Top 10 Brits on Holiday

Top 10 Films is on holiday. Through the following ten movies we head to the English countryside, the Greek islands, the south of France, Crete and the Australian outback. What could go wrong?

Why is it that the best films featuring Brits on holiday, whether we are enjoying the delights of the English countryside or getting sunburnt in hot climates, feature something going terribly wrong? Most of the time. Whether it’s Withnail’s uncle crashing the party in Withnail and I, noisy neighbours in Nuts In May, or a crazed dismemberer in Wolf Creek, holidays from hell seem to follow Brits around in the movies.

What is that saying about looking on the bright side of life? In the top 10 films about Brits on Holiday, you just have to laugh in order to get through them. Thankfully, most of these films play their pitfalls and drawbacks for amusement making for holidays to be remembered rather than forgotten. Well…for the audience at least.

More on Top 10 Films you might like: Top 10 Films To Make You Reconsider Vacations | British Cinema’s Back Alleys and Byways: A Top 10 | Top 10 Films Inspired by British TV Comedy | Top 10 British Comedy since 1980 | Top 10 British Cult Classics

10. Holiday on the Buses (Izzard, 1973)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
Holiday on the Buses is the third spin-off movie inspired by the popular British TV comedy series On The Buses. It follows the exploits of a bunch of bus drivers, led by Reg Varney, who aren’t particularly good at their jobs. After Varney’s Stan causes three of the company’s buses to be wrecked, he loses his job and ends up at a British holiday camp driving the public transport. Likened to other British situation comedies of the period like John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers, the film hits and misses with its laughs generated from events conspiring against the protagonists. Still, with so many gags, enough will surely work to merit a viewing.

9. Mr Bean’s Holiday (Bendelack, 2007)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
Britain’s clumsiest citizen Mr Bean unsurprisingly ends up on a disastrous holiday in France after he wins a trip to Cannes. Rowan Atkinson again delivers his best impression of a bumbling idiot as Mr Bean goes from one pitfall to another. It is a comedy of extreme error, and while the film’s scattershot humour hits and misses, there’s fun to be had for fans of the character.

8. Summer Holiday (Yates, 1963)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
We’re all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a week or two! Yes, these are the lyrics to the theme song sung by star Cliff Richard. If you know the film, you’ll know the song. No doubt you’re humming it to yourself. This annoying habit will afflict the rest of your day I’m afraid. Damn you Cliff! But it is all part of the charm of 1963’s musical Summer Holiday as Richard’s Don, along with friends, converts a London bus into a holiday caravan and heads off across Europe for fun in the sun. The film was a smash hit in the UK, tapping into the cultural vibe of the period, swinging its way into the sixties with some of the decade’s most popular songs like The Next Time, Bachelor Boy and Foot Tapper.

7. Carry On Camping (Thomas, 1969)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
The 17th Carry On film, “Camping” first appeared in 1969 as Sid James and the familiar gang head off to an English holiday camp known as Paradise. James’s character Sid Boggle and his friend Bernie Lugg (Bernard Bresslaw) had hoped to lure their girlfriends there, believing it to be a nudist camp. But soon “paradise” reveals its true colours – not only is it a non-nude camp, it’s simply a damp, dirty field with limited facilities. Hilarity ensues when Sid and Bernie grow tired of their girlfriend’s lack of intimacy and set their sights on a group of holidaying girls led by Barbara Windsor under the guidance of Kenneth Williams’ Dr Soaper.

6. Wolf Creek (McLean, 2005)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
This is the film to put you off two things. Firstly, it will turn any aspirations you have to go backpacking into mush. Secondly, it’ll advise you that if you do ignore the warning signs about backpacking, wandering off in the middle-of-nowhere in Australia’s deserted outback is a bad idea. Especially if you don’t have Mick “Crocodile” Dundee to protect you with his really big knife. In Wolf Creek, a trio of young, fresh-faced and appreciably good looking people become the prey of a psycho who has witnessed Texas Chainsaw Massacre far too many times. Expect limbs to be chopped off, blood to be splashed and splattered, and the absence of any happy ending.

5. The Inbetweeners Movie (Palmer, 2011)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
Inspired by the popular British TV comedy series, The Inbetweeners Movie anglicises the coming-of-age genre as a group of teenagers head to Crete for fun, frolics and maybe a little bit of sex. Fans of the series will enjoy this bookend to the TV show, while new viewers will find Britain’s answer to American Pie hits all the right notes.

