Peter Mara’s Camp Creative,
in the July 1998 issue of Bikwil (No. 8), brought back many
happily bawdy memories for me of Williams, Hawtrey, Jacques, Windsor and
the rest of the Carry On crew. Almost immediately, as if to egg me on to
perpetual nostalgia, over the next five months the ABC started weekly
rescreenings of a dozen and a half of these classics. All introduced, I
should add, by someone whose presence conjures up memories of an even
earlier time, namely the eternal John Hinde, to whose film reviews I
used to listen on the radio way back in 1955 when I should have been
studying for my Leaving Certificate.
They were the days, the 1950s, weren’t
they, where innocence prevailed, and if a Carry On film had reared its
naughty head in Australia in that decade we wouldn’t have known where
to look (or, rather, where we ought to look). As it transpired, in all
decades, those movies have been destined to be condemned as no more than
an endless a series of chest, groin and bottom jokes. Yet they have
stood the 40-year test of time, largely I suppose due to the outrageous
hammed-up performances of its regulars. And those voices!
Anyway, what’s wrong with an endless
series of chest, groin and bottom jokes? Don’t stop now! I need
more! Where can I get some background info? Why not the Internet? Surely
the Net has something on the Carry On films?
Does it ever! And not only the Carry
On lot either. Stuff on all manner of English comedy is there for the
asking. In this issue, however, we’ll confine ourselves to a single
site called Carry On-Line, but you can rest assured that other
English comedy classics will eventually have their day in this column.
There are other Internet sites
relating to the Carry On movies, by the way, and all are worth a look. For the dedicated Carry On aficionado in a hurry,
however, Carry On-Line just about has it all:
film info (from Sergeant,
1958 to Columbus, 1992)
stage info (did you
know they’d appeared in the theatre? — mainly in the 1970s)
loads of interviews,
articles, press releases and reviews.
The biographies are of special
interest. Here you can find out, not only who are still alive (too few),
but also those who were friends and those who didn’t get on.
Behind-the-scenes vegetation (genus Trivia
Impura?) grows in this vicinity in great profusion, some of it
scattered in clumps throughout the biographies, such as the following
Which two actors, both
later to win fame as Doctor Who, appeared in Carry On films? (William
Hartnell and Jon Pertwee)
Which other star
accompanied Barbara Winsdor and her husband on their honeymoon? (Kenneth
Which star once
proposed (presumably facetiously) to Joan Sims? (Kenneth Williams)
Who got accidentally
head-butted in the nose by Kenneth Williams in Carry On Doctor?
Which actor was an
accomplished pianist, and when the mood took him spoke a strange
nonsense-language, unintelligible to all but his closest friends?
Which movie was
planned, though never made, as a send-up of Neighbours, and
intended to be shot in Australia? (Carry On Down Under, 1988)
The site even contains audio bites
from the movies, so if you want you very own copy of the sound of KW
uttering immortal declamations like “Oh, no, don’t be like that!”
or “Oh! They just can’t get enough of it”, or Barbara Windsor
merrily trilling, “I didn't recognise you with your trousers on”,
then you know where to come.
On top of all that there are Carry On
screensavers and jigsaw puzzles, to say nothing of free Saucy Postcards.
Whenever I have called in on Carry
On-Line, its most recent update has always been the week before, so
Andy Davidson, who runs it, is to be congratulated on his devotion to
the goal of currency.