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Film / Carry On... Series
aka: Carry On

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"The team who turned so many of our national institutions into riotous comedy."
Carry On Cabby trailer

The Carry On films were a long series of movies made with a diverse troupe of British comic actors from The '50s to The '70s and an excellent example of a Universal-Adaptor Cast. All were produced by Peter Rogers and directed by Gerald Thomas.

Over the years, different actors would join or leave the Carry On gang, or just take a break for a film or two. Kenneth Williams was the actor who appeared in the most Carry On movies, but some of the other actors who regularly appeared included Joan Sims, Charles Hawtrey, Sidney James, Kenneth Connor, Peter Butterworth, Bernard Bresslaw, Hattie Jacques, Jim Dale, Barbara Windsor, Terry Scott, Patsy Rowlands, and Jack Douglas. And many others.

Each Carry On actor tended to specialize in a particular type of role. Thus Kenneth Williams would usually play a snide, haughty character who would easily be outraged, Joan Sims started out playing young and desirable women then moved to older and less-desirable women, Charles Hawtrey would be naive and effete, Sid James played lecherous, leering Cockneys (often named "Sid"), and so on.

Movie after movie would find a different situation to put these types in. Sometimes a normal everyday setting (a hospital setting was used four times), sometimes a well-known historical period or a parody of a specific film genre. Once in a while an actor would play different from their usual type, such as Kenneth Williams playing the Mayor in Carry On Cowboy with a Fake American accent instead of in the voice and style usually associated with Kenneth Williams.

Some say these movies have an important place in the history of British film comedy, others say they represent one of the lowest points of British comedy. Most say the series was uneven, with some films better than others, but there is little consensus on which are the best films.

The series relied heavily on one-liners, puns, and sexual innuendo. Gradually, as censorship standards for British films changed, the sexual humour came to be more explicit, until it seems to completely dominate the later movies; it was, after all, the age of the Awful British Sex Comedy.

These films are frequently shown on British television, only very rarely in the United States. This is probably due both to more stringent rules about sexual humour and nudity on American television, and also due to the very British quality of the humour.

In addition to the films, the group made four Christmas specials for British television (in 1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973), a television series in 1975 called Carry On Laughing!, and there were three live stage shows in the early '70s.

The films Please Turn Over, Watch Your Stern, No Kidding, Raising the Wind, Twice Round the Daffodils, Nurse on Wheels (1963), and The Big Job (1965) were all also directed by Gerald Thomas, produced by Peter Rogers and used the same writers and some of the same cast and crew of the Carry On films, but are not part of the Carry On series.

There's a rather uncertain future for the film series. Despite the backlash from Carry On Columbus in 1992, a new Carry On movie, titled Carry On London/Carry On Bananas was announced in 2003, started pre-production in 2008, and didn't seem to be going anywhere after 2010, possibly due to the death of Gerald Thomas. Then in autumn 2015, it was announced during the Cannes Film Festival that Carry On Bananas would be back in the making, which was then followed by another announcement of a new movie the following year to be released in 2017 called Carry On Doctors. Who knows what else is soon to come?

Has nothing to do with the 1957 film Carry On Admiral (a.k.a. The Ship Was Loaded), that featured Joan Sims.

The complete list of films in the series is as follows:

  1. Carry On, Sergeant (1958) — National Service training
  2. Carry On Nurse (1959) — Hospital
  3. Carry On Teacher (1959) — The Good Old British Comp
  4. Carry On Constable (1960) — Police Force
  5. Carry On Regardless (1961) — Temporary Employment Agency
  6. Carry On Cruising (1962) — Cruise Ship
  7. Carry On Cabby (1963) — Taxicab company and Battle of the Sexes
  8. Carry On Jack (1963) — British navy in the time of Horatio Nelson, with elements of Swashbuckler films, but mostly Mutiny on the Bounty
  9. Carry On Spying (1964) — Espionage, especially James Bond, and Film Noir movies such as The Third Man
  10. Carry On Cleo (1964) — Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, filmed on the abandoned sets of Cleopatra.
  11. Carry On Cowboy (1965) — The Wild West/Cowboys and Indians
  12. Carry On Screaming! (1966) — Horror movies, especially Hammer Horror
  13. Don't Lose Your Head (1966) — The Scarlet Pimpernel and The French Revolution
  14. Follow That Camel (1967) — French Foreign Legion, with elements of Beau Geste and Under Two Flags
  15. Carry On Doctor (1967) — Another Hospital
  16. Carry On Up the Khyber (1968) — The Khyber Pass during The Raj, with elements of Zulu
  17. Carry On Camping (1969) — Horrible Camping Trip
  18. Carry On Again Doctor (1969) — Yet another Hospital
  19. Carry On Up the Jungle (1970) — African Exploration, including Tarzan and Tropes of the Jungle.
  20. Carry On Loving (1970) — Computer dating agency
  21. Carry On Henry (1971) — Anne of the Thousand Days, Henry VIII and the Tudor period, with elements of the Stuart Era.
  22. Carry On at Your Convenience (1971) — Toilet factory trade union.
  23. Carry On Matron (1972) — Still another Hospital
  24. Carry On Abroad (1972) — Package Tour
  25. Carry On Girls (1973) — Beauty Contest and Feminism
  26. Carry On Dick (1974) — Dick Turpin and The Cavalier Years
  27. Carry On Behind (1975) — Archaeological beachcombers at a caravan site
  28. Carry On England (1976) — World War II
  29. That's Carry On! (1977) — Clip Show with footage from the other movies
  30. Carry On Emmannuelle (1978) — Emmanuelle and other awful British sex comedies
  31. Carry On Columbus (1992) — Christopher Columbus

