|The Carry Ons have been the subject of a great many reference books over the years, covering all aspects of the films from both sides of the camera. In a market seemingly exhausted of possibilites for new content, along comes a book which takes a unique approach to the subject, one that is both encyclopaedic and intimate. Better yet, while the format is new, so is the content - the films have never been examined in such detail before and if that's not enough, then how about some previously unseen scripts? How about countless new behind the scenes photos, or contributions from a multitude of cast and crew members? This is the book we've all been waiting for.
The Complete A-Z is a daunting prospect for a reader; weighing in at almost 350 pages, and structured alphabetically, you can't help feeling at first that exhaustive equals exhausting when it comes to reading the thing. Then again, those of you who've read Richard's similar books on British comedy, particularly his excellent Dad's Army A to Z, won't be surprised to discover that the text itself is affectionate, passionate and thoroughly accessible. I'd like to say I couldn't put it down, but I'd be lying - it weighs a ton and my arms started to ache after the first half an hour!
Every actor, character and crew member who contributed to the Carry Ons' success is included. Actors and crew members are covered by brief biographies, often accompanied by interviews or recollections of their time on the series. In researching the book, Richard interviewed and met a great many contributors to the series, and their comments, interviews and memories of working on the films make this a very personal book. Fictional characters from the films are each treated to a short study of who they are and the film in which they appeared. Where one of these characters led a scene that was subsequently cut from the final film, that scene is reprinted in the book next to their entry. As a result, the book is packed with scenes cut from the Carry On films, the overwhelming majority of which have not seen print before.
The Carry On films themselves are of course examined in detail; each is given its own section, with production details, a story overview and selected highlights from the script. The TV and theatrical entries to the Carry On canon get a similar treatment.
Turning to later sections of the book, there is an exhaustive directory of all the Carry On memorablia that's been produced over the years, from DVDs to books to clothes and beyond; there's a detailed guide to the locations used in making the Carry Ons and complete bibliographies and discographies. There's even a section detailing just how much money each of the stars was paid for their work on each of the films. The word "Complete" in book's title isn't used lightly; if you ever wanted to know something about the films or the people who worked on them, chances are it's in there.
But that's not all; turn to the back of the book and there are two very welcome surprises that Richard has done well to keep under wraps. The original script for Carry On Sergeant, written by John Antrobus, is reprinted in full. It's a very different beast to the film that eventually made it to the cinemas and offers a unique insight into the scripting process. But that's not all; we're also treated to Talbot Rothwell's script for Carry On Escaping - a film which we've heard a lot about over the years and which, from the script presented here, would have been a superb addition to the series.
The Complete A-Z has been a long-time in the making and the effort Richard has put in to making this a unique and essential Carry On volume is evident. Meticulously researched, lavishly illustrated with many previously unpublished photos, it's a treasure trove of information which is sure to keep readers busy for quite some time. The Complete A-Z of Everything Carry On sets a new standard in examining the history of our beloved films and is without a doubt the definitive Carry On reference work.