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Film / Carry On Loving

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"We'll be bloody lucky if we do, mate."
— One of Terence Philpott's many one-liners

Carry On Loving is a 1970 movie that marks the 20th Carry On in the British film series. It stars regulars Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Terry Scott, Bernard Bresslaw and Hattie Jacques, was the introduction movie of Richard O'Callaghan, the second for Jacki Piper, and the only Carry On for Imogen Hassall.

At the end of the 1960s, discussions of sex and physical relationships were becoming common among the British public and it soon became unfashionable to be "prudish" towards that sort of talk. Unsurprisingly, Carry On soon followed suit with that sort of humor (take that bra scene from Carry On Camping, for example).

Loving tells the story of a dating agency that hopes to matchmake singletons successfully, whether wrong or right. This agency is run by the constantly feuding couple Sid Bliss (James) and Sophie Plummet (Jacques), who put on a facade to their beaming customers as a successful matchup from a coupling computer that they own, which is secretly controlled by Sophie in a back-room. Numerous customers arrive, hoping to find the person of their dreams, but through Sid and Sophie's constant bickering over whom should go with whom, they seem to end up with people they would unlikely have chemistry with.


Shy undertaker's assistant Bert Muffet (O'Callaghan) is matched with model Sally Martin (Piper), whilst the constantly-trialed Terence Philpott (Scott) is partnered with the traditionally-raised Jenny Grubb (Hassall), who lives with her really large family. Meanwhile, Percival Snooper the marriage counsellor (Williams) hopes to try out a relationship, becoming the secret object of Sophie's affections, unaware that his housekeeper (Patsy Rowlands) has been in love with him for years. However, Sophie's apparent "cheating" on Sid is justified by the movie because of her large suspicion over her boyfriend's infatuation with client Esme Crowfoot (Sims), eventually hiring a private detective (Hawtrey) to investigate further. As for Esme, she is already involved with wrestler Gripper Burke (Bresslaw), who is prone to fits of violent jealousy against men he thinks are pursuing Esme...


Hilarity Ensues.

Tropes Included:

