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Carry On… Up The Khyber (1968)

Carry On… Up The Khyber, the sixteenth Carry On film to be made, arrived at the BBFC for classification in June 1968. 

Tags: archive, comedy, bbfc, case study

The film, set in 19th century India, sees the Khasi of Khalibar (Kenneth Williams) discover that the guards of the Khyber Pass, the Kilted Third Foot And Mouth brigade of the British Army, who are feared for their lack of undergarments, do in fact wear woollen underpants. As a result the Khasi encourages a rebellion now the regiments' weakness is revealed and their reputation as the 'devils in skirts' is ruined. The British Governor, Rough Diamond, (Sid James) sends four of his crew to save the day and drive the rebels away by lifting their kilts to reinstate their reputation and the peace.

Carry On… Up The Khyber was passed A on film after three cuts to remove risqué dialogue, including a line considered to play on the 'f-word', when the character Bungdit Din, (Bernard Bresslaw) said: 'He's just a travelling fakir'. In 1968, the A certificate permitted persons under 16 to see the film, provided they were accompanied by an adult.

Carry On… Up The Khyber was submitted for video classification in April 1987, with Bungdit Din's line re-instated. The Examiner report available here, notes the innocuous nature of the line, compared to an earlier use of 'Fakir off', which depends much more on similarities to the 'f-word'.

Ultimately the video was passed PG because of the play on the 'f-word' combined with the "endless stream of smutty jokes" and a scene involving four of Rough Diamond's men fondling some "busty 'ladies of the night' ".

The BBFC classified the video PG again in 2001 and 2003. Under current Classification Guidelines, introduced in 2014, sex references are unlikely at PG unless they are undetailed and infrequent. However, if a child is unlikely to understand a reference, it may be permitted at PG. Comedy can also often lessen the impact of sex references and innuendo. In the case of Carry On… Up The Khyber, the sex references are chiefly double entendres or fairly sophisticated word play that a child is unlikely to understand.

There may be mild bad language (such as ‘shit’ or ‘son of a bitch’) in a PG film, but the context and delivery are always important. The use of 'Fakir' instead of the 'F-word' is unlikely to be understood by children and lacks the same charge as a directed use of the 'f-word' in this comedy context.

You can read more about public acceptability of language at each of the categories on pages 70-81 of our recent Classification Guidelines Research.

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