Carry On Camping

Dir: Gerald Thomas, 1969

9/10

Now Christmas has come and gone, I thought it was time to look at a series of films that feature heavily on British television during seasonal periods, the Carry On films.

The team are at it, once again, with their saucy postcard humour, cheap jokes and a plot that raises the eyebrows by today’s standards in the seventeenth entry into the series.

Sid Boggle (Sid James) and Bernie Lugg (Bernard Bresslaw) see a nudist film with their prudish and uptight girlfriends, Joan Fussey (Joan Sims) and Anthea Meeks (Dilys Laye).

Tittilated by the flesh on show, the boys take their girlfriends on a camping holiday to where the film was made, only to be disappointed that it isn’t a nudist colony at all.

However, a school camping trip arrives at the same time, headed by Dr. Soaper (Kenneth Williams) and the matron, Miss Haggard (Hattie Jacques).

Sid and Bernie see the girls and try to get lucky with two of them, Babs (Barbara Windsor) and Fanny (Sandra Caron).

Other campers include Peter Potter (Terry Scott) and his wife, Harriet (Betty Marsden), an enthusiastic camper with an annoying laugh and Charlie Muggins (Charles Hawtrey), a freeloading camper.

To be fair, when you’ve seen one Carry On film, you’ve seen them all. But that doesn’t stop them being any the less funny.

The Carry On series was built on innuendo and, with each successive entry, became more and more bawdier until it culminated with the disastrous Carry On Emmannuelle.

Carry On Camping is cheap and cheerful. The jokes are bad and, often, cringeworthy but director Gerald Thomas is able to bring the laughs out of its stars, with Sid James being the highlight.

His throaty cackle and lecherous looks aid James in the opportunity to play the dirty old man character like never before.

Bresslaw as the dim-witted friend, does his usual bumbling act, dropping himself and Sid into trouble with their girlfriends.

Camping has a very loose plot and is, really, used to link a series of bad puns and sketches.

Many characters are invented, purely, to help give a cheap laugh. Peter Butterworth as the campsite owner Josh Fiddler, causes a collective groan in the audience when James is informed by a workman that he’s “gone for a pee”, only to have Butterworth turn up with the letter ‘p’ for a sign that is being made.

The humour is immature and puerile, but it works. It’s obvious that the gang have a lot of fun saying the lines and playing the characters.

Everything about the Carry On films was played in total innocence. There was no intention to be provocative or controversial. They had one sole aim and that was to make you laugh, anyway they could.

However, it does have to be said that the films haven’t survived the influx of political correctness and the dark activities that take place in contemporary society.

The plot is something that you could never get away with, today. Two grown men in their forties and fifties, chasing after sixteen year old schoolgirls, making lascivious comments about their boobs and spying on them in the shower, would be frowned upon if an attempt was made to film this, now.

When you look at it from this perspective, the majority of the men were, actually, nothing more than perverts with an unhealthy fascination for schoolgirls, intent on grooming them for sex.

But, none of that occurred to anybody in the sixties. It was just about randy old blokes, trying to get their end away.

In the context of today, with the dark web and such, the film is very questionable. However, that didn’t exist in 1969 and words like paedophilia and “barely legal” were not bandied about and, possibly, not understood by the majority of the population.

Carry On Camping is all about getting as many jokes as you can and causing as many guffaws as possible.

Being a staple of British culture, the films are routinely shown on UK TV. Despite the ‘PG’ certificate, this, particular, film begins with a load of topless women on a cinema screen. Primarily thought of as “family entertainment”, the stations broadcast the film during the day so, inevitably, edit out the opening scene which ruins some of the jokes.

All in all, a decent entry, that’s just the right length (snigger, snigger).

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