrayed in Follow That Camel was named after himself.
  • Peter Gilmore (11) played various often colorful bit roles between 1963 and 1971, most notably the pirate captain in Carry on Jack , Robespierre in Don't Lose Your Head and Francis I of France in Carry on Henry . In 1992 he was again committed for Carry on Columbus .
  • Marianne Stone (9) played various minor roles and a slightly larger giggling toilet factory worker in Carry On at Your Convenience between 1959 and 1975 .
  • Julian Holloway (8) played various supporting roles from the late 1960s, most notably Major Shorthouse in Carry on up the Khyber , as which he acted in the famous dining scene.
  • Cyril Chamberlain (7) played supporting roles in the films up until 1964, to which he gave a memorable face.
  • Valerie Leon (6) played various decorative supporting female roles from the late 1960s, including larger ones in Carry on up the Jungle and Carry on Girls .
  • Joan Hickson (5) played supporting roles as diverse as the humorless head nurse in Carry on Nurse or the drunken lady in Carry on Constable in the early black-and-white films . She returned for two films in the early 1970s before appearing as Miss Marple in several television films in the 1980s .
  • Bill Maynard (5) played supporting roles in the films of the 1970s, e.g. B. one of the four crooks in Carry on Matron .
  • Leslie Phillips (4) starred in the early black and white films and returned for Carry on Columbus . Like Charles Hawtrey, he stood out with a distinguished, upper-class accent.
  • Angela Douglas (4) played leading female roles, most notably Annie Oakley in Carry on Cowboy .
  • Jacki Piper (4) played the kind of roles Angela Douglas had in the 1960s in the 1970s.
  • Dilys Laye (4) played female leads and made a good team with Bernard Bresslaw in Carry on Doctor and Carry on Camping .
  • Liz Fraser (4) played female leads in the early 1960s and returned in 1975 for a minor role in Carry on Behind .
  • Eric Barker (4) played major supporting roles as bosses and generals in the early black and white films and returned in 1978 for Carry on Emmanuelle . He also contributed the story to Carry on Cruising .
  • Jon Pertwee (4) played minor but memorable roles e.g. B. the myopic and hard of hearing Sheriff Earp in Carry On Cowboy . He was later known as Doctor Who and Root the Scarecrow before appearing again in 1992 's Carry on Columbus .
  • June Whitfield (4) acted first in Carry on Nurse and last in Carry on Columbus , but most notably in the early 1970s as a tight-lipped virtue guardian in Carry on Abroad and Carry on Girls .
  • Esma Cannon (4) starred in roles big and small in the early 1960s, stealing the show in Carry on Cruising .
  • Terence Longdon (4) had major roles in the early black and white films.
  • Bill Owen (4), ditto.
  • Bernard Cribbins (3) played lead roles in Carry on Jack , Carry on Spying and Carry on Columbus . Like Liz Fraser, he had potential, but like her, he was fired by producer Peter Rogers after he too aroused his displeasure.
  • Kenneth Cope (3) had worked as an extra in Carry on Jack before landing starring roles in Carry on at Your Convenience and Carry on Matron in the early 1970s .
  • Shirley Eaton (3) played female leads in the first two films before becoming a Bond girl.
  • Frankie Howerd (2) starred in Carry on Doctor and Carry on Up the Jungle and was signed to Carry on Columbus before he died.
  • Windsor Davies (2) had lead roles in Carry on Behind and Carry on England in the mid-1970s as a brief replacement for Sid James .
  • Richard O'Callaghan (2) starred in Carry on Loving and Carry on at Your Convenience in the early 1970s as a brief replacement for Jim Dale , both opposite Jacki Piper.



