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Carry On Regardless (Hardback)

Getting to the Bottom of Britain's Favourite Comedy Films

British History Social History 20th Century White Owl

By Caroline Frost
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526774781
Published: 5th May 2022
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #4

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"A thoroughly enjoyable fact-filled romp… a must-read for any fan of the Carry On films." - Daily Mail

"We knew the Carry On films without really knowing them. Caroline Frost puts that right. A fascinating story." - Adrian Chiles

"Essential reading for fans of the Carry On Films which were deceptively ahead of their times' - Tracy-Ann Oberman

The completely updated story of Carry On, Britain's largest film franchise, all the way from the gentle capers of the 1950s, through the raucous golden age of the 1960s, to its struggles in the years that followed.

We take a happy walk down memory lane to enjoy again Sid James's cheeky chuckle, Kenneth Williams' elongated vowels, Charles Hawtrey's bespectacled bashfulness and Barbara Windsor's naughty wiggle.

It all seemed effortless, but exclusive interviews with the series' remaining stars including Bernard Cribbins, Angela Douglas and Kenneth Cope shed new light on just how much talent and hard work went into creating the laughs. For the first time, the loved ones of some of the franchise’s biggest names - on and off screen - share their personal memories from this unique era.

Was Carry On really as sexist, racist and bigoted as critics claim? Three of the films' female stars explain why they never felt remotely exploited, plus we take a fresh look at some of the series' biggest titles and discover that, in reality, they were far more progressive than their detractors would have you believe.

Finally, with constant talk about new films, fresh productions and tantalising speculation about a brand new era of Carry On, we ask - does this unique series still have legs?

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Well researched book detailing all the films and the lives of the stars. As a big fan of the carry on films I really enjoyed this book. Bringing back great memories of great films.

NetGalley, Joanne, Butler

Article: 'The Carry On classics had substance as well as sauce'

The I Newspaper

Article: 'The Carry On Films Weren't Sexist'

The Times

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Firstly, I'm a huge fan of the Carry On films and their actors. I never tire of the bawdy not-politically-correct humor, filled with risque elements, double entendre comments, and saucy seaside postcard gags. A British institution for many years, still watched by generation after generation for its raw, sometimes slapstick but always funny humor.

As the book relates, it was a very different world sixty years ago when the first film arrived in our cinemas. The space race had begun as Sputnik 1 fell to earth and Elvis Presley joined the Army.

The book delves into the personal lives beyond the public and theatrical personas of the actors. Sometimes sad and sometimes happy but always interesting.
It is a beautiful tribute to post-war comedy cinema, well researched and written. Making it a joy to read for anyone interested in this series of comedic adventures.

In many ways, this is quite a sad tale as many of the actors who provided their audiences with so many laughs were quite sad and lonely in their personal lives. Definitely a recommended read.

NetGalley, Steve Cripwell

As featured on The Book Club podcast. Listen to the full interview with the author here.

The Book Club podcast by The Spectator

As featured in the article: 'Ooh err missus (or Ms): why the Carry On films are defiantly feminist'

The Sunday Post

Well researched and readable. Interesting chapters on some of the Carry On stars and how the films portrayed women. Don't go expecting a film by film precis and critique, however, you do get the author's view and that of many of those involved in the films. The recent interviews with surviving cast including Bernard Cribbins are a real treat and bonus.

Perfect read for anyone who has ever watched a Carry On.

NetGalley, Jason Ritchie

A must read for any Carry On film fan. Details, descriptions and photos from all the great classic films. Bringing back great memories and recollections of the comedy genius that is the Carry On franchise. Includes all your favourite Carry On actors - Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams. A real feel good book.

NetGalley, Emily Burrows

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An excellent dip into the world of the much-loved series and its regular cast of greatly missed comic icons.

NetGalley, Vanessa Rivington

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Love them or hate them the Carry On films, like Hammer horror, the James Bond films, and the Harry Potter franchise, form a huge chunk of British film and cultural history. Many of the stars of the films may be dead but the films themselves are immortal.
Caroline Frost's splendid book reads like a labour of love, perhaps rightly so, as the films were in many ways labours of love. It isn't about facts and figures, it's an insight into all that went into creating Carry On, the triumphs and the tears, the pain and the glory.
I knew Peter Rogers and Betty E. Box for many years. I'm sure they would approve and open a bottle of champagne to celebrate Caroline's book. Cheers Caroline!

