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  Confessions from a Holiday Camp Get Away From It All
Year: 1977
Director: Norman Cohen
Stars: Robin Askwith, Anthony Booth, Bill Maynard, Doris Hare, Sheila White, Linda Hayden, Lance Percival, Lance Percival, John Junkin, Liz Fraser, Colin Crompton, Nicholas Owen, Mike Savage, Janet Edis, Nicola Blackman, Caroline Ellis, Sue Upton
Genre: Comedy, Sex, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 3 votes)
Review: After their driving instructor's business failed, brothers-in-law Timmy Lea (Robin Askwith) and Sid Noggett (Anthony Booth) have opted for sun and fun instead; well, maybe not so much the sun as it's Sid's bright idea to open a holiday camp in March, when the weather is not exactly clement. Nevertheless, the duo are having a good time with the young ladies who are attending, or they are until the new boss, Mr Whitemonk (John Junkin) orders Sid into his office and demands the lax standards of the camp are shaken up. He interrogates him about what bright ideas he has as entertainments officer, but the only thing Noggett can think of is a beauty contest...

By the time Confessions from a Holiday Camp was released, the producers must have thought the series could run for years judging by the healthy profits they had made three times before. However, the bottom was dropping out of the British sex comedy market by 1977, and this was a relative flop in comparison with the others, so Confessions of a Plumber's Mate was never made (although Adventures of a Plumber's Mate was - but that's another story). Therefore the last anyone saw of Timmy Lea was here, unless you happened to catch Askwith's long-running stage show version that toured the world in the late seventies.

At least they were not running out of jokes by this instalment, probably because they were using the same jokes as the others, as dreamed up by Christopher Wood adapting one of his paperbacks - the same year as he wrote The Spy Who Loved Me for the James Bond producers, with considerably more success. The film has a love-hate relationship with its setting, where The Wurzels belt out the title song "Give Me England Every Time", a paean to the joys of British holidaymaking as opposed to elsewhere in Europe that stands in marked contrast to Timmy admitting that the place is freezing and suffering gale force winds.

All of which, sad to say, are very apparent as you watch the girls try not to shiver in their bikinis and wonder how Askwith didn't catch pneumonia after falling in the pool for the umpteenth time. Usually if a film makes you want to snuggle up with a warm mug of cocoa and feel all cosy and warm it's because it's sweet and cuddly, but here it's because you can almost feel that stiff breeze going right through you and your teeth are starting to chatter sympathetically. But Robin and those brave lasses do indeed doff their togs for the sake of a few seconds' titillation, something that audiences of the day didn't even bother to turn up to watch, preferring American product by and large, the ungrateful lot.

Although not the best of the series, this one is a little better than the previous entry, with some well organised slapstick that is ridiculous enough to raise a laugh in the unsuspecting. The sex scenes stem from the plot point that Timmy is left to drum up interest in the beauty contest, and the prize money is so tempting that the young ladies are willing to sleep with him to secure it. As you can imagine the film constantly skirts offensive material like that, maybe not utterly offensive as Timmy is the butt of the humour, but of dubious merit nowadays, not only because, for example, Timmy is reluctant to let one girl join the contest because she wears glasses, but of the racial humour directed at the sole black cast member, Nicola Blackman. Author Geoff Ryman was so outraged by this that he dedicated a footnote to it in his novel 253, and it's hard not to get uncomfortable watching it; Lance Percival also essays a mincing gay role that makes Larry Grayson look like Mr. T. Still, it's all with the benefit of hindsight that these issues arise, otherwise, this isn't the worst of its genre by a long shot. Music by Ed Welch.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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