Carry On Sergeant is a 1958 comedy film starring William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse and Eric Barker; it is the first in the series of Carry On films, with 31 entries. The film was based on a play The Bull Boys by R. F. Delderfield and was adapted into a script by Norman Hudis with John Antrobus contributing additional material. It was directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers, a partnership which would last until 1978. Actors in this film, who went on to be part of the regular team in the series, were Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor and Terry Scott. The first public screening was on 1 August 1958 at Screen One, in London. The soundtrack music was played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards, conducted by the composer.

Carry on series

Carry On Sergeant had not been conceived as the start of a movie series; only after the film's surprising success did the producer Peter Rogers and the director Gerald Thomas set about planning a further project. After reusing the Carry On prefix and some cast members in their next project Carry On Nurse (1959) and having success with that film, the Carry On series of films evolved.


Newly married Mary Sage (Shirley Eaton) is distraught when her husband Charlie (Bob Monkhouse) receives his call-up papers during their wedding breakfast. He travels to Heathercrest National Service Depot, meeting fellow recruit Horace Strong (Kenneth Connor), a terminal hypochondriac who is devastated at having been passed as fit.

The new recruits are assigned to Sergeant Grimshaw (William Hartnell). Grimshaw is retiring from the army and takes on a £50 bet with Sergeant O'Brien (Terry Scott) that his last bunch of squaddies will be his first champion platoon. (Terry Scott was paid £50 for his part in the film)

With beady-eyed inspection from Captain Potts (Eric Barker) and disgruntled support from Corporal Copping (Bill Owen), Grimshaw decides to use some psychology and treat his charges kindly rather than simply shouting at them. But basic training doesn't start well and he struggles to take his squad through it. They include failure Herbert Brown (Norman Rossington), upper-class cad Miles Heywood (Terence Longdon), rock 'n' roller Andy Galloway (Gerald Campion), delicate flower Peter Golightly (Charles Hawtrey) and supercilious university graduate James Bailey (Kenneth Williams). His attempts seem doomed.

Mary is determined to spend her wedding night with her husband and smuggles herself into the depot to get a job in the NAAFI, a situation Charlie is eventually able to legitimise. Strong spends most of his time complaining to the Medical Officer, Captain Clark (Hattie Jacques). It is only the adoration of doe-eyed NAAFI girl Norah (Dora Bryan), which he initially rejects, that makes him realise his potential and inspires him to become a real soldier.

On the eve of the final tests, Grimshaw is in despair, but he is overheard bemoaning his lot to Copping. The squad decide to win the best platoon prize at all costs. On the day, they indeed beat the other platoons at all tasks and Grimshaw is awarded the cup for best platoon.


  • William Hartnell as Sergeant Grimshaw
  • Bob Monkhouse as Charlie Sage
  • Shirley Eaton as Mary Sage
  • Eric Barker as Captain Potts
  • Dora Bryan as Nora
  • Bill Owen as Corporal Copping
  • Charles Hawtrey as Peter Golightly
  • Kenneth Connor as Horace Strong
  • Kenneth Williams as James Bailey
  • Terence Longdon as Miles Heywood
  • Norman Rossington as Herbert Brown
  • Gerald Campion as Andy Galloway
  • Hattie Jacques as Captain Clark
  • Cyril Chamberlain as Gun Sergeant
  • Terry Scott as Sergeant O'Brien


"Carry on, Sergeant" is a normal expression for an Army officer to use; the American equivalent is, "As you were." The title was used to cash in on the popularity of the 1957 film Carry on Admiral, which was written by Val Guest. At the time, the success of Carry On Sergeant prompted applause and audience laughter in serious settings where the phrase was used, including amongst audiences of the film The Devil's Disciple (1959).

Business data

  • Budget â€" £73,000 (estimated)
  • Gross â€" £500,000 (UK)
  • Modern Budget Equivalent: £1,289,080.00

The film was the third most successful movie at the British box office in 1958.

Filming and locations

  • Filming dates â€" 24 March 1958 â€" 2 May 1958


  • Stage B, Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire


  • Army camp: Cardwell's Keep, Stoughton Road, Stoughton near Guildford, Surrey
  • Wedding scene: St Mary's Church of England, Church Hill, Harefield, Middlesex
  • Church scenes: Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire


  • Davidson, Andy (2012). Carry On Confidential. London: Miwk. ISBN 978-1-908630-01-8. 
  • Sheridan, Simon (2011). Keeping the British End Up â€" Four Decades of Saucy Cinema. London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-0-85768-279-6. 
  • Webber, Richard (2009). 50 Years of Carry On. London: Arrow. ISBN 978-0-09-949007-4. 
  • Hudis, Norman (2008). No Laughing Matter. London: Apex. ISBN 978-1-906358-15-0. 
  • Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema by Simon Sheridan (third edition) (2007) (Reynolds & Hearn Books)
  • Ross, Robert (2002). The Carry On Companion. London: Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8771-8. 
  • Bright, Morris; Ross, Robert (2000). Mr Carry On â€" The Life & Work of Peter Rogers. London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-55183-6. 
  • Rigelsford, Adrian (1996). Carry On Laughing â€" a celebration. London: Virgin. ISBN 1-85227-554-5. 
  • Hibbin, Sally & Nina (1988). What a Carry On. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-55819-4. 
  • Eastaugh, Kenneth (1978). The Carry On Book. London: David & Charles. ISBN 978-0-7153-7403-0. 


External links

  • Carry On Sergeant at the Internet Movie Database
  • Carry On Sergeant at The Whippit Inn
  • Carry on Sergeant at BFI Screenonline

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