Carry On Escaping (Written 1973) — Unproduced script; World War II prisoner of war camp

Carry On Again Nurse (Written 1988) — Unproduced script; and again another hospital

Note that two of the films were originally released with titles that did not include the words "Carry On"; this was due to a change of film distributor. They were later known as Carry On Follow that Camel! and Carry On Don't Lose Your Head.

The Carry On film series provides examples from the following tropes:

  • Accidental Pervert: Happens too many times to count, often occurring multiple times in a single film. A particularly elaborate example happens to Dr Kilmore Carry On Doctor, leading to his dismissal from the hospital.
  • Affectionate Parody: The series was one of the first films that did parodies. In many cases, it was because the production team wanted to make a friendly rival between films that they were parodying and see what made more in the British box office.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Often plays this straight. Sid James' characters are usually the embodiment of this, willingly playing away from their wives with any woman that's up for it.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Celebrated as much as the perverted men. Often the younger women were this, whereas the older women were the opposite.
  • All Women Are Prudes: Common in the series. They usually break out of this at some point. Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques were the common ones.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Sid James, Bernard Bresslaw and Amelia Bayntun are Jewish, and sometimes played roles that fit with the stereotypes (Amelia being the pushy housewife, Bernard often being the Nice Jewish Boy, and Sid was quick-thinking), but their characters were never stated to be Jewish.
    • Phil Silvers' character in Follow That Camel! started to become greedy when it came to getting medals from Burger and Le Pice. Silvers himself was Jewish, but his character was portrayed as the typical Leeroy Jenkins loud-mouthed American.
    • There have been a few exceptions, if you can call them that. For example, in Carry On Matron, Terry Scott jokingly calls the hypochondriac Sir Bernard "the rabbi", although Bernard shows no evidence of being Jewish, the neediness and complaining of the prudish Joan and Andrea in Carry On Camping (well, considering that Joan's mother is Amelia, and the fact that their boyfriends are Bernard and Sid), and Citizen Bidet stating that he got circumcised when he was born in Don't Lose Your Head.
  • Anachronism Stew: A staple of the "historical" films, always for purely humorous purposes. Just as an example, irrespective of the era in which the films were set, Charles Hawtrey's characters always wore "granny glasses".
  • Annoying Patient: At least one crops up in all of the medically-themed films. The Colonel from Carry On Nurse is the earliest, and one of the best, examples.
  • Apron Matron: A fixture of the hospital films contained an actual matron like this, always played by Hattie Jacques. She even shows up as a matron in Carry On Regardless when Bert Handy (Sid James) is hired to hold a rich man's place in the waiting room queue at a hospital and is mistaken for a visiting dignitary.
  • Armed Farces: The films visited this theme several times:
    • Carry On, Sergeant is set among National Service recruits in the British Army, who comprise an assortment of buffoons, snobs, hypochondriacs, and ne'er-do-wells.
    • Carry On Jack is set in the Navy during the Napoleonic Era, with a chronically seasick captain, his scheming first mate, and an accident-prone midshipman.
    • Carry On in the Legion is set in the French Foreign Legion, with the usual clueless officers and naive NCOs and privates who couldn't find their way out of a sandpit, much less find their way through the desert.
    • Carry On Up the Khyber is set in the British Raj, and starts with the joke that the supposedly terrifying kilted soldiers of the local regiment (who include a motley group of cowards and clots) actually wear giant pairs of underwear beneath their kilts.note 
    • Carry On England is set in a gender-integrated military division on the Home Front in World War II, the members of which are far more interested in pursuing sexual escapades than in anything to do with the military, to the frustration of the incompetent CO and the buffoonish RSM.
  • Artifact Title: The series began with Carry On, Sergeant, a command familiar to all ex-servicemen or national servicemen at the time. It was commonly used by British officers, indicating that the sergeant addressed should proceed with orders given, or resume what they were doing before they were interrupted. Only a few of the subsequent titles came close to following that context.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Often accompanies Disguised in Drag. For example, in Carry On Matron, Kenneth Cope is disguised as a female nurse to case the hospital Sid James' gang are planning to rob. He promptly attracts the attention of a lecherous doctor played by Terry Scott.
  • Awful British Sex Comedy: Sometimes played straight once The '60s ended.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Many of Sid's characters suffer from this. Mostly because his wife isn't in the mood for a physical relationship anymore.
  • The Big Guy:
    • Bernard Bresslaw. All 6'7½" of him.
    • In some cases, the 6'4" Jack Douglas.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: invoked A Rule of Funny with the series; there were often scenes or moments that are never referred to in the rest of the movie. A well-known one is from Camping in which Terry Scott is shot by an innkeeper through a misunderstanding and then only mentions it in a one-sentence comment.
