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Carry On Henry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carry On Henry
Original UK quad poster by Renato Fratini
Directed byGerald Thomas
Written byTalbot Rothwell
Produced byPeter Rogers
StarringSid James
Kenneth Williams
Charles Hawtrey
Joan Sims
Terry Scott
Barbara Windsor
Kenneth Connor
CinematographyAlan Hume
Edited byAlfred Roome
Music byEric Rogers
Distributed byRank Organisation
Release date
  • 17 February 1971 (1971-02-17)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Carry On Henry is a 1971 British historical comedy film, the 21st release in the series of 31 Carry On films (1958–1992). It tells a fictionalised story involving Sid James as Henry VIII, who chases after Barbara Windsor's character Bettina. James and Windsor feature alongside other regulars Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Terry Scott and Kenneth Connor. This was the first time that Williams and Connor appeared together since Carry On Cleo seven years previously. The original alternative title was to be Anne of a Thousand Lays, a pun on the Richard Burton film Anne of the Thousand Days, and Sid James wears exactly the same cloak that Burton wore in that film. Harry Secombe was considered for Henry VIII when it appeared that Sid James may not be available due to possible stage commitments. James was making a lengthy appearance in South Africa which was cut down when he heard he was wanted for the film and arrived back in time for the second day of shooting.

The opening theme is a version of "Greensleeves", as arranged by Eric Rogers.[2] The film was followed by Carry On At Your Convenience 1971.

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Casting and characterisation

Sid James plays Henry VIII as a lovable rogue who is surrounded by scheming courtiers. Peter Rogers originally planned on using Harry Secombe in the title role, and in the first draft of the screenplay Henry was going to be an avid composer of madrigals, but the idea was shelved and Sid James took over the role. Two comedic madrigals written for the film but unused were later performed in the 1972 Carry On Christmas special and the 1973 stage show Carry On London.[3]


The film opens with a passage, which states:

This film is based on a recently discovered manuscript by one William Cobbler, which reveals that Henry VIII did in fact have two more wives. Although it was first thought that Cromwell originated the story, it is now known to be definitely all Cobbler's... from beginning to end.

Henry VIII (Sid James) has his wife (Patsy Rowlands) beheaded and quickly marries Marie of Normandy (Joan Sims). This union was organised at the behest of bumbling Cardinal Wolsey (Terry Scott) as Marie is cousin of King Francis I of France. Before the marriage can be consummated, Marie eats a clove of garlic, claiming it is a Normandy tradition. Henry is repulsed by the smell and leaves. Marie receives amorous advances from Henry's attaché Sir Roger de Lodgerley (Charles Hawtrey who, while still in his camp persona, is playing against type as a ladies' man).

Henry is keen to be rid of Marie, and seizes the opportunity to divorce her when he discovers she is pregnant with Lodgerley's child. He imprisons her in the Tower of London and commands Thomas Cromwell (Kenneth Williams) to retrieve a confession of paternity from Lodgerley. Marie convinces Wolsey to send for the French ambassador, who tells Henry that Francis, King of France (Peter Gilmore) is so thrilled with the match that he will give England ten thousand gold pieces. This, and the fear that the ambassador will discover Marie's imprisonment, convinces Henry to release Marie; he commands Cromwell to force a retraction of Lodgerley's confession.

Soon afterwards, Henry meets the beautiful Bettina (Barbara Windsor, in her favourite Carry On role). Bettina is the daughter of the Earl of Bristol (Peter Butterworth, in a one scene cameo), a punning reference to Bristols. Henry renews his attempt to divorce Marie just as Lodgerley signs his retraction, again imprisoning Marie in the Tower. Henry comes so close to achieving the divorce that he sends Bettina to the bridal bedchamber. The handsome King of France arrives on a surprise visit and finds Bettina; finding her to be a suitable wife, he asks Henry if he can marry her. Henry realises that the only way to avoid war with France is to consent. Henry arranges for Cromwell and Wolsey to be executed as a result of their supposed inaction. Charmed by Henry's loyalty, Marie announces that she loves him and goes into labour. Henry promises to be a faithful husband, but immediately meets Catherine Howard. He rushes to stop the execution of Cromwell and Wolsey, begging for their help in divorcing Marie and ensuring marriage with Howard, but both men cry out 'carry on, executioner!'.


Filming and locations

  • Filming dates – 12 October-27 November 1970



See also


  1. ^ Chapman, J. (2022). The Money Behind the Screen: A History of British Film Finance, 1945-1985. Edinburgh University Press p 246.
  2. ^ Edwards, Peter (2011). "Robert Farnon Society". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  3. ^ Ross, Robert. The Carry On Companion, B. T. Batsford: London, 1996. ISBN 0-7134-7967-1 pp 93–94


  • Davidson, Andy (2012). Carry On Confidential. London: Miwk. ISBN 978-1-908630-01-8.
  • Sheridan, Simon (2011). Keeping the British End Up – Four Decades of Saucy Cinema. London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-0-85768-279-6.
  • Webber, Richard (2009). 50 Years of Carry On. London: Arrow. ISBN 978-0-09-949007-4.
  • Hudis, Norman (2008). No Laughing Matter. London: Apex. ISBN 978-1-906358-15-0.
  • Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema by Simon Sheridan (third edition) (2007) (Reynolds & Hearn Books)
  • Ross, Robert (2002). The Carry On Companion. London: Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8771-8.
  • Bright, Morris; Ross, Robert (2000). Mr Carry On – The Life & Work of Peter Rogers. London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-55183-6.
  • Rigelsford, Adrian (1996). Carry On Laughing – a celebration. London: Virgin. ISBN 1-85227-554-5.
  • Hibbin, Sally & Nina (1988). What a Carry On. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-55819-4.
  • Eastaugh, Kenneth (1978). The Carry On Book. London: David & Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-7403-0.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 April 2023, at 18:16
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