  • Absentee Actor: Additional shots of Bert Muffet in the final scene (the wedding of Sid and Sophie) were added in post-production because his actor Richard O'Callaghan couldn't make the official filming day.
  • Accidental Misnaming: When Bertrum Muffetnote  gives his name to Sid Bliss, Sid mishears his surname as "Muffin" and jokes, "We'll have to get you a bit of crumpet to go with that!" He refers to Bert as "Mr. Muffin" several further times during the scene, and though he does acknowledge Bert's corrections each time, he never quite seems to take them on board.
  • A-Cup Angst: Sally's room-mate Gaye, who wears fake breasts to put in her bra.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees:
    • The bus Bert travels on has a bus conductor, which was discontinued in Britain in (at least) the 1980s when buses gained electrical technology to take passenger tickets at the driver's seat.
    • Sid drenches himself with a bucket of icy water from the apartment's fire extinguisher area. Today, you'd either see a fire extinguisher pump or a bucket of sand, but mostly the former.
  • Amateur Sleuth: James is definitely this, although he seems to be a proper one, which might play up to Charles Hawtrey's common common character type.
  • Asexuality: Percival intends to marry, but says that his wife-to-be wouldn't need to share a bed with him, because his house is big enough for her to have her own room.
  • The Bluebeard: A customer turns up at Sid and Sophie's calling himself "Dr Crippen" and says his wives have a strange habit of dying shortly after marrying him. The first ate poisoned mushrooms, the second died of a fractured skull (as "Crippen" explains, "She wouldn't eat the mushrooms").
  • Brownface: James follows Sid disguised as an Indian, complete with turban. When caught, he tries speaking in You No Take Candle.
  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: Sid and Sophie match up people that either hate each other or have no chemistry whatsoever.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bertram, who seems to be the only character that gets seriously injured.
  • Buxom Is Better: The reason why the Adrian the modelling photographer hires Jenny.
  • The Cameo
    • Recurring actor Julian Holloway as Adrian the modelling photographer. He is also dating Sally's room-mate Gaye, who is suspicious with his behaviour around other female models.
    • An uncredited Peter Butterworth, who plays "Dr Crippen".
    • Recurring actor Patsy Rowlands as Percival's housekeeper Miss Dempsey.
    • Bill Maynard as the angry customer who yells at Percival during therapy.
  • Christmas Cake: Sophie and Miss Dempsey, who fight for Percival's affections.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Percival's smitten housekeeper pulls his trousers down accidentally when she's trying to embrace him, just as Sophie walks into the room.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Pro-wrestler Gripper Burke is this towards Chloe, despite her telling him that she doesn't see him as her boyfriend anymore. When he hears that she's moved on with someone else, Burke immediately goes to kill the new man.
  • Creepy Family: Jenny's family, for definite. Terence is immediately put in an awkward place when he enters with all of the family sitting in silence, staring at his seat, and eventually, him.
  • Creepy Monotone: "Dr Crippen", who is also very emotionless for a man that seems to be unlucky in love with loads of dead wives.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Gripper's fight with Bertram, who he thinks is Esme's master; he breaks his hand and bruises his head.
    • Gripper's fight with Miss Dempsey, who's protecting Percival; she throws him into a coffee table and then out of the window.
  • Dating Service Disaster: The movie in a nutshell. The "sophisticated computer" Sid and Sophie use to match their clients is purely decorative; Sophie herself chooses the matches seemingly at random, and the couples are almost invariably complete mismatches (Bert and Sally are a rare exception). In the final scene, the many ill-matched couples who used Sid and Sophie's services are gathered in one room, giving each other (and Sid and Sophie, themselves) death glares.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sid has a scene's worth of this when taking down Bert's personal details to feed into the "computer".
    Sid Bliss: And what are you interested in?
    Bert Muffet: [laughs nervously] Same as most chaps like to do, I suppose.
    Sid Bliss: And that is...?
    Bert Muffet: [awkwardly] Well, I don't know, I've never done it yet.
    Sid Bliss: You should try it, it's lovely. Er... (coughs, stammers) What I'm trying to do is find out what you like to do so that I can fix you up with a girl who likes it too.
    Bert Muffet: Oh, yes, I would like a girl who likes it too.
    Sid Bliss: Yes, it is handy. Er, hobbies?
    Bert Muffet: Oh. Well, my main one is making model aeroplanes.
    Sid Bliss: Model aeroplanes.
    Bert Muffet: Yes, out of milk bottle tops.
    Sid Bliss: (confused) Milk bottle tops?
    Bert Muffet: Yes - they're not flying models, of course.
    Sid Bliss: No? You surprise me.
  • Dirty Coward: When Terrance comes demanding a refund, Sid tries to set up a date with Esme, knowing full well that Gripper might kill him.
  • Dirty Old Man: Sid, who "vets" some of the female clients. When Terence tells him that one of his dates is pregnant, Sid immediately checks the date he had sex with her.
    Sid Bliss: [sighs with relief] ...I'm in the clear.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Sid hopes to invoke this with Esme by drenching himself in water to convince her that he was Driven to Suicide by throwing himself in the river when she began to ignore him.
    Esme Crowfoot: [suspiciously] Which river?
    Sid Bliss: [desperately] Who cares about that?! They've all got water in them, haven't they?
  • Follow That Car: Sid flags a cab and tells it to go to a certain address. When it takes off without him, he flags down another cab and tells it to "follow that cab", and this cab also drives off without him, leaving him incredibly annoyed.
  • Food Fight: The couples have an ensemble wedding, despite loathing the spouse they've ended up with, and their grudges are taken out through this way.
  • The Ghost: Judging by the large files that Sid and Sophie keep in their cabinets, there are many other clients that they keep an eye on. Terry walks into the office after going out with another client that doesn't appear onscreen. This is subverted in the final scene; when Sid and Sophie (reluctantly) get married, all the clients are seen sitting at the dinner table looking miserable with their match-ups.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Sid and Sophie's feuding has led to Sid secretly trying to compete with her, despite loathing every moment they share with each other. When Sophie is told by James that Sid set up the Percival date sabotage, she goes back to apologise to him, but Sid quickly grabs her and claims that he wants to marry her. That way, she can never beat him in finding love.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Once Sophie finds out what Sid has been up to, she takes the bottle of champagne he gives her and smashes it over his head. Amazingly, he doesn't get a concussion, or a similar injury.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Sid and Sophie might as well be the poster children for this trope. They're supposedly boyfriend and girlfriend but they really loathe each other to the core, to the point of throwing objects at each other when they argue.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Sally states that she's been a lingerie model for so long, she is used to being in a room with a man in her underwear. Through a large misunderstanding, she finds out this way that the man that has turned up to her house isn't the modeling photographer she's expecting.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Most infamously, between Terry and Jenny, who are trying to be intimate in the living room, but are interrupted more than five times by room-mates that are walking in and out of their rooms.