  • Blood Knight: The important alpha-male authority figure in many of the movies that severed under a blundering idiot as a leader. A brilliant example is Lieutenant Howett from Carry On Jack, who organises a fake mutiny in order to scare the timid Captain Fearless away from his ship, and begins his first day in power sailing to Spain to threaten the government into surrendering at gunpoint.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • Carry On Cowboy had the Showdown at High Noon where many were shot dead with no blood stains.
    • Carry On Up The Khyber had a war at the Khyber Pass and outside Sir Sidney's house.
    • Don't Lose Your Head had the fight in a mansion that was like this.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Often came from Sid, which was probably a substitution for a curse word.
  • Breakout Character: Sid James was the fans' (and maybe the producers') favourite regular ever since his first appearance as a supporting character in Carry On Constable.
  • British Stuffiness: The series made a fortune dwelling on this stereotype. When the series reach the 1960s, the cast always got caught into embarrassing sexual situations and double entendres, and because it was on the big screen they could get away with far more Ms. Fanservice nudity than on TV. While many British people laughed at this Self-Deprecation comedy, others were embarrassed by the success of this franchise. Many who basically were the kind of people satirized in these comedies.
  • The Cameo: Peter Butterworth, Jim Dale, Bernard Bresslaw, Hattie Jacques and Terry Scott were more likely to appear in uncredited roles than any other recurring regulars.
  • Camp Straight:
    • Any character played by Kenneth Williams or Charles Hawtrey. The latter was actually gay, while Kenneth Williams is a matter of debate to this day. (It's generally thought that Williams was the friend to whom playwright Joe Orton addressed his famous speech about screwing whatever moves you without worrying about the values of society, but nobody knows whether Williams followed the advice or not.)
    • Frankie Howerd, also known note  to have been gay, embodied this trope in his two Carry On appearances (Carry On Doctor, who ends up marrying his female assistant, and Carry On Up the Jungle, who is implied to have a Porn Stash).
    • Recurring actor Julian Orchard (who appeared in about four movies in bit parts — most memorably as the Duc de Pincenay in Carry On Henry) also played this role. Whether he was actually gay in real life is unknown.
  • Catchphrase: Although they were playing different characters in each film, some of the actors had a few catchphrases which showed up with considerable regularity.
    • Charles Hawtrey's first line in each film was nearly always a very camp and flirtatious-sounding "Oh, hel-lo!"
    • Kenneth Williams would often deliver at least a few lines in his "snide" voice from Hancock's Half Hour whenever he was mocking someone (in a few films, such as Carry On Spying, he would do the entire role in "snide" mode), including the character's catchphrases of "No, don't be like that!" and "Stop messin' about!"
  • Catfight: Barbara Windsor has one in Carry On Camping, and then with Margaret Nolan in Carry On Girls. The latter film's fight was over a stolen bikini.
  • Character Title: Carry On Cleo (Cleopatra), Carry On Henry (Henry VIII), Carry On Matron (the matron), and Carry On Dick ("Big" Dick Turpin).
  • The Chessmaster: Many of Sid James' characters, if they didn't get their own way. His character in Carry On Loving was so quick to make his girlfriend (who he frequently cheats on) come back to him, he invoked a Third-Act Misunderstanding on the date she had hours after she dumped him.
  • The Heart: Barbara Windsor was often this on a team. She was either the smartest in the group or the dumbest in the room.
  • Christmas Episode: Carry On Christmas, the collective name for four one-off Christmas television specials starring many of the Carry On regulars (notably excluding Kenneth Williams, who refused to take part) produced in 1969, 1970, 1972, and 1973.
  • Clip Show: That's Carry On! was conceived by Peter Rogers as a Carry On version of the successful That's Entertainment! compilations, with clips presented by Kenneth Williams and Barbara Windsor. The second Carry On Laughing series which ran from 1981 to 1983 transferred the idea to television, minus Ken and Babs (except for the 1983 Christmas special).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Many of Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw's characters.
  • Clueless Chick-Magnet: Kenneth Williams often had two middle-aged women fighting over him.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Connor suffered from this a couple of times.
  • Cover Drop: Many of the movie posters after Carry On Teacher were this. The poster artist(s) would mostly cut and paste frames from the film or just draw scenes dotted around the page. For example:
    • Carry On Camping featured a tiny Barbara Windsor-like girl with her bikini top flying off her body.
    • Carry On Jack had a sailor getting whipped against a wall.
    • Don't Lose Your Head had Jim Dale swinging from a chandelier as Sid James is crawling out of Joan Sims' dress while Charles Hawtrey and Peter Butterworth are trying to hold up a pillar.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A couple of Charles Hawtrey characters.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Arguably, the Carry On series is much more appreciated and well-received now that the majority of the cast are dead.
    • Particularly Sid James, whose characters were sleazy wisecracking old men who lusted over young vulnerable underage women. When he was alive, some saw him as a bad example to men. After he died, he was constantly praised for being one of the funniest members of the recurring cast.
    • Although, this was probably because the last few films that were made after his death didn't do as well at the box office and were accused of being "repetitive".
