Carry On Up The Khyber Review

Image for Carry On Up The Khyber

A crisis is created in the Raj when it is revealed that the British occupiers actually wear underpants under their kilts (the absence of which had terrified the natives into submission), prompting a mission to reclaim said undergarments and restores peace.


Alongside Cleo and Screaming, Up The Khyber represents the high watermark in the annals (ooh!) of Carry On.

Strange, then, that such mainstays as Babs Windsor, Jim Dale and Kenneth Connor are noticeably absent, with Roy Castle making his sole appearance (where was his dedication?). However, the remaining big guns - Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey - are at their most relaxed, rescuing the Third Foot and Mouth from disgrace after Private Widdle is robbed of his undergarments. In the pursuit of which, the snorting, giggling and leering hits the spot (wha-hey!) with military precision.

Khyber also stands out through the guile of director Gerald Thomas giving the nonsense such a classy sheen. Without the knowledge that it was all shot at Pinewood Studios, plus a week on the flanks of Snowdon as the titular narrow passage (blimey!), you could be duped into thinking there was something actually foreign about the setting. A gorgeous London summer bathed the exteriors in sunlight and the sets are suitably impressive - even if they are only used as a backdrop for one of those cranked-up chase sequences in which Charles Hawtrey's trousers fall down.

Regular screenwriter Talbot Rothwell obviously relished the chance to transport his trademark seaside sauce to such an unusual setting as the Raj, and there is a cleverness to the amount of excruciating puns he can shuffle into a single scene.

After so many years of repeat play, the jokes are less side-splitting than nostalgically reassuring, a jaunt down memory lane to when 'Bung-dit-in from Jacksi' and the dastardly 'Khasi of Kalabar' were the naughtiest things you'd ever heard.

Worth watching for the dining scene alone, which is a stunning display of the British stiff upper lip.