Not to be confused with the series of compilations from the Carry on films that is still being repeated today, the episodes of this 1975 series were 13 brand spanking new Carry Ons made for the small screen. Unfortunately, even by Carry On standard they were not particularly good. After four successful Christmas specials, and with the film series cutting down from two to one per year, most of the regulars were willing to appear in these 30 minute spoofs. Only Kenneth Williams refused to do television and Charles Hawtrey had left the series after 'Carry on abroad' (1972) because of a billing dispute.
Interestingly enough, some of the biggest stars in the Carry On menagerie made their last appearance on this show. Sid James, Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor starred in several episodes after their last cinematic appearance in 'Carry on Dick' (1974. Technically, Babs did co-present 'That's Carry On' in 1977 but she made her final acting contributions on 'Laughing'. Each naughty stand alone story was filled to the brim with one liners, innuendo and double entendre's. Naturally they ranged in quality: a few actually had something that could pass for a plot, while others were just one long sketch.
Spoofing famous books, plays or films not yet covered in the movies, the targets included the court of King Arthur twice and no less than three take offs on the 1920's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. This trio ('The Nine Old Cobblers', 'The Case of the Coughing Parrot' and 'The Case of the Screaming Wrinkles') starred Jack Douglas as Lord Peter Flimsey and Kenneth Connor as Punter the butler. Strung together this trilogy might possibly have justified one complete Carry On film, were it not for the fact that it starred the least interesting of the Carry On regulars and these sort of mysteries were not exactly Carry On material. Still, Jack Douglas did prove himself a lot less annoying without his constant twitches.
The main interest of 'Carry on Laughing' lies in the fact that most people never knew this series existed, even though all the episodes were released by ITC video and more recently as bonus material on the Carry On Special Edition DVD series. Where, however are the Christmas specials?
4 out of 10
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