Dir: Gerald Thomas, 1976
Amazingly, the Carry On team were able to churn out twenty seven films in sixteen years.
What isn’t so amazing, is that number twenty eight in the much loved series, is a diabolical excuse for a comedy, let alone a Carry On.
By 1976, the Carry On films were finished. Producer Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas, were flogging a dead horse. The duo couldn’t keep up with the changing times, and with the death of Sid James, the final nail in the coffin was hammered.
However, let it not be said that Rogers and Thomas weren’t tenacious. Two more films were limply rolled out, to disastrous reviews and performances, and one of them a was a “best of”.
Filling the roles, were a lot of new faces making their one and only appearance in the series. But, it wouldn’t be a Carry On without the odd familiar face. Kenneth Connor gets to enjoy the only time he received top billing, with Joan Sims, Peter Butterworth and Jack Douglas rounding out the regulars.
Patrick Mower (later to star in the soap opera Emmerdale) heads the cast of new comers, but he isn’t quite right for the film. In all fairness, Mower can’t be blamed for this, as the problem is with the script and the responsibility for that, lies with writers David Purcell and Jack Seddon. Whether any of them had ever seen a Carry On film is questionable, as nothing about Carry On England resembles anything that came before.
However, to lay the blame entirely at their feet is a little unfair. Confessions Of A Window Cleaner had proved to be a big hit, with its overtly sexual tone and naked women. Both Rogers and Thomas wanted in on the success, and made a conscious effort to make this Carry On a bit more adult without going too far.
More breast nudity and a joke about a fokker, pushed this into ‘AA’ territory. In the series’ former years, cuts were imposed to secure the more family oriented ‘A’ certificate. But, realising they had to up their game, happily accepted the restrictive category.
It was a bad move on their part, as Carry On England was pulled after only three days in some cinemas. The disastrous performance at the box office, compelled Rogers and Thomas to censor the film and re-release it with the ‘A’ certificate, in line with the earlier entries.
But, no amount of editing could salvage this film. It’s dreadful from start to finish. The jokes just aren’t funny. A staple of the series, was the sauciness. But, that has been replaced with smut and vulgarity.
Despite featuring Carry On regulars, it doesn’t feel like part of the franchise. Connor and Sims et al, look out of place. The film doesn’t measure up to the earlier entries, in tone or style.
There is much debate among fans, as to which is worse; this or Carry On Emmannuelle. In truth, there’s very little in it. Both are terrible, and to create a distinction between the two is impossible.
Dire and depressing, Carry On England is an embarrassing and cringeworthy calamity, that should never have gone further than an idea.