Talbot Rothwell

1916 - 1981

Carry On Films: 20

Talbot Nelson Conn Rothwell was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1916. A born wit, he claimed to have cracked his first pun at age four; following an unsuccessful fishing trip he declared that "no newts is good newts." Whether due to his companions' reaction to such wit or not, Rothwell didn't come into showbusiness until much later in life. Nevertheless, the gag resurfaced in Carry On Matron.

Rothwell had a succession of jobs in his early life; town clerk, police officer and pilot, he showed no inclination at that time to pursue a career in showbusiness. During the Second World War, he was held in a German Prisoner of war camp for several years. During this time, he met fellow Carry On-er Peter Butterworth. Like Rothwell, Butterworth had no inclination at the time to go into the business, but the need to do something to break the isolation (and to cover the noise being made by escaping prisoners) prompted them both to work on the obligatory camp concerts, Rothwell as a writer and master of ceremonies and Butterworth as a performer. It was the start of a lifelong friendship.

Rothwell was already an established writer before joining the Carry On team. His previous work included scripts for the Crazy Gang and numerous highly popular radio stars (Terry Thomas, Arthur Askey and Ted Ray to name just three). He also had a number of stage comedies which had proved extremely successful; Queen Elizabeth Slept Here, Once Upon a Crime and Meet the Wife all enjoyed successful West End runs.

Rothwell offered Peter Rogers a script in 1963 entitled Call Me a Cab. This was at about the same time Norman Hudis had decided to leave for the USA. Although the script wasn't intended as a Carry On, it came at the right time, and had the right combination of characters and situations. The decision to rename the film Carry On Cabby was taken and the rest is history. Rothwell remained with the series for a further 19 films (not counting the Christmas specials he wrote and the stage play, Carry On London).

Under Rothwell's deft pen, the series moved away from the innocent bungling of the Hudis films into the more lewd, bawdy comedies that the series has more recently become famous for. He was the master of the double entendre and delighted in creating fast-paced gags and ridiculous characters with even more ridiculous names (The Khazi of Kalabar is just one).

Rothwell's comedy often walked the line between bawdiness and pornography, but it never crossed it; even as the films grew more adult in content, they were always aimed squarely at a family audience and never set out to offend.

Rothwell was awarded the OBE in 1977 for his services to the cinema industry; he was joined at the palace by fellow Carry On-er Frankie Howerd.

After retiring to Worthing in the late 1970s, Rothwell spent several years suffering a prolonged illness. He died on 28th February 1981 at his home. He was aged 64.



- Carry On Dick (1974)
- Carry On Christmas (1973) - TV
- Carry On Abroad (1973)
- Carry On Girls (1973)
- Carry On London (1973 - 75) - Stage
- Carry On Christmas (Carry On Stuffing) (1972) - TV
- Carry On Matron (1972)
- Carry On at Your Convenience (1971)
- Carry On Henry (1971)
- Carry On Loving (1970)
- Carry On Up the Jungle (1970)
- Carry On Christmas (1969) - TV
- Carry On Again, Doctor (1969)
- Carry On Camping (1969)
- Carry On Up the Khyber (1968)
- Carry On Doctor (1967)
- Carry On...Follow That Camel (1967)
- Carry On don't Lose your Head (1966)
- Carry On Screaming (1966)
- Carry On Cowboy (1965)
- Carry On Cleo (1964)
- Carry On Jack (1964)
- Carry On Spying (1964)
- Carry On Cabby (1963)
- Three Spare Wives (1961) - Stage
- Tommy the Toreador (1960)
- Stars in Your Eyes (1956)
- The Crowded Day (1954)
- One Good Turn (1954)