    • In many cases, the Carry On series is being called the best of British comedy, even by viewers that believed the series was raunchy, crude, and a bad influence on younger viewers.
  • Denser and Wackier: The early films, while farcical, took place in a fairly grounded setting. As time went on, any sense of reality was thrown out the window in favour of pure wackiness and innuendo.
  • Disguised in Drag: Often involving the aforementioned Bernard Bresslaw. Peter Butterworth, Charles Hawtrey, and Kenneth Williams also frequently dressed in drag to go undercover, almost invariably without bothering to disguise their voices.
  • Dressed to Heal: The series skewered the medical profession more than any other. In all of them, the nurses, sisters, and matrons wore the uniform of their level and the doctors wore white coats. No mirrors though.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: There were several of these in the Armed Farces movies, mostly ruling under a General Failure that they despised. The original one was Eric Barker's captain in Carry On Sergeant, along with his sidekick Bill Owen's corporal, who was just as bad as him. You could say that they were the Ur-Example of this trope for the entire film series.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: There were a couple of these from both genders throughout the series, but it was commonly male characters. The female version was often Hattie Jacques, who would try and sabotage the plans of a rival suitor to make her look trustworthy.
  • Dumb Blonde: Margaret Nolan, even though she made a few background appearances, was easily lured by perverted men.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The films made prior to Talbot Rothwell's arrival as scriptwriter (up to and including Carry On Cruising) generally tended to have more situational-based humour rather than the puns and sexual innuendo the later films relied on.
    • Kenneth Williams' characters in the first two films were played straight and were more deadpan snarkers than his other characters (in fact, his character in Carry On Nurse had a sort-of romance going on with a girl who occasionally visits him — not that he notices her affections though...).
    • Sid James began as an authority figure who was strict with the dim-witted workers he had to deal with, and even cowered in fear when horny women willingly threw themselves at him.
    • Joan Sims wasn't a nagging prude in the early films and was often the attractive female lead — a role that was later given to Barbara Windsor.
  • Ephebophile: Some of the married male characters, towards teenage girls.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: European characters in the series that were outside the British Isles were often portrayed as this. For example, in Carry On Henry, Henry VIII marries a French woman after his fourth "prudish" wife is executed, but then becomes horny and frustrated when he finds out that his new Queen eats garlic. Meanwhile, Carry On Emmannuelle stars a French woman that cheats on her prudish husband with several men, and is even a member of the Mile High Club.
  • Fanservice:
    • Let's just say Barbara Windsor and have done with it.
    • The series began to rely on this a lot in the mid-sixties onwards by hiring younger and more attractive actors (Jim Dale, Richard O'Callaghan, Jacki Piper, Angela Douglas, etc.) to provide a Love Interest subplot in some of the films, whilst the older cast dealt with the comedy. Even though they suffered from many fanservice tropes, don't expect many of them to be showing much skin.
    • Carry On Cabby presents the argument that in a free market, no amount of quality can compete with blatant fanservice, as a rival cab company arrives out of nowhere providing only female drivers with low-cut tops, large breasts and long legs. One sequence features a succession of customers happily fixing their own cabs as the drivers lean against them idly.
    • Carry On Emmannuelle was an attempt at building an entire film around the concept of fanservice. It failed dismally, demonstrating a profound truth about how fanservice works. Or possibly not.
    • The characters played by Margaret Nolan, who were usually a blonde lusted by about every male (to put it in perspective, she was the curvacious woman who appears in the title sequence of the James Bond film Goldfinger, aside from appearing in the film itself as Bond's masseuse Dink) and Valerie Leon, who were usually Aloof Dark Haired Girls before they let their hair down (and who also appeared in a Bond film, two in fact: The Spy Who Loved Me and the "unofficial" Never Say Never Again) deserve special mention too.
  • Fainting: Often happened to the female characters that were married to Sid James, usually because they were unknowingly pregnant. Male versions were usually from Mistaken for Badass characters during bloodshed.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: This is often how the worked, mostly being justified as a film series in which "no one was the star" — the "star is Carry On". The only actor that usually never had a satisfying conclusion was Charles Hawtrey's characters.
  • Franchise-Driven Retitling: Follow That Camel and Call Me A Cab were re-titled when the producers realized they were Carry On films in all but name. So they became Carry On... Follow That Camel! and Carry On Cabby.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Every major character we see in the films has a subplot.
  • Gainax Ending/Ambiguous Ending: A lot of the films didn't really have a satisfying conclusion and mostly ended with many unanswered questions. This was mostly down to the series' love of the invoked Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • General Failure: Kenneth Williams was usually the weedy leader that was the embarrassment of his army. When he lost his power, there were hardly any sympathizers.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Many examples; see the page illustration if you're confused.
