Christopher Columbus (Dale) believes he can find an alternative route to the Far East and persuades the King and Queen of Spain to finance his expedition. But the Sultan of Turkey (Rik Mayall), who makes a great deal of money through taxing the merchants who have to pass through his country on the current route, sends his best spy, Fatima (Sara Crowe), to wreck the trip.
If you've seen all the other Carry On films, you'll probably want to collect the set by clocking the last gasp, though it’s a fairly horrible experience. In 1992, the quincentenary of Columbus’s voyage was commemorated by three disappointing-to-disastrous films. On a budget-to-income basis, Carry On Columbus was probably more of a hit than Ridley Scott’s 1492: The Conquest of Paradise or the Salkinds’ Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.
Fourteen years after the series fizzled out with the fairly poor Carry On Emmanuelle, all the greats (Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey) were gone, though director Gerald Thomas got back in harness for his last job, bringing to a sad close the series he had begun with Carry On Sergeant. Leftovers like Jim Dale, Bernard Cribbins and Kenneth Connor had to put up with being lumped in with a load of alternative comics like Julian Clary ('I'll come up your end in the night'), Tony Slattery and Rik Mayall.
Others who crowd into the movie solely so they can claim to have been in a Carry On include Sara Crowe, Alexei Sayle, Maureen Lipman, Keith Allen, Danny Peacock, Peter Richardson, Nigel Planer, Martin Clunes, Chris Langham, Don Henderson and Burt Kwouk (as ‘Wang’). It has one funny sequence, involving Native Americans played by Larry Martin and Charles Fleischer who talk like Martin Scorsese characters, but is mostly just a cheaper alternative to pantomime.
Barbara Windsor was approached to star, but wisely opted to do end-of-the-pier in Blackpool instead. The script somehow misses out on the Carry On-friendly historical fact that Columbus’s real name was Colon.
The spirit that is Carry On will no doubt, er, carry on forever, but only because a large part of its appeal today is steeped in nostalgia. Tony Slattery says he took his part in the film because it may well be the last Carry On ever made. One can't but hope he's right.