That's Carry On Trivia
Whilst fund-raising for Carry On England Gerald Thomas consulted Nat Cohen of EMI Distributors who, as Anglo Amalgamated, had released the first twelve Carry On films. Although, a Rank/EMI collaboration was never seriously on the cards for the military comedy, it probed a perfect ice-breaker for plans for a 20th anniversary compilation of classic Carry On moments. In November 1976 Gerald had met up with Nat Cohen at a film party and floated the idea. Producer Peter Rogers formally approached the EMI mogul with regards using clips from the early films and at the start of December he confirmed that “a ‘Carry On That’s Entertainment’ would be a good idea.” Rank and EMI joined forces to include material from the first 27 Carry On films and, despite an initial suggestion o allow a third, independent distribution company to release it, the Rank Organisation presented the film in theatres from February 1978.
The MGM compilation had astonished some critics by proving an international blockbuster in 1974. So much so that another compilation, That’s Entertainment II, was released in 1976. Peter Rogers originally sold his compilation to Rank with the title suggestion of That’s Carry On although Frank S Poole seemed unhappy with the title. The alternative, ‘The Best Of Carry On’ wasn’t considered viable either, particularly by Peter Rogers who was already contemplating a second compilation which he suggested, unfavourably, would have to be dubbed ‘Second Best’. Moreover in a letter dated 8th July Peter maintained that: “the ‘best’ is not everyone’s idea of the best…and now, when a certain comedy situation comes along they say, “That’s Carry On”.
The linking dialogue for the film was scripted by Tony Church who, for many years, had penned the outrageously punning trailers for the Carry On series. Kenneth Williams noted in his diary that he and co-host Barbara Windsor “altered a lot of the script and made it much more workable. The work was gruelling because there was no let-up – since we’re the only ones in it” although the following day he noted that: “I was surprised watching the rushes today. I looked very good, the light blue summer suit photographed well, the lighting was excellent, and the projection room looked very good.”
Although uninspired by most of the dialogue Kenneth was delighted enough with the experience to pen a letter of appreciation to Peter Rogers. He noted that: “It was lovely seeing you again at the studios…just like old times.” The assignment was also Kenneth’s most profitable, pro rate, role in the series. Filming took just two days, 12th and 13th July, in Pinewood’s Projection Room 7 and rewarded Kenneth with a ‘Special Fee’ of £2,000.
Prolific assistant editor Jack Gardner, who had worked on the Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas comedies since The Big Job in 1965, graduated to editor for this film because: “I knew the films so well.” He and Gerald Thomas took six weeks to select the best moments from the series “looking at every single Carry On film – sometimes three a day!...we made the mistake of joining all the clips up before editing and sitting in a theatre one day to watch it…it lasted six hours!”