NetGalley, Robin Price

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The completely updated story of Carry On, Britain's largest film franchise, all the way from the gentle capers of the 1950s, through the raucous golden age of the 1960s, to its struggles in the decades (not plural) that followed.

We take a happy walk down memory lane to enjoy again Sid James's cheeky chuckle, Kenneth Williams' elongated vowels, Charles Hawtrey's bespectacled bashfulness and Barbara Windsor's naughty wiggle.

It all seemed effortless, but exclusive interviews with the series' remaining stars including Bernard Cribbins, Angela Douglas and Kenneth Cope shed new light on just how much talent and hard work went into creating the laughs. For the first time, the loved ones of some of the franchise’s biggest names - on and off screen - share their personal memories from this unique era.

Was Carry On really as sexist, racist and bigoted as critics claim? Three of the films' female stars explain why they never felt remotely exploited, plus we take a fresh look at some of the series' biggest titles and discover that, in reality, they were far more progressive than their detractors would have you believe.

Finally, with constant talk about new films, fresh productions and tantalising speculation about a brand new era of Carry On, we ask - does this unique series still have legs?

A brilliant read for all fans of the carry on series.

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’m happy to go out on a limb and say that regardless of perceived criticism about sexism, racism, stereotypes etc etc, I love the Carry Ons. They’re fun. Take them for what they are and don’t ascribe the labels that condemn without first considering why they remain perennially popular. I saw my first Carry on at the cinema in 1958. As a kid, I loved The Army Game and Carry On Sergeant was a film extension of the tv series. It was funny and some 60 years on, it remains relevant and entertaining.

Caroline Frost’s book is filled with insight into a British Institution. Yes, it was formulaic. But a formula that worked. The first five films remain my favourite, but over the years I’ve better appreciated the spoof and high camp element of later productions which took a rise out of everything imaginable. At one level, the humour may appear lavatorial, sexist and stupid. But below that, it’s really very clever; sometimes satirical look at ‘our’ society. Imperialistic, petty, unionist, exploitative and superb parody. One liner after one liner gets laughs in film after film and the big surprise is the shoestring budget.

I absolutely loved this book. It puts every production, along with the cast, into perspective and adds a whole new dimension to the actors and writers. Packed with trivia, it’s actually an important slice of film history and one that also reflects social attitudes as they changed through the 1960s. If you’ve never seen a Carry On, read this and then watch a few and come to your own conclusion. If you like the films, there’s a lot of insight and detail about production values which I found engrossing. If you don’t like Carry Ons…you don’t understand what you’re missing.

Well researched and an easy and fascinating read, my thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley. Loved it.

NetGalley, Anita Wallas

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book has everything you need to know it’s interesting to read, from how the the films first started to the unlucky ones.

Reading this book, makes you want to visit the studio where all the films were made, and feel like you was there in between the characters.

It also mentions the wages they received and how women were treated in those films as well as how the audience would feel watching them if they were made still.

I recommend this book.

NetGalley, Meena Kumari

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful warm discussions and retrospective of the films. Especially loved the character spotlights, so many iconic actors with interesting stories. For a UK library this would be a must purchase. For an American audience it might be a little too niche, I'm an ex-pat so very familiar with the films. I absolutely loved it.

NetGalley, Andrew Tadman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Interesting and detailed
Everyone knows the ‘Carry On’s’ most of us loved/still love them and even if we don’t watch the whole thing we linger for 5 mins or so as while flicking through channels we see one appear, classic comedy moments and actors from a very different time, images and jokes that stay with us forever, oh they weren’t perfect, we know that but they made a lot of people happy for a long time and continue to do so, seemingly able to bypass the comedy PC revolution and ‘carry on regardless’
This book is fascinating, all films and big players talked about, from the inception to the ‘golden years’ to the last few ‘unfortunate’ films, everything you want/need to know is here and told in a warm, frank way
It made me want to go to Pinewood to look at the places these films were made in ( some still used to this day ) and you could feel the camaraderie that existed between the actors, it must have been great fun to be a part of
The author also writes about aspects such as actors pay, the treatment of women in the films and the PC world of humour now and how these films would fare now
A fascinating documentation of a comedy era long gone but still with us, very enjoyable read

10/10
5 Stars

NetGalley, Mark Fearn

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Getting abreast with the Carry on film franchise... Frost returns to those much loved bawdy British comic movies as made another time and place, but still enjoyed by many.