  • Henpecked Husband: Many of Sid James' characters, with the nagging wife often played by Hattie Jacques or Joan Sims, which was mostly the reason why he preyed on other women. Also sometimes played by Kenneth Connor (Carry On Cleo and Carry On Abroad) or Terry Scott (Carry On Camping).
  • Hero Antagonist: Many of Kenneth Williams' characters, especially when pitted against Sid James.
  • Historical Domain Character: Most of the period piece movies either star and/or feature comedic portrayals of historical figures from the period.
  • Hollywood Costuming: The periodic films had their fun with this trope. An obvious example is all of Charles Hawtrey's characters wearing the same Harry Potter-style spectacles.
  • Hospital Hottie: Jim Dale and Barbara Windsor, when they were doctor and nurse in the medical films.
  • Hypochondria:
    • Kenneth Connor's character in Carry On, Sergeant is this to a tee until the MO takes him to a psychiatrist.
    • Kenneth Williams' character in Carry On Matron. He starts to believe that he's got a mutation in his body that's turning him into a woman.
  • I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: Face it, if you watch a film, you'll refer to the people on screen by the name of their actor. Even this page only refers to the characters by their actors.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: Several of the films involve Sid James or Bernard Bresslaw (or someone similarly unmistakably masculine) wearing a dress, and the authority figure they're trying to evade falling instantly for him, despite the fact that he's clearly Sid James or Bernard Bresslaw wearing a dress. (The fact that the authority figure was frequently Kenneth Williams may add a bit of subtext to this.)
  • Informed Attractiveness:
    • Sid James, mostly when he played charming Gentleman Thief womanisers, managed to get so many women falling for him. The possible fact that many of his admirers were sexually-frustrated at the time could've played in his favour as well.
    • Kenneth Williams, who mostly got at least two women fighting over him every so often. You could say that it was because of Power is Sexy.
    • invoked Charles Hawtrey, sometimes, who managed to chase terrified women around the room until they gave in to have sex with him. Some even come back for some more.
  • Innocent Innuendo: A staple of the films; for example, in Carry On Camping, Barbara Windsor and Sid James (or possibly Bernard Bresslaw, or both) are heard saying things like "can you get it up?", "no, not there!", "is it in yet?", etc, to the horror of the men's girlfriends, who then discover that the only thing that is being erected is a tent.
  • Invisible Holes: Occurs in Follow That Camel (Kenneth Williams shot by Arabs), Carry On Up the Khyber (the almost dead Peter Gilmore), Carry On Henry (Charles Hawtrey after being tortured in an iron maiden).
  • Jerkass: Commonly a Kenneth Williams character in an authority role. One of the exceptions was his character in Carry On at Your Convenience.
  • Jungle Drums:
    • Parodied in Carry On Again Doctor. The natives are using their drums to broadcast the week's English football results.
      Dr Nookey: Oh, those damn drums! What do they keep pounding like that for?-
      Gladstone: Sh! Sh! (listens) Hang on! (runs off)
      Dr Nookey: Gladstone, where are you going? (he stumbles drunkenly after him) Gladstone? (taps him on the shoulder) Gladstone, Gladstone-
      Gladstone: Sh! Sh! (grabs a pencil and paper and listens, stunned) It can't be!
      Dr Nookey: (nervously) Wh-wh-what's wrong?
      Gladstone: Manchester United 6... Chelsea 1! Arsenal 5... Wolves 0! (Nookey sinks to the ground)
    • In Carry On Up the Jungle, after drumming has been heard, the bearers refuse to go any further, because the locals eat people. The expedition leader claims this is nonsense; there is no such thing as cannibals! The bearers counter that the first drum says "Lay the table for five" and the second one says "Yum-yum!".
  • Kavorka Man: The characters played by Sid James are usually pretty successful with much younger women, although James was middle-aged at the time and certainly no oil painting. Up to a point, it became a parody of his own life.
  • Kitchen Sink Drama: Many of the films that weren't movie parodies (mostly the black and white entries).
  • The Klutz: Plenty of Jim Dale characters. One managed to trip over a trolley and pull out an entire fuse box.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Kenneth Williams reacted like this whenever someone said Innocent Innuendo.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: Sid James' characters do this all the time. It's implied that him laughing (with his notorious "dirty laugh") is what makes other characters laugh along with him.
  • Leitmotif: The Matron character had a distinct tune that played throughout the films whenever she showed up. It made her sound haughty and gave out a battleaxe feeling.
  • Literal-Minded: Bernard Bresslaw's simpleton characters were this.
  • Loveable Rogue: Many of Sid James' characters, when he wasn't playing henpecked husbands.
  • Love Triangle: Some films had this as a subplot, usually featuring Jim Dale, Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Richard O'Callaghan, Kenneth Williams and/or Joan Sims. Many of them slipped into Imaginary Love Triangle.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The movies often used this trope to imply how much sex that a couple was usually having. The more children, the better,
  • Meaningful Name: If a cheap joke could be got out of a person's name, it was.
  • Mistaken for Badass:
