Carry On Christmas

4 December 1969
9.15pm, ITV
Thames TV Production

Screenplay: Talbot Rothwell
Producer: Peter Eton
Director: Ronnie Baxter

Ebenezer Scrooge...Sid James

Dr Frank N Stein, Convent Girl, Mr Barrett, Baggie...Terry Scott

Spirit of Christmas Past, Angel, Convent Girl, Buttons...Charles Hawtrey

Elizabeth Barrett, Nun, Passer-by...Hattie Jacques

Cinderella, Fanny, Spirit of Christmas Present...Barbara Windsor

Bob Cratchit, Frankenstein's Monster, Spirit of Christmas Future, Convent Girl, Town Crier, Policeman...Bernard Bresslaw

Dracula, Beggar, Convent Girl, Haggie...Peter Butterworth

Robert Browning, Fairy Godmother...Frankie Howerd

 

The Story

The success of the Carry On films meant that a transfer to the small screen would become inevitable, and with a cast uniformly accustomed to the constraints of the TV studio it could barely fail. Add a sparkling script by Talbot Rothwell to the mix and you've got a winning formula.

Carry On Christmas was the most watched programme over the 1969 Christmas period, watched by an impressive 8.1 million viewers.

Carry On Christmas is a spoof on Dickens' immortal "A Christmas Carol", with Sid (who else?) playing the part of Scrooge as he is haunted by three typical Carry On ghosts. Scrooge is shown the consequences of his meanness in a series of sketches, interspersed with wonderful little gags like the schoolgirls dancing in the street (featuring a star turn by Charles Hawtrey).

Sid, as Scrooge, is the only constant factor throughout the piece, while all the other regulars indulge in all manner of odd and hilarious characters and goings on in three main sketches:

The Ghost of Christmas Past tells of Sid's refusal of a loan to a certain Dr Frankenstein

The Ghost of Christmas Present deals with the tale of failed poet Robert Browning

The Ghost of Christmas Future is the traditional Cinderella pantomime, complete with two of the ugliest sisters you could ever imagine!

   

 

Comments

It's no surprise that Carry On Christmas was voted "Most wanted item of Carry On Memorabilia" by the readers of this very site - it is, without a doubt, one of the single highlights not only of the Carry On films but of British TV comedy in general. From beginning to end, this is a tour-de-force; everyone involved is clearly having the time of their lives, from Charlie's ridiculously camp genie through to Frankie Howerd in general. He simply steals the whole show.

Frankie appears twice. His first sketch, playing Robert Browning opposite Hattie and Terry Scott, comes to a dead halt about 3 minutes in when Frankie decides to show off. He leaves poor Hattie behind and walks out into the audience to do his own thing for a bit. Sheer magic. Hattie's reactions, in the background, are wonderful. Later, he appears as a genie, dolled up and acting like a lady of questionable virtue. There's no doubt, Frankie is the star of the show.

That's not to detract from the obvious contributions of his fellow stars. Sid is in solid form, Babs is her bubbling best and Charlie's had one too many sherries. Throw in Bernie, Peter Butterworth, Hattie Jacques and Terry Scott and you've got something very special. Out of all the televised Carry Ons, this is by far and away the best. Personally, I'd rate it higher than some of the films, too.