Carry On films remakes: 5 reasons why it just won’t work

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
6 Min Read

It seems there’s a new whisper floating about a Carry On film reboot every couple of years. Each time, the rumour brings a collective shudder through the fandom. While some may welcome a fresh take on the beloved classics, the consensus is that a reboot is a decidedly dodgy proposition.

The Carry On films were a collection of 31 British low-budget comedy flicks that aired between 1958 and 1992. These films are quintessential British humour – cheeky, outrageous, and saucy, delivering a belly laugh a minute. They’ve become the stuff of legend, giving us timeless one-liners and characters we’ve come to adore but the idea of them being remade is very problematic. So, we will break it down for you five solid reasons why a Carry On remake won’t work.

1.The Cast Were a Unique Bunch of Characters
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The Carry On cast was a who’s who of comic geniuses. Sid James with his unforgettable laugh, Bernard Bresslaw’s towering presence, Kenneth Williams’ posh yet utterly barmy antics, Charles Hawtrey’s innocent facade, Hattie Jacques’ stern matron, Joan Sims’ wonderful caricatures – it was an ensemble like no other. These weren’t just actors, they were characters in their own right, bringing their unique personality to the film.

Fast-forward to today and, though we have a slew of talented actors, they simply aren’t cut from the same cloth. You might argue that David Walliams or Sheridan Smith could bring some of the old Carry On magic back, but they are part of a different generation. The unique chemistry, the almost improvisational style, and the sheer personality of the original cast simply cannot be replicated by today’s actors.

2.The Flop of Carry On Columbus in 1992

In the early 90s, Carry On attempted a comeback with “Carry On Columbus”, and let’s just say it sank faster than the Titanic. The plot revolved around Christopher Columbus, played by Jim Dale, trying to find an alternative route to the Far East, with a gaggle of new comedy talent on board, like Rik Mayall and Julian Clary.

Despite featuring some old Carry On favourites, the film was a disaster. It was dubbed a “flaccid, feeble comeback effort” by Michael Dwyer in The Irish Times, and was voted the worst British film ever made in a 2004 poll. The reason? It simply lacked the “Carry On formula”, the perfect blend of sauciness, slapstick, and silliness that made the originals so beloved.

3.Humour that could be Seen as Racist/Sexist

The Carry On films were a product of their times, reflecting the less politically correct climate of the era. The brand of humour Carry On employed, full of innuendos, cheeky winks, and slapstick, might not sit well with the modern audience. To update the films’ humour to meet 21st-century sensibilities would be to lose its trademark flavour.

Carry On’s humour was its cornerstone, selling point, and heart. To strip that away would be to strip Carry On of its identity. There’s a good chance the new films would end up as watered-down versions, lacking the spirit of the original, and let’s be honest, who wants that?

4.Carry Ons Reflected the Culture of the Time (in the main)

Beyond the laughs, Carry On films offered a snapshot of British society of the time. They highlighted the era’s social norms, attitudes, and even prejudices. They were, in their own madcap way, a cultural commentary that can’t be replicated in a modern setting.

The modern Carry On film would inevitably be influenced by today’s cultural climate, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it would undoubtedly lose some of its original charm. It would no longer be a Carry On film, but a comedy film trying to wear the Carry On label.

5.The Absence of Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas

Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas were the driving force behind the Carry On series. They created these gems on a shoestring budget, a feat that’s near impossible today. The absence of their touch is perhaps the biggest challenge a reboot faces.

The pair were instrumental in shaping the Carry On films. They had a special working relationship, understanding the balance between budget constraints and creativity. A modern Carry On film, even with top comedy actors and a hefty budget, would struggle to replicate the charm and spirit of the original films.

Based on the five points we have made, the very idea of a Carry On reboot is fraught with problems. The Carry On films were of their time, made by a unique group of actors under the guidance of a special duo, all adding to a magic that’s not easily replicated. Any attempt to reboot the series is likely to end up like Columbus – lost at sea.

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