Oh Matron! Fast Show alumnus Charlie Higson says he wants to revive the spirit of the Carry On films by establishing a troupe of British comics rattling out movies at a rate quicker than a Sid James cackle.
“My dream would be to do something like the Carry on Films where you get your favourite comedy character actors and each year you put them in a different vehicle,” said the writer and actor.
“I grew up watching those black and white films, the Ealing films, and you looked forward to seeing those great comedy actors whether it was Terry Thomas or Margaret Rutherford. There used to be a whole factory.”
Higson says he won’t be able to put his plans into action immediately as he has his hands full with his forthcoming ITV drama Jekyll & Hyde but reveals that he was inspired to recapture the Carry On spirit during the filming of his dramatisation of Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawm children’s stories.
The 60-minute film The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm will be one of the centerpieces of the BBC1 Christmas schedule and stars Harry Hill as the eccentric inventor alongside Death in Paradise star Ben Miller, who plays a ruthless developer, and David Mitchell as a stuffy council official.
“It was fantastic to work with a brilliant team of comedy character actors on Branestawm,” says Higson.
“The problem is the gap between the film industry and the TV industry, and the TV people think they know better,” he adds, insisting that if he had his time again he would have made a Fast Show film back in the 1990s.
“The problem with our film industry here is it virtually doesn’t exist, for a start. In America, if somebody gets a good following doing a character on Saturday night live they’ll make a film.
“Half of them might be rubbish but then you gets the likes of Wayne’s World or whatever.
“The problem is because these films are few and far between it puts a huge weight on you. Whereas if we were making five or six a year then you’d say ‘here’s another nice British comedy film let’s go and see that’. But they have to become a big event.”
The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm airs on BBC1 over Christmas