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Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)
Directed byGerald Thomas
Production CompanyRank Film Distributors
Produced byPeter Rogers
Screenplay byTalbot Rothwell
Director of PhotographyErnest Steward
MusicEric Rogers

Cast: Sidney James (Sid Plummer), Kenneth Williams (W.C. Boggs), Charles Hawtrey (Charles Coote), Joan Sims (Chloë Moore), Hattie Jacques (Beattie Plummer), Bernard Bresslaw (Bernie Hulke), Kenneth Cope (Vic Spanner)

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The fortunes of W.C. Boggs and Son, manufacturers of fine toilet ware, hang in the balance as the factory is crippled by petty union disputes. Will the annual work outing to Brighton reunite the workforce or is there a spanner in the works?

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In Carry On at Your Convenience (d. Gerald Thomas, 1971), the Carry On team found the perfect setting for their lavatorial humour: the toilet factory of W.C. Boggs and Son. However, the comedy of bodily functions is largely superseded by anti-trade unionist sniping, as the economic problems of the early 1970s are reduced to the struggle between traditional industry, petty and disruptive trade unionism and the disconcerting forces of modernisation.

The film reunites cast stalwarts such as Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey - though with uneven results. This is a disappointment, as the Carry On series tends to shine in hierarchical institutions, where the presence of strict codes of conduct and authority figures encourages anarchic behaviour. In this case the factory setting enables the main storylines to revolve around industrial conflict.

Here the main antagonism is between factory owner W.C. Boggs (Kenneth Williams), shop steward Vic Spanner (Kenneth Cope) and boss's son Lewis Boggs (Richard O'Callaghan). Spanner's unpopularity extends to his fellow workers, who dislike his tendency to call strikes over the most trivial of matters. Even the classic Carry On narrative tool of the "right good booze-up" to remove inhibitions and resolve social divisions cannot redeem Spanner, as the drunken delights of a trip to Brighton serve only to unite the other characters against him.

The introduction of bidets to the production line leads to yet another strike, which, with a classic Carry On comic twist, is ended by the disgruntled female characters, led by Vic's formidable mother, Agatha Spanner (Renée Houston). Vic receives the ultimate comeuppance, not only losing his battle with management, but also being bent over his mother's knee and spanked.

All of the characteristic Carry On elements: its actors, characters and narrative and comic conventions are recycled once again in this film. The seaside outing even returns the series to its comic roots in the McGill seaside postcard - a world populated by hen-pecked husbands, battleaxe wives and busty girls, enlivened by sexual innuendo and visual puns. Nevertheless, the film was a box office flop: the first sign of the series' decline, indicating that its coy humour was starting to look dated in more permissive times.

Ruth Stevens

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Video Clips
1. Down with 'em! (4:24)
2. Everybody out! (2:07)
3. The fortune teller (2:05)
4. Breaking the strike (3:09)
Production stills
Bresslaw, Bernard (1934-1993)
Hawtrey, Charles (1914-1988)
Jacques, Hattie (1922-1980)
James, Sidney (1913-1976)
Roome, Alfred (1908-1997)
Rothwell, Talbot (1916-1981)
Scott, Terry (1927-1994)
Sims, Joan (1930-2001)
Thomas, Gerald (1920-1993)
Williams, Kenneth (1926-1988)
Carry On