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Series / Carry On Christmas

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What a lovely pair of Christmas baubles.

With the success of the Carry On... Series movie series and its continuously-laughing audiences, it was unsurprising that the franchise branched out to television as well. Before the series Carry on Laughing! in 1975, there were four seasonal specials collectively called Carry On Christmas, which had the same atmosphere and motifs of the popular movies.

Unlike the film series, the Universal-Adaptor Cast trope was used but on a much smaller scale. These specials were notable for the absence of Kenneth Williams, who appeared in the most movies (26 out of 31) in the franchise. The actor that appeared in these TV shows the most Barbara Windsor, who appeared in every episode. The rest of the recurring actors from the movies included Sid James, Peter Butterworth, Joan Sims, Kenneth Connor, Terry Scott, Bernard Bresslaw, Jack Douglas, Charles Hawtrey and Hattie Jacques. The production team was also changed as well: although film producer and director Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas, and scriptwriter Talbot Rothwell were about during the specials' production, distributor Thames Television used a handful of their staff to take over for TV, crediting the three original men in some specials as "comedy consultants".

The four specials ranged from a series from Christmas-based sketches to Whole-Plot Reference and Affectionate Parody. Many are divided over which special is the best, with critics claiming that the first and the last were the best in the series, which were both written by Talbot Rothwell. Despite this, it is a victim of Fanon Discontinuity with many, along with Carry On Laughing!.

The specials

  • Carry On Christmas (1969) — based on A Christmas Carol
  • Carry On Again Christmas (1970) — based on Treasure Island
  • Carry On Christmas (1972) — Series of Christmas-based sketches
  • Carry On Christmas (1973) — series of Christmas-based sketches

The most infamous sketch from the series is Bad Santa, in which Sid James (dressed as a Mall Santa) flirts with an outgoing 13 year old girl portrayed by Barbara Windsor, while her mother Joan Sims is watching, notorious for its Values Dissonance.


  • Abhorrent Admirer: A mild version with Cinderella's ugly stepsisters, to Scrooge.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: One of the stories told at the dinner party in the 1972 special is about Adam and Eve. Adam is desperate to have sex with Eve, but Eve assumes that he wants a fig leaf to cover his naked body.
  • All Just a Dream: Scrooge wakes up from the tale of Dr Stein awakening his Monster and assumes he's had a nightmare.
    Scrooge: I shouldn't have eaten cheese before I went to bed. I should've kept it in the mouse trap.
  • Aside Comment: A lot of these occur in the show, mostly for a knowing joke to the audience.
  • Back from the Dead: In a Deus ex Machina fashion, Long John's first mate, who he drove over a cliff in order to have the treasure for himself, reappears with no explanation to catch John trying to steal the treasure from Ben Gunn and the rest of the marooned crew.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Frankie Howerd's appearances are mostly stand-up routines to the audience within the sketches he's in.
    • In the 1969 special, his girlfriend faints, and he tells the audience to look at how exhausted she is, the camera flashes on her for not even a second, and Mr Browning comments on it.
      Mr Browning: Wow. That was a quick look, wasn't it? What are you trying to do? Save on film?!
    • As the Fairy Godmother in the same special, he moans about he shouldn't have accepted the role, and saved it for a better actress that was considered.
  • Christmas Carolers: Appear a lot in the series. In the 1970 special, carollers get drenched in water from chamber pots thrown from the top floor of houses.
  • Christmas Episode
  • Clip Show: A sort, with every special being one except the 1970 episode. Despite having a main story-line, the 1969 special is mostly unrelated sketches that are loosely tied in with the Scrooge plot (he usually cameos at the beginning or the end of the sketch, or if characters mention him visiting, before it cuts back to his bedroom).
  • Dirty Old Man: Sid, who notably plays characters like this that are worse than the ones he portrays in the films.
  • Disguised in Drag: Jim Hawkins is actually a girl in disguise. She tells Silver that her mother made her and her sister pretend to be boys so that they could survive working without perverted men troubling them.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the 1969 special, Cinderella is visited by a genie and a fairy godmother, portrayed respectively by Charles Hawtrey and Frankie Howerd. They argue over who came first and who had the better powers to get Cinderella to the ball, leading to the genie stating that "if [the fairy godmother is] the fairy, then I'm the queen!"
  • Dracula: Dr Frank N. Stein's partner in the 1969 special.
  • Dumb Muscle: Long John's first mate has shades of this.
  • Framing Device:
    • The 1969 special has Scrooge learning the error of his cruelty as ghosts show him the effects of his emotional abuse.
    • The plot of the 1972 special is an aristocratic dinner party in which the guests are competing over who can tell the best story.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: The monster that Dracula and Frank N. Stein create. They resurrect it and the monster chases Frank around the room.
  • Godiva Hair: Eve in the Adam and Eve sketch from the 1972 special.
  • Hey, You!: In the 1969 special, one of the ugly stepsisters refer to Cinderella as this.
    Cinderella: Who are you talking to?!
    Ugly stepsister #1: You're called "You"! Aren't you?!
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The schoolgirls in the 1969 special.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: This, along with Visual Pun, is littered throughout the specials. Even more than the movies.
  • Invisible Holes: Mr Browning gets shot in the chest and he has a melodramatic stagger around the room. He gets to the sofa and moans about how his girlfriend's still sitting there, before collapsing on the floor in front of her. No blood or gunshot wound in sight.
  • Jacob Marley Warning: In the 1969 special, Charles Hawtrey portrays a character like this, combined with the Ghost of Christmas Past, who carries around chains.
  • Jerkass:
    • Scrooge in the 1969 special, unsurprisingly. At the beginning of the special, he is seen stealing money from a beggar with a cane.
      Beggar: [crossly] That's my only methods of support!
      Scrooge: Well, you won't be needing that then, will you? (throws the beggar's cane on the snowy ground)
    • Long John Silver in the 1970 special, who leads his partner to the edge of a cliff so that he didn't have to share the potential treasure with anyone else.
  • Laugh Track: One of the gimmicks of this show was that it was filmed like a sitcom in front of a live studio audience.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Dr Stein (as a wolf man) greets Fanny, she doesn't recognise him. Dracula feeds him an antidote and he ducks on the floor. Dracula tells Fanny that "he's gone to change".
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: In the 1969 special, the Present ghost visits Scrooge, and Scrooge can't take his eyes off her.
    Scrooge: Can you hurry up? I'm getting hot under the collar.
    Ghost of Christmas Present: There's two things that stick out a mile...
    Scrooge: That's what's getting me hot under the collar.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
  • Really Gets Around: The stepsisters accuse each other as this during arguments.
    Ugly stepsister #2: I'm not taking this lying down.
    Ugly stepsister #1: If you took that attitude more often, you wouldn't end up doing so.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Cinderella sketch from the 1969 special, and the introduction to the 1970 special has dialogue is full of this.
  • Sailor Fuku: What the schoolgirls in the carol singing choir are wearing during the dance sequence in the 1969 special.
  • The Scrooge: Scrooge in the 1969 special.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Robin Hood with his arrow in the 1973 special.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Mr Browning and his girlfriend, who has an Overprotective Dad. This leads to Mr Browning visiting her by dressing as Santa and throwing himself down the living room chimney.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Parodied in the 1970s special, since none of the pirates talk like this.
    Long John Silver: Why are you going "ahh!" and "ooh!"?
    Pirate: I've got a toothache.
    Long John Silver: [sympathetically] Ooh...
    Pirate: [in pain] Arrgh!!
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The 1970 special, based on Treasure Island.