Nice to see the pick of Sergeant’s cast back and feeling like a team, but the star of the show is really Eaton, here looking set to stay, but in fact treating us to the second and best of her but-three appearances as the series’ lead female non-grotesque. Her replacement would prove elusive to the series’ producers in the films to come, with first Liz Fraser and then Angela Douglas briefly emerging as the most satisfactory candidates, until the lucky day that they found in Barbara Windsor a sex object who is also one of the boys, and only a notch, if that, below Williams in cartoon gargoyle performance level. We also get Leslie Phillips, an honorary rather than fully paid-up team member (more fully associated with the similar, concurrent Doctor series) making the first of his appearances as young male non-grotesque. Permanently filling these shoes was a comparable problem: Jim Dale is their most familiar occupant, but he left the party early and unresolved struggle dominated ever after, with Richard O’Callaghan making the bravest fist, and Kenneth Cope the most versatile one.
This still isn’t really looking a series yet, even the reuse of the name feels like an opportunistic announcement of the same cast and production team than the bolder assertion that ‘this is the second film in what we hope will be a long-running film series that will in time be seen as one of the defining elements of British cinema’ would be. The most anticipatory aspects are Hattie Jacques getting her first chance to play Matron, and the joke that made the film a hit the world over: querulous patient Wilfred Hyde-White having a daffodil stuck up his bum in place of a thermometer.