On Up The Khyber Trivia
- A Carry On first, at the time of filming. This
was the furthest the team traveled from Pinewood Studios. The Khyber
Pass is in fact Snowdonia in Wales.
- Peter Rogers was thanked by an Indian living in the UK
for showing them the 'old country', India. He said he recognised the
place at once. He didn't let on it was Wales.
- Whilst filming the famous eating scene at the end of
the movie, the actors were doing their best not to actually eat any of the
food and all the debris was falling in it.
Eventually they had to eat something, as they had pushed the food around the
plate long enough. The silence was eventually broken by Sid James
shouting "Bastards!". Gerald Thomas had stopped rolling the camera
a long time ago, and had left them to it.
- Rank, the distributors, wanted to call this Carry On
- With the first ‘official’ Carry On film still not
released by the Rank Organisation, the film was originally discussed simply
under the title of Up The Khyber. In a letter from producer Peter Rogers to
John Davis, the head of Rank, dated 22nd November 1967 the film was pitched
as “about the British “thin red line” antics in India”. Fearing that that
might dissuade financial backing Rogers closed with the point that the film
would utilise “all locations in and around Pinewood.” That was, however, an
empty promise. Famously, the film saw the Carry On cast and crew travel the
furthest a field from Pinewood in the history of the series. All the way to
the foot of Mount Snowdon in North Wales, in fact. The unit were posted
there for one week’s filming from 19th May 1968 and based at two hotels: The
Royal Victoria in Llanberis and The Royal Goat Hotel in Beddgelert Snowdonia
where, of the cast, at least Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey were
- As for casting, in the same letter to John Davis,
Rogers maintained that the film would star “my usual team of goons plus,
probably Frankie Howerd or someone.” In the event Frankie Howerd was
committed to the stage farce The Wind In The Sassafras Trees that had opened
in Coventry in February and was set to transfer to America to play Boston,
Washington and finally Broadway. The “someone” hinted at by Rogers was
originally scheduled to be comedy colossus Tommy Cooper who was offered the
role of the Fakir. Indeed, Talbot Rothwell’s original script introduced the
character with the coda: Wit is a very familiar face”. The part, with hefty
trims, was finally played by Cardew Robinson.
- Composer Eric Rogers once again delights in musical
in-jokes. The basic opening title theme is ‘Cock O’ The North’, a none too
subtle comment on the feared ‘devils in skirts’ of the film. Later, as Sid
James dictates his missive to Queen Victoria, a snatch of the ‘Letter Song’
from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is heard.
- The climatic dining room sequence, arguably Carry Ons
funniest and best remembered interlude, was less than glamorous to film.
Fuller’s Earth, as per usual on a film set, was used to double for the
falling masonry and great chunks of the stuff fell into the already
unappetising meal of boiled potatoes and ham set before the actors. During
post-production, on 9th November 1968, Roy Castle sent Gerald Thomas a
wickedly tongue-in-cheek telegram explaining: “Sorry cannot carry on today
have contacted [sic] fuller’s earth poisoning = keene and guests.”