Dame Barbara: New Carry On films may struggle to achieve success of originals

Replicating the success of the Carry On franchise will be difficult to achieve, star of the original comedy films Dame Barbara Windsor has said.

In May two Carry On films were announced after a 24-year absence – Carry On Doctors and Carry On Campus.

A total of 30 Carry On films were made between 1958 and 1978, with their innuendo-laden humour and sending up of British institutions reaching a peak of popularity in the 1960s.

The films, still regularly screened on TV, established the careers of some of Britain’s best-loved comedy actors, including Kenneth Williams, Dame Barbara, Sid James and Hattie Jacques and were all directed by Gerald Thomas.

Speaking at a charity lunch she was hosting for children’s charity Variety, 79-year-old Dame Barbara told the Press Association: “I just wish them all the luck because it would be something to find a Kenny Williams and a Sid James and the rest of it.”

The ex-EastEnders actress questioned whether the new films would be able to replicate the talent on show in the originals, saying: “I’ve never known such talented people in all my life. Quite frightening.

“They didn’t just do what you saw them do. Have they got those kind of actors who say ‘well I don’t just do that but I can do this as well’. Have they got that?

“And the producers who did them, boy, two takes and that was it. Top whack.

“They were so talented,” she added.

The first new film of the franchise, Carry On Doctors, will be written by Susan Nickson and Tim Dawson – the duo behind BBC sitcom Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps.

Pressed on whether The Great British Bake Off’s move from the BBC to Channel 4 is similar to the new Carry On instalments, Dame Barbara said: “I do agree on that. It’s a hard call, I’d want to stay with the original, that’s me.”

On the Bake Off move, she said: “I think you’re just making it a bit flaky. It’s BBC through and through.

“Channel 4 are very good and they do great stuff. They’ll have great people come into it, I’m sure they will, but there’s nothing like the original.”

The actress was speaking at the Radisson Blu Hotel in West London where she hosted 120 disadvantaged and disabled schoolchildren from London, Surrey and Kent as part of Variety’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Of the charity she has worked with for more than 30 years, Dame Barbara said: “They came along and asked me and I said I’d love to.

“You are made aware when you go into showbusiness of charity and you think here I am doing what I love to do and getting paid for it and so it’s so easy to get into charity.

“You don’t have to give a lot of time, just yourself.”

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