    • A plot driver in Carry On Cleo where the escaped slave Hengist Pod is concussed hiding under a table while his badass neighbor, Horsa, takes out a squad of legionnaires and makes good his escape. With all the witnesses dead the authorities assume Hengist is the badass swordsman and he is made personal bodyguard to Julius Cesar... Hilarity ensues.
    • Another example in Carry On Cowboy when a stagecoach carrying Marshal P. Knutt and a young woman note  is attacked by outlaws. He shoots wildly while she kills them all and then lets everyone, including Marshal (yes, that's his name) believe he did it. He is mistaken for a lawman because of his name (he actually fixes drains) and is recruited to deal with a problem that some "rats" are giving the town.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Common in the period piece films. Then, the perpetrator would immediately reappear in the disguise.
  • My Local: Occasionally used as a setting for hijinks. To name a few: the unnamed pub that Vic owns in Abroad, The Old Cock from Dick, and the cafe that the cabbies meet up in between shifts in Cabby.
  • Naked Freak-Out: Barbara Windsor got this in just about every Carry On movie she was in. Also Patsy Rowlands in Carry On Matron. One of the many nurses in Carry On Nurse was stripped by the drunken men in her ward and tied to a bed.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Most commonly Barbara Windsor, alternatively Charles Hawtrey.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: A common theme with the punny names in the series. For example, a surgeon named Bernard Cutting from Carry On Matron and Dr Kilmore from Carry On Doctor.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: The trope shows up in just about every movie about the medical profession, starting with Carry On Nurse, featuring a night nurse who is overpowered, and stripped (down to her slip — it was 1959, after all) by the male ward patients.
  • Never My Fault: A Kenneth Williams character who was trying to suck up to a higher authority figure would commonly blame anyone around them if his plans to catch the villains failed.
  • Not Now, Bernard: Charles Hawtrey was most likely ignored by other characters whenever he had an opinion. He often ended up being correct.
  • Of Corsets Funny: The films of the '50s and '60s LOVED this trope, and it's unusual to find a film in the series that doesn't include a few jokes about some of the more ample cast members struggling with their corsetry.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations:
    • In Carry On Henry, Henry VIII meets Bettina, who's just returned from her family trip to Spain. They both discuss dancing customs over there as they dance.
      Bettina: You see, there's these two things...
      Henry VIII: Oh yes. I noticed those.
      Bettina: ...They're called castanets.
      Bettina: ...And all the time you're dancing, they keep knocking together.
      Henry VIII: Oh yes. I noticed that too.
    • In Carry On Camping, Peter visits an innkeeper to collect some milk, stating that he'd met his (now-pregnant) daughter on his last visit to the area.
      Peter: I was here before, you know. ...But you weren't here, though... just a young lady. And she gave me a bit.
      Innkeeper: [angrily] Oh, she did, did she?!
      Peter: [smiling politely] Oh yes. That's why I've come back for some more.
      Innkeeper: [fuming] I'LL KILL YOU!!!
      Peter: Oh, no disrespect, sir. I'm quite willing to pay for it, this time!
  • Only Sane Man: Bernard Cribbins was often this in his appearances, as well as Sid James, Eric Barker, and Barbara Windsor.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Bernard Bresslaw's dumb characters were like this.
  • Operation: Jealousy: When Sid never showed interest, his wife would flirt with another man in order to get this reaction.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: The films seemed to invert this trope by making swear words sound like normal conversation. To name a few, "the Blasted Oak", "the Bleeding Ceremony" and "the Old Cock" — the first and last being a street and a pub, and the one in the middle being the name of a wedlock ritual. Say these three phrases out loud like it's a parenthetical swear if you don't believe us.
  • Parody Names: Occasionally used; for instance in the Foreign Legion spoof Follow That Camel, the equivalent of Cigarette in Under Two Flags is called Corktip, as well as the lead named Bo West from Beau Geste, and in Don't Lose Your Head, the counterpart of The Scarlet Pimpernel is The Black Fingernail.
  • Period Piece: Much of the movie parodies.
  • Perma-Shave: In some movies in which the characters are stranded in a place with no food and civilization to find, the male characters mostly stay clean-shaven throughout.
    • Follow That Camel featured an aimless trek around the desert for at least a week but the Legion soldiers don't grow stubble or beards when it's highly unlikely that they took their razors with them.
    • Carry On Jack subverts this when the male cast have week-long stubble when they are stranded in a boat in the middle of the ocean. The Disguised in Drag Sally does not, which would've given the men a big hint that she is not a man, but they don't notice.
    • Carry On Again, Doctor appears to double subvert this. Jim Dale and Kenneth Williams are sent to a far-off island to be doctors for the villagers; both men grow a noticeable amount of stubble, however, they both spend at least a couple of weeks (in Williams' case, three months) on the island, yet they have stubble that you'd expect on men that haven't shaved in two or three days.
      • invoked It's also jarring to see this Special Effects Failure on Jim Dale — especially if you immediately see this movie after his cameo in Carry On Jack, in which his one-scene character had a face full of thick stubble (which was probably what he'd grown himself for the role).
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The 5'2 Kenneth Connor would be prone to this trope if his character called for it. It was invoked in Carry On Cleo, and played straight in Carry On Nurse.