Carry on aficionados will have already noted that Caroline Frost’s book Carry On Regardless Getting to the Bottom of Britain’s Favourite Comedy Films (2022) takes part of its name from the fifth of this British comedy film franchise. The Carry on… film series was an impressive thirty-one stand-alone British film comedies released over five decades from 1958 to 1992.

These popular – and often topical – films tributed everyone from healthcare workers to taxi drivers, homaged the 1960s film about Cleopatra and lampooned those Hammer Horror and James Bond film series. Carry on films looked at the fun side of life be it camping, package holidays or cruising. It also returned to the historical – read hysterical – times of Dick Turpin, Henry VIII, the French Revolution and the British Raj. These very British films were mostly known for their double entendres of the saucy and bawdy kinds.

Surprisingly as an entertainment blogger, I’ve only reviewed five films so far – and another review is coming soon – of these personally loved comic movies. I say surprisingly, as my dad was a huge fan of this series. He was always tuning in to watch the repeats of the films and the TV specials. Although, my best memories are of him laughing at those comic antics on-screen and watching his favourite of this series, Carry on Kyber (1968). He shared his love for this franchise and its endless comic acting talents as in time we then pre-teenage daughters watched most of those films with him. This was even though those double entendres went over our wee heads.

The most famous and prolific cast members in this forty four year old franchise can be listed as Sid James, Jim Dale, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey. But back then so many then British comics joined them regularly including Terry Scott, June Whitfield, Angela Douglas, Liz Fraser, Benard Bresslaw and Kenneth Connors. Each of these cast members is remembered in their own unique way. Be it Sid’s laugh and Barbara Windsor’s giggle, Kenneth Williams’ many effortlessly accented characterisations or Charles Hawtrey’s and Bernard Bresslaw’s catchphrases.

So just seeing the fun innuendo-laden title – that the cast would have undoubtedly approved of – and the colourful film stills on the cover of Frost’s book, I was keen to add to my knowledge of this film series. Frost delves into the Carry on story on-screen and off-screen over 19 chapters and 232 pages. Also included in the book are individual biographical chapters of many key cast members, a list of TV show references and a detailed index.

I felt Frost’s love of this franchise from her warm and affectionate introduction to the end, where I’ll admit I cried after being overtaken by so many heartfelt memories. She sets the scene with some familiar comic memories of characters from the Carry on films. She then explains what this book is and isn’t, and tells that the book tells of,

… A celebration of a big screen phenomenon, a golden moment when cast and crew, stars and writers came together at the right time and place, to create something unique – not just in the history of British film, but across our broader culture.

She stresses that all of these films are of their time and it’s an important point that must be noted in watching their then content. I readily agreed with her that often their plots, treatment of women, characters’ portrayals and non-diversity in the cast seem politically incorrect today. But Frost feels many of these criticisms she feels “don’t hold up” now. It’s important to acknowledge that is that at the time – and often now – these were not issues for the cast, and Frost elaborates on and analyses these themes later in this book.

After this insightful introduction to the series, we join Frost as she travels from her Ealing home – which by coincidence was streets away from Sid James’ home – to Pinewood Studios where these films were made. She describes her joy at taking this journey to Pinewood studios – often the location for these film shoots – that he would have taken himself.

She describes this trip so vividly that you then feel you are her travel companion. On arriving at Pinewood studios, Frost then takes you on a mini-tour of Pinewood Studios pointing out street names and cast photos and then remembering films made in Heatherden Hall – the “beating heart of Pinewood Studios” – and its gardens.

Then she sets the historical context for these films as we go back to the year they began in 1958. This is by starting by looking at the worldwide situation more historically, then narrowing it, again and again, to end up at the then British pop culture. Frost mentions that the first Carry on film was released the same year as that kid’s programme – that is still produced today – Blue Peter (1958) began.

The book is then divided into chapters that outline this franchise’s detailed history in a linear fashion. These include an in-depth examination and analysis of the films and their characters, crews and casts. Each of these chapters is crammed full of quotes from these films and cast and crew members, anecdotes and well-researched and supported facts gleaned from TV shows and interviews and the cast’s autobiographies.

In these chapters, I learned some surprising facts such as a writer, who wrote five films in this film series and later had a career writing for American series also a writer and cast member in this series were Prisoners of Wars together. Another story tells how Charles Hawtrey got a lift to work from Sir Lawrence Olivier. Frost also conducted interviews with actors and actresses – such as Kenneth Cope, Angela Douglas and Valerie Leon – who had roles in these movies, and quotes from these add some unique and heartwarming contributions to this book.

