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Saturday September 30th 2023

Carry On At Your Convenience | 1971

Carry On At Your Convenience film location: Clarges, Marine Parade, Brighton, East Sussex
Carry On At Your Convenience film location: the annual works outing in Brighton: Clarges, Marine Parade, Brighton, East Sussex

The fashionably 70s union-bashing script coasts along with a few too many obvious “I like it every week” innuendoes but the cast, as ever, saves the day at ‘WC Boggs & Co’, the sanitaryware factory run by Mr Boggs (Kenneth Williams). The factory is no more that the very lightly disguised workshops on the Pinewood lot at Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire.

The lot was the home of two great British institutions, the Carry Ons and the Bond films, and makes appearances in both, particularly Heatherden Hall, the country mansion around which the studio was built. Here it becomes the pillared entrance to sophisticated nightspot ‘The Whippit Inn’, to which Vic Spanner (Kenneth Cope) and his pal Bernie (Bernard Bresslaw) follow the buxom Myrtle on her night out.

Opposite the studio complex stands an oval of houses called Pinewood Green, which regularly supplies the suburban neighbourhood for the series’ characters.

Sure enough, its on the north side of Pinewood Green where foreman Sid Plummer (Sid James) lives next door to Chloë Moore (Joan Sims).

If the grimy street where strike-happy shop steward Vic Spanner lives with his no-nonsense mum (Renee Houston) looks like it belongs in another film, well, it does. It’s part of the huge ‘Baker Street’ set designed by Alexander Trauner for Billy Wilder’s magnificent The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes the previous year.

Vic sees Myrtle getting into the car of the boss’s son, Lewis (Richard O’Callaghan), outside the long-gone Odeon cinema, which stood on the west side of High Street, Uxbridge, barely two miles east of Pinewood, and the northwestern terminus of both the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines of the London Underground.

Getting away from the immediate Pinewood area, the annual works outing takes the gang to the Carry Ons’ favourite seaside resort, Brighton, on the East Sussex coast. They miss out on the slap-up lunch (with serviettes) due to a strike, and settle for an afternoon at the bar in Clarges Hotel. Once owned by actress Dora Bryan (who coincidentally appeared in Carry On Sergeant, the very first of the series), the 60-room hotel was converted into private flats in the Eighties. The block is still called Clarges, 117-118 Marine Parade, above Madeira Drive, to the east of Brighton Pier.

Brighton once boasted two grand Victorian piers, the Palace Pier and the West Pier. The West Pier (which you might remember as the location for Richard Attenborough’s imaginative filming of Oh! What A Lovely War) was destroyed by fire and has shockingly been allowed to fall into a virtually irreparable state.

The Palace is now simply called Brighton Pier, and of course, this is where the Boggs crowd head for a spot of traditional fun. The pier is still going strong and, surprisingly, many of its more traditional attractions remain. If you’re in the mood for innocent nostalgia, you can still hurtle round in the Dodgems, slide down the Helter Skelter (which had to be rebuilt in 1977), and ride the Ghost Train – now rebranded as Horror Hotel.

And to round off the day, why not stop off at the Red Lion, the first of the many hostelries visited on the trip back from the seaside.

You won’t find it on the Brighton to London road, it’s the Red Lion, Langley Park Road, on the roundabout at Wood Lane in – guess where? – Iver, just a couple of miles south of Pinewood.