  • Pretty Boy: Richard O'Callaghan and Jim Dale.
  • Punny Name: A staple of the series once Talbot Rothwell took over as the series' screenwriter.
    • Shamelessly indulged in for Carry On at Your Convenience. The toilet factory is run by W.C. Boggs and his son Lew (Lewis), with factory foreman Sid Plummer.
    • Other punny names were more suggestive, such as the slimming clinic in Carry On Again Doctor founded by Dr. Nookey with capital from Ellen Moore: the Moore-Nookey clinic.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic: The series had four comedies based around hospitals (Carry On Nurse, Carry On Doctor, Carry On Again, Doctor and Carry On Matron), featuring hijinks such as a man in drag as a nurse, a man suffering from pre-natal depression, someone getting injected in the bottom, and gangsters being chased by pregnant women.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Some of Sid's characters usually had this that were usually put against Kenneth Williams' version.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas were always quick to say that the movies they've released is because of this trope.
    • Everyone will be in a hospital at least once in their life which is why there's four medical comediesnote .
    • The Vacation Episode movies were based on popular holidays at the time they were released. The biggest examples are Carry On Cruising, which was made in a time when cruise holidays were typical of the British, and Carry On Abroad, when the British were going on packaged tourist holidays into Europe.
    • Carry On Spying happened because Goldfinger was being filmed near the Carry On Jack studio.
      • Most of the movie parodies were because of the originals either being made nearby or because of rumours of them being in production. Carry On Cowboy was made to rival a rumoured western movie being made by The Beatles.
    • The plot of Carry On Girls was based on the angry protests of women outside a popular beauty pageant in London over their disgust on implied female objectification in media.
    • Carry On Again Doctor could be seen as this as well, because it raised awareness of the media's ideology of hourglass-shaped women being better than the Hollywood Pudgy kind of women.note 
  • Recurring Riff: A jazzier version of the military march played to open and close Carry On Sergeant was used for the opening and closing credits for the following five films (beginning with Carry On Cabby, each film had a unique score composed by Eric Rogers).
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: This was also a common trope at times whenever there was a Love Triangle. The most glaring one was Carry On at Your Convenience when the pretty Myrtle Plummer had to choose between the soft-spoken boss' son Lewis Boggs and the lazy scheming Basement Dweller Vic Spanner.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In movies that feature a royal family, the monarchs would mostly get involved with the storylines and often controlled the army.
    • Carry On Up the Khyber had the Khasi leader of Khalabar organising his army (with the help of his warrior leader), and his daughter, the princess, helping the enemy when her father's back was turned.
    • Don't Lose Your Head had a British knight and a Lord saving rich French aristocrats.
    • Follow That Camel has the Arabian sheikh at war with the French Foreign Legion.
  • Sex Comedy: the premise of the series in the mid-'70s.
  • Sex Tourism: All of the vacation movies contained at least one or two characters who were only on holiday in the hopes of getting lucky with either their reluctant spouses or any attractive person that they meet up with along the way.
  • Shot in the Ass: Terry Scott's running gag.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Both Kenneth Connor and Kenneth Cope were often one of/the smartest of a group.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: These were common in the movies, mostly between either two young love interests or a married couple. The latter type was always from the husband, who usually "forgot" the kissing and went straight to the sex, which successfully shut their wives up. In many cases, it made the wives less frigid and much more open.
  • Silver Fox: Many of Sid James' characters when the series progressed, although, it was played more in a The Charmer sort of way.
  • The Smart Guy: Bernard Cribbins was the closest thing to this trope in the films he starred in, mostly because everyone around him made him look like this in comparison.
  • Smug Snake: Many of Kenneth Williams' characters.
  • Snobs Vs Slobs: A common theme in many of the films, which mostly linked with the growing issues of social class in Britain at the time, and was seen as the most relate-able humour that was around.
    • However, this caused a few problems when it came to releases. Due to the production team being right-wing, many of the working-class and "pauper" characters were often heavily implied to be the butt of the jokes, which didn't help when most of the audience of the series was, in fact, working-class as well. When Carry On at Your Convenience was released, many fans boycotted the series after seeing the negative portrayal of some of the characters that were meant to represent them.
  • Special Guest: There were several over the course of the series, leading to lots of tension over the guest's salary with the regular actors in the series. note 
    • Phil Silvers as a very Sgt. Bilko-esque Foreign Legion sergeant in Follow That Camel (a role originally intended for Sid James; writer Talbot Rothwell felt that Silvers would be ideal for the role when James proved unavailable).