4. Shirley Valentine (Gilbert, 1989)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
Pauline Collins delivers a wonderful performance as a bored housewife from Liverpool who, uncharacteristically, leaves her uncaring family behind and heads off to Mykonos in Greece with her friend Jane (played by the brilliant Alison Steadman). Based on a one-character play by Willy Russell (who also wrote the equally nuanced and funny Educating Rita), Shirley Valentine is a smartly conceived and amusing tale of a woman finding adventure and romance later in life.

3. Sightseers (Wheatley, 2012)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
Kill List director Ben Wheatley brings his unique, subversive touch to the Brits on Holiday genre as an odd, socially obscure couple take their caravan on a tour of northern England’s tourist hotspots like the Crich Tramway Museum, Blue John Cavern, the Ribblehead Viaduct, and the Keswick Pencil Museum. Mixing oddball humour with serial killing and a green agenda, Sightseers is Natural Born Killers meets Nuts In May.
Discover More: Kill List | Sightseers

2. Nuts In May (Leigh, 1976)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
Mike Leigh delights with Nuts In May, which was originally broadcast on BBC television as part of its long-running Play for Today series in 1976. Alison Steadman and Roger Sloman star as a well-meaning couple who decide to go on a camping holiday. Steadman’s innocent, childlike wonder contrasts Sloman’s headmaster-like precision, his almost paternal nurturing creating a unique dynamic between this odd, but equally loving, pairing. Leigh finds humour in the contrasting personalities of those on the campsite, as their fellow campers, each with their own agendas and ways of having fun, disrupt the couple’s idyll.

1. Withnail and I (Robinson, 1987)

Top 10 Films Brits on Holiday
The quintessential Brits on Holiday film has to be Bruce Robinson’s seminal classic and cult favourite Withnail and I. Inspired by Robinson’s own troubles as an out-of-work actor, his Camden Town squalor fuelled by booze, the film follows two unemployed Londoners living in similar “poverty” as they head off to the countryside for a much needed holiday. Mixing comedy with tragedy, Withnail and I provides a caustic, unapologetic and inherently truthful window on to this fringe element of London’s changing cultural and societal make-up. It distinguishes itself thanks to Robinson’s sparkling dialogue and some fine performances, particularly Ralph Brown’s spaced-out drug dealer and Richard E. Grant’s perennially drunk Withnail.
Discover More: Top 10 Buddy Films since 1980 | Top 10 Male Adventures In Self Discovery | Top 10 Quirky Films

Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.

More on Top 10 Films you might like: Top 10 Films To Make You Reconsider Vacations | British Cinema’s Back Alleys and Byways: A Top 10 | Top 10 Films Inspired by British TV Comedy | Top 10 British Comedy since 1980 | Top 10 British Cult Classics

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Your turn – what are your favourite “Brits on Holiday” films?

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Louise Reply

    I love Summer Holiday, I don’t care how uncool it is. It’s fun and the tunes are great.

    And I want to refurbish a London bus in my lunch breaks.

  2. Dan Reply

    @Louise: Yep, it was in my head for ages after writing this! Summer Holiday definitely has a certain winning charm. :)

  3. Raghav Reply

    Seen about 50% of those. A great list and I’ve always been a fan of Summer Holiday.

  4. Mark Reply

    The minute I saw this I thought: Withnal and I.

    Others:

    (1) If It’s Tuesday, It must be Belgium
    (2) Travels With My Aunt
    (3) Midnight Express – John Hurt’s Max must surely have been a Btitish tourist

    Good call on Wolf Creek …

  5. Rodney Reply

    For me, it will always be Mr Bean. Rowan Atkinson, you mad, crazy bastard.

  6. Evan Crean Reply

    It’s probably not surprising that as an American, I have neither seen nor heard of most of these films. The only one I have watched is Wolf Creek which definitely erased any desire to visit the Australian outback without proper escort. Although the people in that film are literally so dumb and blow so many chances to escape that I started rooting for the bad guy. Strangely even though I haven’t seen Summer Holiday, I’m familiar with the song. A friend of mine’s mum is British and he told me she’d sing that song when the family would go on vacation haha.

  7. ruth Reply

    Great list here Dan, you manage to get a variety of genres too. I might check out Mr Bean’s Holiday, that guy never fails to make me laugh!

  8. Novroz Reply

    I am keeping this in mine :)
    The only one I have seen is only Mr.Bean (which is far better than his adventure in US). I have Sightseers but haven’t watched it yet.

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