There are also a number of chapters – titled Star Spotlight – which concentrates individually on many of the key cast members. These chapters include Sid James, Joan Sims, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey. These chapters are well researched and are factual biographies telling of their childhood, their acting career and their rich filmographies. These are embellished by quotes from the cast and their then acting peers.

These chapters also elaborate on their personal lives both before, during and after their Carry on careers. There are again new facts to learn, as I discovered Kenneth Williams worked with Orson Welles and Charles Hawtrey with Alfred Hitchcock. And the – now assumed unPC – way in which Hattie Jacques chose her stage name. To my joy, there was a chapter on the comic actress Joan Sims who was a much-loved actress in my childhood film and TV favourites. These chapters give a rounded tale of their lives and share both their good and bad times.

Frost also shares her own thoughts on this film series content with some deep analysis of the films. Her passion for these films is never more so evident than in her warm descriptions of those films, their plots and their characters. It’s clear she is a visual writer from her vivid descriptions. This is an essential attribute that makes her ideal as a film comedy and Carry on biographer! Anyone who – god forbid – muddles up Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey will then be more clear on this through her heartwarmingly accurate descriptions of their physical looks.

More personally, she adds a poignant anecdote from her childhood when she met Carry on actress Barbara Windsor after a British pantomime. This story Frost reflects back on with the insights and understanding of an adult. It happened at a time when she met this actress and Windsor was found crying off stage with a mutual friend. This was a difficult personal time as Windsor’s then-husband had been arrested earlier that day.

This story aptly stresses how professionally the cast often masked their often troubled lives. This true story and more tragic and controversial events in the cast’s lives were also relayed, but not analysed and this showed great respect from the author to her subjects.

Frost gives balanced arguments on those films which were unsuccessful by adding the positives that were then often overlooked. The most recent film, Carry on Columbus (1992) film is often slammed for its plot and use of more obvious innuendo. But now just reading Frost’s words as she tells how producer, Peter Rogers enjoyed working with these cast members again on a franchise he instigated and adored. This gave a new look at this troubled entry to the franchise which it’s noted made more money at the Box Office than the other films commemorating the 500 year anniversary of his arrival in America.

The book also is well researched and supported with quotes from Carry on cast members in a wide range of TV interviews from Michael Parkinson, Joan Rivers and more. Facts are also embellished by quotes from many books including the cast’s written autobiographies (particularly Kenneth Williams’ published diaries), crew biographies and interviews with surviving cast members, family and close family members (Peter Rogers godson adds his views).

There are thirty two on-screen and behind the scenes black and white photos featuring stills from a number of these movies. As a Carry on fan, it was wonderful to see so many unseen and now treasured photographs. These indicated the cast members’ clear mutual rapport and obvious joy in their work. Their camaraderie behind the scenes is visually seen in so many cast members photographed mid-laugh.

I only wish one thing from this book, that it had been one that I could have shared with my dad, who sadly passed away many years ago. Yet, reading between the lines of this book and then watching Carry on Matron (1972) soon after with my Darlin Husband, I felt like I was watching this film through both his and the author’s eyes.

Both knew those films so intimately and I watched this with more understanding of the film’s place in time, its adored characters and characterisations and its innuendo and in-jokes. Through Frost and this rewatch, I rediscovered his love for those films, and their legacy which have since their conception kept the British end up.

NetGalley, Gill Jacob

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was so excited to read this book when I saw this book! Carry On Regardless by Caroline Frost.
Now who doesn't love a Carry on film. I love them and was a great part of my childhood life; sitting with my mum, grandad and sisters all around our black n white television, all laughing at so many great scenes especially the Barbra Windsor scene with her boob flash! etc and now adult life sitting on a cold winters day watching them snuggled under a blanket. They never seem to age - not like me!!!!

This book was Brilliant from start to finish. It was full of history, stories about the carry on films, the characters, etc...

I recommend this book and a great present for a Carry on film fan.

NetGalley, Nessa Thompson

“I was once a weak man”.
“Well, once a week’s enough for any man”.