  1. Cheer up, chest out! ( Carry On Sergeant , 1958, bw)
  2. 41 Degrees of Love ( Carry On Nurse , 1959, sw)
  3. It's crazy - all lovable teachers ( Carry On Teacher , 1959, sw)
  4. It's crazy - these strapping policemen , no crooked thing can shake us either ( Carry On Constable , 1960, sw)
  5. Not Great, Honey ( Carry On Regardless , 1961, sw)
  6. Carry On Cruising ( 1962 )
  7. It's crazy - these tired taxi drivers , also the noise is coming ( Carry On Cabby , 1963, sw)
  8. It's crazy - a worn-out frigate , also a hero in a shirt ( Carry On Jack , also Carry On Venus , 1963)
  9. It's crazy - Agents on the powder keg ( Carry On Spying , 1964, sw)
  10. Carry On Cleo , 1964 _
  11. It's crazy - the bold cowboy , also Rumpo Kid asks for a duel ( Carry On Cowboy , 1965)
  12. It's crazy - Alarm in the creepy castle ( Carry On Screaming! , 1966)
  13. Carry On - Don't Lose Your Head ( 1966 )
  14. Carry On - Follow That Camel ( 1967 )
  15. The Totally Insane Hospital , too Carry on Doctor! ( Carry On Doctor , 1967)
  16. Everything Under Control - Nobody Sees Through ( Carry On up the Khyber , 1968)
  17. The Totally Mad Camping Paradise ( Carry On Camping , 1969)
  18. The Totally Insane Madhouse , also Come Back Doctor! ( Carry On Again Doctor , 1969)
  19. The Mad Mad Queen of the Amazons ( Carry On Up the Jungle , 1970)
  20. Love, Love Etc. ( Carry On Loving , 1970)
  21. Henry's Bed Stories, or How the Garlic Came to England ( Carry On Henry , 1971)
  22. A Strike Rarely Comes Alone ( Carry On At Your Convenience , 1971)
  23. The Mad Mad Head Nurse , also The Mad Mad Nurse ( Carry On Matron , 1972)
  24. A Mad Mad Vacation , ( Carry On Abroad , 1972)
  25. Miss Election in English ( Carry On Girls , 1973)
  26. Go on Dick! , also Carry On Dick , 1974
  27. Carry On Behind ( 1975 )
  28. Savior of the Nation ( Carry On England , 1976)
  29. Carry On Emmanuelle ( Carry On Emmanuelle , 1978)
  30. Carry On Columbus ( 1992 )


In 1977, Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor presented the best scenes from the 28 episodes of the series to date in the cinema compilation That's Carry On .

In 2003 a new film, Carry On London , was announced. The film was in pre-production until 2008, when production was halted. It was re-recorded in 2009, now with the working title Carry On Bananas . However, as of 2010, funding has not been secured and the film remains in pre-production.


Over time, various ideas for further carry-ons accumulated , some of which were almost ready to shoot:

  • What a Carry On... (1961)
  • Carry On Smoking (1961)
  • Carry On Flying (1962)
  • Carry On Spaceman (1962)
  • Carry On Again Nurse (1967, 1979, 1988)
  • Carry On Escaping (1973)
  • Carry on Dallas and Carry on Texas (1980, 1987)
  • Carry On Down Under (1981)

Related Movies

These films did not run under the Carry on label , but are otherwise almost indistinguishable from the rest. Director was Gerald Thomas, producer Peter Rogers and the actors came mostly from the carry-on cast. With Is it wrong – our torpedo is coming back , one of the films is also actively included, at least in Germany.


From 1969 it became a tradition for a few years for the carry-on crew to create a Christmas program for television:

  • Carry On Christmas (1969)
  • Carry On Again Christmas (1970)
  • Carry On Stuffing (1972)
  • Carry On Christmas (1973)
  • Carry On Laughing's Christmas Classics (1983)

Other TV Movies:

  • What A Carry On! (1973, documentary about the performance of Carry On London )
  • Carry On Snogging (1998, documentary about the sexual revolution based on the carry-on films)

TV Shows:

Related series:

  • Our House (1960–62) (not distributed under the carry-on label, however the writer and many of the cast and manner of portrayal were carried over from the carry-on series)
  • Bless This House (1971–1976) (based on the motion picture film of the same name)


  • Carry On London (1973–1976)
  • Carry On Laughing (1976)
  • Wot a Carry On in Blackpool (1992)


Six parts were released in England in the form of radio plays, plus several recordings with various carry-on film scores. Seven films have novels and three screenplays have been published together as a book. There are also a few encyclopedias and illustrated books.

All films are also available on video and DVD. 27 of the films as well as Our Torpedo Comes Back are now available on DVD ( AmCo movie label ) with German and some English original soundtracks.

In 2012, the first 12 films in the series were released on the Studiocanal label in three boxes of 4 DVDs each. All films contain the German and English soundtrack (ZDF synchronization) as well as German subtitles.

Thus, only Carry on Emmanuelle and Carry on Columbus have not yet been released on DVD in Germany.


  1. ↑ Audio commentary (2002) on the 16th film in the series, Carry on up the Khyber (1968)


web links