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Saturday March 23rd 2019

Carry On Up The Khyber | 1968

The Khyber Pass is a mountain pass connecting northwest Pakistan with Afghanistan, and part of the ancient Silk Road.

It’s been the setting for plenty of derring-do British Empire-era action pictures, but its name has also entered the English vernacular as a picturesque bit of rhyming slang.

Oh, come on, work it out for yourself.

One of the best-loved of the series, the film long predates the concept of 'political correctness', so adjust your finer sensibilities to circa 1968 and enjoy.

All the imaginative camera angles a cinematographer could dream of couldn’t find the mountainous wastes of the Northwest Frontier in the Home Counties, so this lively entry into the Carry On… series has a slightly higher budget than usual.

This budget didn’t stretch to the Afghan-Pakistan border and the real Pass, but did get as far as ten days’ filming in the Snowdonia mountains of North Wales.

The ‘Pass’ is filmed on the Watkin Path, built in 1982 as a donkey track to run north from the village of Plas Gwynant, on the A498, up to the peak of Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon.

The mountain, which gives its name to Snowdonia National Park, is not just the highest peak in Wales but the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands. The full path runs for almost four miles and is the most demanding route to the summit, though the filming site (commemorated with a plaque since 2005) is obviously on the lower slopes.

Don’t scoff – such prestigious Hollywood productions as The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, with Ingrid Bergman, and The Most Dangerous Man In The World (aka The Chairman), with Gregory Peck, also used the magnificently rugged scenery of the National Park to stand in for the ranges of the Far East.

The ‘British Consulate’ is, of course, Heatherden Hall, the old country house at the heart of the Pinewood Studios lot in Buckinghamshire, with a few extra columns erected along its frontage.