Carry On Teacher
- Ted Ray as Mr William Wakefield
- Kenneth Connor as Mr Gregory Adams
- Joan Sims as Miss Sarah Allcock
- Leslie Phillips as Mr Alistair Grigg
- Kenneth Williams as Mr Edwin Milton
- Charles Hawtrey as Mr Michael Bean
- Hattie Jacques as Miss Grace Short
- Rosalind Knight as Miss Felicity Wheeler
- Richard O’Sullivan as Robin Stevens
The third Carry On movie, Teacher is probably the one most kid friendly due to the setting but loaded with good humour and a surprisingly moving payoff.
The setting is Maudlin Street School, where the headmaster is a fair, honest man named William Wakefield. Beloved by the students because of his fair attitude and not wanting to use the cane as punishment, he is well liked and respected by the staff as well. Though while respected, there is some contention about whether more discipline should be introduced, given how naughty the children behave. But after 20 years at the school, Wakefield decides he wants to leave and accept another headmaster post elsewhere. The teachers; bumbling science master Gregory Adams, chirpy gym instructor Sarah Allcock, snide English literature professor Edwin Milton, tough math mistress Grace Short and fussy music maestro Michael Bean, all decide to be as in control as possible when they are told of his plans, though they are worried about what will come next .Coinciding with Wakefield deciding to apply for another post, there is to be a visit from the review his credentials and command within the school by Ministry of Education Inspector Felicity Wheeler and child psychiatrist Alistair Grigg. However, the children of the school have overheard Wakefield’s plans and not wanting to lose their adored headmaster, set about devising a systematic scheme to ensure he won’t be leaving. The children, headed by ringleader and noted troublemaker Robin Stevens, decide this visit is the perfect time to sabotage any chance of considering or being considered for another post. The pranks and tricks come fast as the students do whatever they can in the hope that stays as their headmaster. Lady-killer Alistair becomes infatuated with Miss Allcock and she reciprocates, while Wakefield has Gregory woo the terse Felicity in the hope it will further his move. It’s left to Wakefield to decide whether to leave the school or stay where he is so obviously wanted.
Gerald Thomas is on sprightly form in this third film, clearly enjoying the mischief and outrageous plans the children execute throughout the movie. There is a laugh a minute feel to Carry On Teacher, especially as you wonder just how far and inventive the next prank will be. The various tricks employed by the kids, involving spiking tea with alcohol, itching powder and anything to ensure that will not leave are comedy of the highest order . It all culminates in a pretty hysterical scene that takes place during the school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. While I earlier mentioned it was the most kid friendly Carry on film, Teacher still has smattering of innuendo and saucy lines to entertain everyone. From the tearing of Allcock’s shorts in gym to a discussion in English where the pupils purposely ask awkward questions regarding what happens on a wedding night, there’s no shortage of naughtiness, though with still a certain innocence involved . And while the clowning antics and pranks are all fine fun, it’s what is behind them that really makes Carry On Teacher special. The children may be trying to sabotage his perfect record but it’s for a good reason as opposed to just nastiness. Through pranks and various other schemes, it’s all to keep Wakefield as their headmaster. Alongside the humour of it all, there is something very touching to be gleaned from the proceedings. I think that was what made Teacher so far my favourite of the Carry On films; it had what I expected, and then some. The familiar lively score you’d expect from one if these movies is here, along with priceless sound effects that accompany the main slapstick action.
Ted Ray is fine in the lead, making the headteacher someone you can instantly warm to from the first time we meet him. You can see why the students would want him to stay on, because he is fair but not a pushover. Ray though shows that be just as crafty as the children and isn’t above a little fun to do it either. Kenneth Connor, who is fast becoming one of my favourite stars of the franchise, exudes bumbling enthusiasm and comic anxiety here. Pratfalls and mishaps are the name of the game with Connor, and he does them with great aplomb. Joan Sims, who is simply delightful, manages to be both upstanding and flirty almost at the same time, particularly when acting alongside Leslie Phillips. Speaking of Phillips, he is right at home essaying a familiar role of charmer and smooth talker of the bunch. Ding Dong indeed, as he’d say. The fun pair of Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey appear as pompous teachers in their respective fields, who are almost always squabbling with each other, something both actors seem to have a ball with doing. The truly make a good duo of comedy and back and forth. Hattie Jacques, with fine comic timing and beady eyes, plays the stern teacher who most favours using punishment as discipline, though she is frequently overruled by everyone else in her views. Rosalind Knight has the haughty, disapproving attitude to pull off her inspector role, that thaws when met with bumbling Kenneth Connor. As the main instigator of pranks, Richard O’Sullivan is suitably mischievous but has his heart in the right place in what he executes.
Carry On Teacher has all the laughs you’d expect from a Carry On, but also boasts a gentle wistfulness and emotion that is surprising but welcome. So far, Carry On Teacher is my favourite.