This and many other pearls of wisdom are to be found in the evergreen National Treasure that is the Carry On films. A phenomenally successful legend of British cinema, now a mainstay of Bank Holiday telly, no entendre was ever knowingly left undoubled by the likes of Sid James, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams. Many books have been written on them, but there’s always room for one more especially when they’re as good as Caroline Frost’s “Carry On Regardless”. (It takes its title from the fifth Carry On, which features Kenneth Williams taking a chimpanzee for a walk and attempting to hail a taxi only to be told by the driver -“I'll take you, but not your brother!”)
Frost takes a deep dive into the history of the Carry Ons from their genesis and early days in the late ‘50s, through its heyday in the ‘60s and it’s slow demise in the ‘70s, a decade which was certainly not the franchise’s golden age. She also examines the not-so-successful relaunch film “Carry On Columbus” and the many recent attempts to revive the series. Personally, I don’t think this should happen as a modern version could never match the sheer innocent fun of the originals.
The Carry Ons rarely get any kind of serious appraisal as the general consensus has always been that they were and are very lightweight, offensive rubbish, guilty of every “ism” under the sun, that belongs in the unenlightened past and which have no place in the “woke” future. However, Caroline Frost discovers that the films were far more progressive than they are given credit for.
There are many contemporary photographs and interviews with surviving cast members who offer a firsthand insight into what it was really like on the set of a Carry On. Part academic critique, part nostalgia-trip, this is a scholarly yet fun book, highly recommended.

NetGalley, Wyn Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A big fan of the carry on movies this was an interesting read that took me back in time when you knew that there was a new carry on movie to watch.

It was lovely to read about each individual cast member and what they went through filming each movie...who would have thought they had been on a tight ship and only ever filmed each movie on set...such is the glamour of a carry on star.

NetGalley, sue plant

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love the Carry On Films so was so excited to read this book. It gives really good feedback on the actors actresses funny moments really brought back memories.

NetGalley, Angela Stewart

If like me you have been brought up on the Carry On franchise then this is a gem of a book. It gives you insights and fact about the films and their stars and theres some great behind the scenes pictures. I did lots of reminiscing and there was so many, "oh I forgot about that one moments"! The only problem with this book is, I still cant decide which my favourite Carry On film is!

NetGalley, Zoey Arato

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

"Isn't it funny that a series called the Carry On films has stopped?" jokes the comedian, Tim Vine.
They in fact stopped a very long time ago now - in 1978 - but the public fascination with them has never ceased.

Although it doesn't gloss over the dark side of the series (the actors' terrible pay, the miserable off screen personal lives endured by Williams and Hawtrey), Caroline Frost's book remains an affectionate portrait.

NetGalley, Chris Hallam

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have very dear memories of “carry on” movie series, I was born in 1981, only watched the movies on the 90’s but this was the kind of humor that defined, what was funny for me, if you think about it, all comedies that were made in the 90’s almost seemed inspired in carry on movies, being sexy without being vulgar, even monty python took a great deal of inspiration in the carry on movies, this was when being funny was what people wanted from a comedy, not being political correct… women in carry on movies weren’t dumb pretty accessories, yes it could look like that, but in almost all the movies (the ones I saw, haven't watched all T_T) women are cunning and in many aspects they’re clever than men and use their wits to go on and about hahah, I remember watching “Carry On Spying” and the women were quite superior in all senses XD clever, brave, and even masterminds.

This book was written by a fan, someone that researched very carefully about this actors and actresses, and I am surprised and saddened by the fate of almost all T_T one would think they were so well know, that they would be rich, but no, and that is only a little bit of the problem… they were also repressed and forced to do all over again the same parts and the same things, yes it was great to be around friends, just like a family, but it would be great to be a little more appreciated… it was a kind of slavery, and I am happy and sad that I read this book, that I got to know so much more about all of this carry on family. I just wish I could have meet them all in person, not only through a screen.

I highly recommend this book in all instances, for people that know the movies, for people that don’t know the movies, but really want to know about people that were really brave and wanted to make others laugh, even today, more than 60 years from the first carry on movie, I know you’ll laugh out loud.

NetGalley, Marta Ribeiro

About Caroline Frost

CAROLINE FROST is a bestselling author, broadcaster and lifelong fan of the Carry On films. One of her earliest memories is of visiting Barbara Windsor backstage after the Christmas pantomime at Richmond Theatre, where the star sweetly let her try on her stage wig. Caroline lives in Ealing, West London where, almost every day, she passes the blue plaque marking Sid James's family home. In researching this book, she has once again laughed her way through all the films in the series.

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