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KS3 History: Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)

A comic take on Anglo-Indian relations offers a novel way of introducing the British Empire

Main image of KS3 History: Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)
Author Rebecca Cramer, Lea Valley High School
TopicBritish Empire, rule in India
Key WordsEmpire, military supremacy, Raj
Curriculum links QCA KS3 History, Unit 14: British Empire; NC KS3 History, Britain 1750-1900

Part of the Carry On...series of films, Carry on...up the Khyber is a zany look at Britain's colonial past that pokes fun at the revered British values of restraint and decorum and, by implication, class.

This clip, which shows Lord and Lady Ruff-Diamond at a polo match also attended by the fictional Khasi of Kalabar, offers a comic take on the Anglo-Indian relations - highlighting mutual distrust between powerful Indian figures and British rulers. You might find elements of the dialogue a little risqué so please watch before using, but the clip affords a quick, playful way into looking at a number of issues surrounding imperial rule.



Students should be briefed before watching that Carry On...films were parodies in a similar vein to more recent films like Scary Movie, and often chose to send up traditional British institutions.

Students should be familiar with the term 'Empire'. Explain that you will be exploring two main questions: How was it that, by 1900, Britain controlled nearly a quarter of the world and what impact did Britain have on the countries it ruled over?

You will also need to explain this short clip is a comic and very unreliable take on British rule in India but that it will get them thinking about the topic!

Whilst playing the Anglo-Indian relations clip, pupils should note down what they can see and infer (ie. there were powerful Indian rulers, polo is being played, the British relied on military power). This note-taking should include any keywords they hear eg. British military supremacy. The teacher should then lead a word pool of all the pupils' ideas on the board, before the class distinguishes between what might be useful and what is purely there for comedy value.

Some elements will need to be dissected. For example: Lord and Lady Ruff-Diamond are clearly not representative of British imperial rulers, but positions of power within the Empire were given to members of the aristocracy. Other points can be expanded on. For example: the action takes place at a polo match, which provides the basis for exploring the sport and the Empire. Polo was discovered in India by British tea planters and made it's way back to Britain, whilst the British exported cricket to India...


Some more ideas

  • Challenge students to re-write the scene, or portions of the scene, so as to make it suitable for a historical drama. This might work best as a plenary.
Video Clips
1. Anglo-Indian relations (2:15)

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968)

Read more about this film

See also