The Carry On films get off to an unassuming start with perhaps the most traditionally comic entry in the series. Of course, at the time the team had no idea they were taking the first steps on the road to becoming a comedy legend. Carry On Sergeant was simply a low-budget, stand-alone comedy; just another in the string of movies put together by Rogers and Thomas. When Carry On Sergeant went before the cameras, there were no particular expectations other than that “The Bull Boys” (as it was originally known) should make people laugh and return a profit. Judged solely on these criteria it was a resounding success.
The characters (or caricatures) that we have come to know and love as the series goes on are embryonic in this first outing, but their foundations are there. Kenneth Williams represents the puffed up voice of rebellion, haughty and somewhat snobbish; Charles Hawtrey is the delicate, effete fool and Kenneth Connor a bumbling mess of nerves. He’s a somewhat heightened “everyman” character with whom the audience can easily sympathise.
The real stars of the film are those who’ll go on to become the Carry On team, although whether that was the intent at the time is debatable; I would suggest not. The success of Carry On Sergeant is the serendipitous result of a talented cast of seasoned professionals, a scriptwriter who knows his onions and a director with a flair for physical comedy all coming together to create a perfect vignette of life in National Service.