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Carry on Christmas (or Carry On Stuffing) (ITV 1972, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims)

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The third of the four Carry On Christmas TV specials, this suffers from the absence of Sid James (as does any Carry On that doesn’t feature him and writer Talbot Rothwell became ill whilst working on the script, and was unable to finish it. Dave Freeman had to be brought in to complete the script, but the two men did not work together. As a result, the script does not flow as easily as the earlier offerings.

Secondly, Charles Hawtrey pulled out of the special at short notice. Having taken third billing to Sid James and Terry Scott in the previous two shows, and knowing they would both be absent, Hawtrey demanded top billing. But Carry On producer Peter Rogers refused, giving top billing to Hattie Jacques instead. Hawtrey’s role had hastily to be recast, and was split between Norman Rossington and Brian Oulton, both of whom had played cameo roles in several Carry On films.

The plot was set in Victorian times the Carry on team get together over Christmas dinner to tell each other tales.

Basically a series of sketches such as one involving Adam and Eve, The Last Outpost which goes on far too long and focuses on a colonial Christmas dinner out in Africa, it features much the same scenes and dialogue as the one in Carry On Up the Khyber; The Musician’s Story is set in Elizabeth times and is a couple of comic song interludes. The Sailor’s Story is a spooky haunted house type sketch and there is a saucy send up of the Aladdin pantomime, this is actually the funniest segment and has some genuinely witty rhyming lines.

Besides all the usual team (minus Sid James who was busy with Bless This House) has the fantastic addition of the gorgeous Valerie Leon as a very busty serving wench.

Cast: Hattie Jacques; Joan Sims; Barbara Windsor; Peter Butterworth; Kenneth Connor; Norman Rossington; Jack Douglas; Brian Oulton; Valerie Leon; Billy Cornelius; Valerie Stanton

Writers: Talbot Rothwell, Dave Freeman / Executive Producer: Peter Rogers / Producer: Gerald Thomas / Director: Ronald Fouracre

UK | ITV – Thames | 1×50 minutes | Broadcast 20 December 1972