Carry On Sergeant (1958, William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse)

The first of the Carry On movies was inspired by R.F. Delderfield’s novel The Bull Boys and on a budget of just £73,000 managed to bring back a very healthy gross of around £500,000.

William Hartnell plays Sergeant Grimshawe, the retiring army training sergeant who is faced with possibly the worst group of national service recruits ever to have been called up, including Charlie Sage (Bob Monkhouse), Horace Strong (Kenneth Connor), Peter Golightly (Charles Hawtrey) and James Bailey (Kenneth Williams).

Determined to prove that he is more capable than the authorities think, Grimshawe agrees to a bet that means he has to turn his bunch of determined losers into one of the best platoons in the British army. The narrative of the movie follows his attempts to make a silk purse of a sow’s ear as the hapless recruits fall in love, learn to work with each other and discover a sense of responsibility.

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Says Variety : “A bunch of talented character comedians have been handed these situations and, in their respective styles, they wring a lot more out of them and the dialog than the writers provide.” Thus began one of the most enduringly popular and financially successful series of films in British cinematic history.

UK / 1958

Director: Gerald Thomas
Writer: Norman Hudis, based on the book by R.F. Delderfield

Cast: William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse, Shirley Eaton, Eric Barker, Dora Bryan, Bill Owen, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, Terence Longdon, Norman Rossington, Hattie Jacques

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.