    • Cecil Parker, who appeared in many blockbuster movies at the time, was promoted to And Starring credits — above regulars Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey — when he appeared in Carry On Jack, and was paid over £20,000 note  when all he did was appear in two scenes that book end the film and had less than ten lines.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Usually common in the period movies among British characters, but mostly made fun of.
  • Stocking Filler: Needless to say, the franchise made frequent use of the stocking filler during the early 60s, although the trope fell out of fashion as the miniskirt grew in popularity.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Kenneth Williams in Don't Lose Your Head and Carry On Dick.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Jim Dale, Richard O'Callaghan and Julian Holloway. Bernard Cribbins, to some extent.
    • In-universe, Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey.
    • Kenneth Connor and Kenneth Cope were shorter versions that portrayed this role.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Often had a duo in the movie. Variations include a married couple, two soldiers, two friends that will probably end up hating each other at the end, two friends that work together, and a person of higher authority and their underclass leader.
    • Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey commonly worked together.
    • Bernard Bresslaw alternated between Kenneth Williams and Sid James, depending on the film.
  • Title Drop: Often occurs near the end of the films. Carry On Cruising has one right at the end that is notable for how completely it fails to arise naturally out of the dialogue.
  • Trope Codifier: The confided Affectionate Parody because of their movies based on other films and genres; it also broke barriers between claims of copyright from Hollywood, who threatened to sue them, eventually losing their case in court.note  However, the movies were the Trope Maker of Awful British Sex Comedy (the confiders were Confessions of a... series) due to the use of explicit nudity in a time when British media was against it. Ironically, when the Carry On franchise did a parody full of blatant fanservice, it was called one of the worst in the series.
  • Undercrank:
  • Unfortunate Names: Cpt. S. Melly from Carry On England. The similarity to smelly is acknowledged in-universe.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: The cast played the same character types, more or less, regardless of setting. In fact, if one of the regulars is absent from a film, it's invariably easy to guess which role was written with him or her in mind (just to name two examples, Sgt. Sidney Bung in Carry On Screaming! was written for Sid James but played by Harry H. Corbett, while the foppish Professor Inigo Tinkle in Carry On Up the Jungle was written for Kenneth Williams but played by Frankie Howerd).
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment:
    • In Carry On Cowboy, Belle carries a tiny pistol in her cleavage.
    • Lady Joan Ruff-Diamond keeps a tiny pistol there in Carry On...Up the Khyber and promises to save a bullet for the rest of the British governors.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Much of Sid James' villainous roles.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Nearly every film featured at least one scene where a male character either lost or split his trousers or a female character lost her skirt or top.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?:
    • Near the end of Carry On at Your Convenience, following an uncharacteristically wild party, W.C. Boggs (Kenneth Williams) wakes up in bed with his secretary (Patsy Rowlands). When he asks her, rather nervously, whether they... you know, she looks smug and says that if he doesn't remember, she's not going to tell him.
    • This phrase is spoken word for word by Sgt. Bung in Carry On Screaming the morning after his nocturnal rampage as Mr. Hyde.
  • What's a Henway?: Many jokes in each movie are of this trope:
    • This from Don't Lose Your Head:
      Bidet: [under his breath in Camembert's ear] Pssst! ...Psst!
      Camembert: Lies! I've only had a couple!
      • The same sort of joke happens in Carry On Dick:
        Jock Strapp: [checking off his weaponry] Pistol...
        Desmond Fancey: Nonsense! I haven't touched a drop.
    • From Carry On at Your Convenience:
      W.C. Boggs: A fortune teller? Fakes, that's all they are, sitting there staring... in their crystal... what's-its-name.
      Sid Plummer: [helping him] Balls. note 
      W.C. Boggs: I quite agree!
    • From Carry On Up the Khyber':
      Sir Sid Ruff-Diamond: [gestures to a champagne bottle] Want some, Mr Belcher?
      Brother Belcher: [realises he can't hear the sounds of bombs anymore and cheers with delight] IT'S FINISHED!!
      Sir Sid Ruff-Diamond: No, there's still half a bottle here.
  • World of Pun: Actually quite restrained in its use of puns. For instance, Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo: "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in fer me!" note 
  • World of Snark: Every character made a snide comment or two in order to make the puns flow easily. One of the worst offenders was any character portrayed by Kenneth Williams, who would not only snark, but make aside glances and comments, roll his eyes within character eye-shot and even put on a Simpleton Voice to belittle the people he couldn't stand. Others included Sid James when he didn't get his own way, occasionally a Charles Hawtrey character would have their moments too whenever he suffered from Not Now, Bernard, and lustful female characters when they weren't being satisfied by their spouses.


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Alternative Title(s): Carry On


This is the Night for Love

Annie Oakley sings to the crowded saloon, and quickly turns it into a chance to flirt with notorious outlaw Johnny Finger, the Rumpo Kid, much to the jealousy of Belle Armitage.

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