1 9 6 9 (UK)
1 x 60 minute episode
For the first time, the Carry On team – then at the peak of their popularity – made the move from films to television for ITV at 9.15 pm on Christmas Eve 1969.
Having a studio audience clearly agreed with the Carry On team. Free to time their gags to match audience reaction and inspired to ad libs and asides, the cast kept the foolery going at a pace that left no pause for critical detachment.
If a particular joke didn’t tickle the fancy, another followed so hard on its heels that viewers had forgotten their momentary lack of interest before it made a mark on their memory.
Sid James was a hit as Scrooge, sardonically unruffled by the larger-than-life capers going on around him, and Barbara Windsor appeared in a potted panto about Cinderella complaining about her grotty sisters (Terry Scott and Peter Butterworth) comforted by the Buttons of Charles Hawtrey and with her wishes fulfilled by the Fairy Queen of Frankie Howerd.
Carry On Christmas was produced by Thames Television by arrangement with Peter Rogers, the creator of the Carry On film series. The script was by Talbot Rothwell with direction from Ronnie Baxter.
Costing £25,000, it was the most expensive television special made for TV in Britain at the time.
The special drew 8.1 million viewers, making it ITV’s most watched show of the 1969 Christmas period. Subsequent Carry On Christmas specials appeared on ITV in 1970, 1972 and 1973.