Carry On is a long-running series of low-budget British comedy films, directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers. They are an energetic mix of parody, farce, slapstick and double entendres.
Twenty-nine original films and one compilation film were made between 1958 and 1978 at Pinewood Studios, with an additional film made in 1992. The films relied on a repertoire of comedy actors which changed gradually over the years. The mainstays of the series were Kenneth Williams (26 films including the compilation "That's Carry On"), Joan Sims (24), Charles Hawtrey (23), Sid James (19), Kenneth Connor (17), Hattie Jacques (14), Bernard Bresslaw (14) and Barbara Windsor, (10 including the compilation "That's Carry On"). Comedy legend Frankie Howerd is also associated with the Carry Ons, but only appeared in two films (Doctor and Up The Jungle) and the 1969 Christmas TV special.
The films' humour was in the British comic tradition of the music hall and seaside postcards. Many of them parodied more serious films - in the case of Carry On Cleo (1964), the Burton and Taylor film Cleopatra (1963).
The mainstay of Carry On humour was innuendo and the sending-up of British institutions and customs, such as the National Health Service (Nurse, Doctor, Again Doctor, Matron), the monarchy (Henry), the Empire (Up the Khyber) and the trade unions (At Your Convenience) as well as the Hammer horror film (Screaming), camping (Camping), foreigners (Abroad), the seaside (Girls), and caravanning holidays (Behind) among others. Although the films were very often slated by the critics, they were popular.
The series began with Carry On Sergeant (1958), about a group of recruits on National Service and was sufficiently successful that others followed. A film had appeared the previous year under the title Carry On Admiral; although this was a comedy in a similar vein (with Joan Sims in the cast) it has no connection to the series. There was also an unrelated 1937 film Carry On London, starring future Carry On performer Eric Barker.
The characters and comedy style of the Carry On film series later moved into shows in other media. There was a television series titled Carry On Laughing, and several Christmas specials. There were also three stage shows: Carry On London, Carry On Laughing and Wot a Carry On In Blackpool.