  • It's for a Book: Percival works as a marriage counsellor, but is not married, so he hopes to find a wife so he can get his clients' experiences.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Percival's housekeeper, who secretly has feelings for him.
  • The Klutz: Terence, although it's justified due to Twerp Sweating.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Sophie pretending to be the matchmaking computer.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Percival is a marriage counselor but has never actually been married, being a confirmed bachelor. Being told he needs some hands-on experience, he goes to Sid and Sophie's, where he catches her eye. After some misunderstandings, he ends up with his housekeeper Miss Dempsey, who's had feelings for him for years, and looks miserable at the prospect of marrying her.
  • Mistaken Identity: When they first meet, Bert mistakes Sally for his date as prescribed by Sid and Sophie's dating agency; Sally mistakes Bert for the photographer who is due to shoot her latest modelling job. When the misunderstandings are cleared up, they find they actually get on very well with each other.
  • Nice Guy: Bertram is always kind and polite to everyone, even though he gets beaten up by a boxer.
  • Not What It Looks Like
    • Gripper meets up with Esme to court her in her apartment just as Sid sneaks out of the bedroom window. When Gripper spots Sid's clothes, he becomes angry and threatens to kill any man that might want to become friendly with Esme. Then the doorbell rings and the oblivious Bert walks in to meet up with her, making Gripper wrestle him and throw him across the room.
    • The angry Miss Dempsey trying to scare Sophie away with false claims of a physical relationship with her master, and Percival's obvious looks of confusion.
    • Esme trying to launch herself onto Percival, and managing to pull his trousers down as he tries to escape, just as the already-annoyed Sophie wanders through the door.
  • Oblivious to Love: Percival never noticed Miss Dempsey's ready-to-please behaviour as a sign that she is interested in him, even though she's lived under his roof for years.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Sally and Bert's first meeting is full of this trope. Sally talks about all the situations that photographers have wanted her to pose in (such as in the bathroom or lying across the floor), and Bert just assumes that she's either flirting or Really Gets Around.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Sally visits Bert in hospital to apologize for the misunderstanding during their first meeting. While they talk about what happened and laugh about how silly the event had been, Bert's bed neighbour overhears them talking about Sally stripping to her underwear and lying around the room, and asks Bert whether the story is true after she leaves — especially the part when Bert ran out in embarrassment. When Bert confirms that the story's true, the bed neighbour glares at him in worry, mumbling, "And you say there's nothing wrong with you..."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When James follows Sid, he changes his hat and sticks a large fake beard on. The confused police officer and Sid are not fooled and James is arrested for suspicious behaviour.
  • Pie in the Face: Combined with a Running Gag: throughout the film, which is about a computer dating agency, there's a young couple who appear in various scenes just enthusiastically making out with each other. In the climactic food fight, the young woman stops kissing her man long enough to look up and see what's going on, and gets a cream cake in the face. She doesn't even wipe it off, but goes back to making out again.
  • Punny Name: Gripper Burke the wrestler, because he's got a tight grip and won't let you go, and he's a massive berk.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl: Jenny. After she moves out of her family's house, she throws away her Puritan outfits and wears short dresses that shows everything off. Terence can't believe his eyes when he sees her.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Unable to take being subordinate under the dictatorship of her family any longer, Jenny moves out of her house and becomes a model. When Terry demands for a refund at Sid's office a couple of weeks later from another client he's been out with off-screen, Jenny walks in for a refund too, immediately making Terence forget what he came in for and ask her out.
  • Shout-Out: As in Carry On Doctor, the theme from Alfred Hitchcock Presents plays when Bedsop follows Sid.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Sid lies to Esme about trying to drown himself in a canal, she tells him that canal waters are filthy. Sid lampshades this.
  • Sleeping Single: Percival tells Sophie on their "date" that there's no need to be sleeping together because his mansion has enough room for them to be anywhere they want to when they're married, slightly annoying Sophie.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Although being the boyfriend of Sid, Sophie is suspicious of his antics with female clients and shows no interest in him. When the shy Percival shows up, claiming that he isn't used to dating and commitments, Sophie is immediately sold.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: During the climactic pie fight, there's a couple (Mike Grady and Valerie Shute) who've been a Running Gag for the whole film because they're in almost every scene, making out. For the first time in the movie, she breaks off from kissing him to look around and see what's going on, and gets a pie in the face. She doesn't clear it off, but goes right back to making out.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Richard O' Callaghan was cast with the intention of being a long-term replacement for Jim Dale. However he only appeared in one further production before leaving the series.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Sort of happens in a way, but is mostly invoked by Sid. Learning that Sophie's going to meet up with Percival, he makes Esme show up at the house and pretend to be a horny woman that Percival had a fling with, while he phones Esme's on/off boyfriend Gripper to attack Percival for "stealing his woman", which he does, before being attacked by Miss Dempsey and thrown out of the building. It works like a charm, and Sophie storms out of the house in a huff.
  • Twerp Sweating: Terrence, around Jenny's family.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
    • The short man and his much-taller wife that are seen leaving Percival's office outside.
    • The man in the flat cap that yells at Percival, to his long-legged younger-looking wife.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After staking out and spying on Sid for days, Sophie's hired PI James Bedsop disappears out of the movie. He doesn't show up for the forced wedding of Sophie and Sid, although considering what James had been doing for most of the movie, his absence is understandable.


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