The second-longest continually running UK film series, next to the James Bond films, will be getting a 21st Century makeover in the near future. The Carry On film series, which contains the largest number of films of any British series (31), began in 1958 with Carry On Sergeant, ending in 1992 with Carry On Columbus, produced to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. The 31 low-budget British comedy motion pictures also included four Christmas specials, a television series of thirteen episodes, and three West End stage plays. The films’ humor is best described as being in the British comic tradition of the music hall, innuendos and bawdy seaside postcards.
Many of the early films focused on various professions such as Carry On Teacher, Carry On Nurse and Carry On Constable while others clearly were tongue-in-cheek homages to current films such as Carry On Spying (James Bond), Carry On Screaming (Hammer films) and Carry On Cleo in 1964 after the Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor epic, Cleopatra.
Now, a quarter of a century after Carry On Columbus, the franchise is being revived with two new films, Carry On Doctors and Carry On Campus. With the franchise’s original writer, Norman Hudis, passing earlier this year at the age of 93, the two new installments will be championed by Hereford Films’ Jonathan Sothcott and Carry On Films’ Brian Baker who have secured the talents of Tim Dawson and Susan Nickson, who brought us BBC sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, to write the medically-themed first film, Carry On Doctors.
While the original films made massive stars of the likes of Kenneth Williams, Sid James and Barbara Windsor, producer of the new films are looking to stay true to their British heritage. “We are making a new entry in the series with love and care: it isn’t a remake or an attempt to reinvent the wheel. We won’t be trying to find new Sids or Kenneths — we’re looking to create a whole new ensemble of brilliant British comedic actors. No stunt casting. No big American stars. This will be British film at its best, as the truly remarkable heritage deserves”, said Sothcott. Early rumor mill speculation puts the brilliant Sheridan Smith (Jonathan Creek, Cilla, The C Word) in the mix to star. The fact that Sothcott’s Two Pints of Lager starred a relatively unknown Sheridan Smith doesn’t hurt in getting the rumor mill up and running.
The refreshing aspect to this is the complete understanding as to the Carry On legacy from the new team putting these new films together in the 21st Century. “These films are a part of British culture and to be carrying on the legacy of Norman Hudis and Talbot Rothwell is a thrill and a responsibility” said writing partner Dawson. “We intend to be sympathetic to the heritage whilst being unafraid to modernize the franchise for a whole new audience. This is my dream job.”
Look for Carry On Doctors sometime in 2017.