Peter Rogers Interview
Conducted in April 1997 by Alan Preece
AP - What have you got planned for the future with the Carry Ons?
PR - Nothing really, because first of all so many of the cast are not here anymore, although one can start again with the Ian Lavenders, and Davenports and all those sorts of people that are on television. It's a question of cost today because the margin is so narrow now and films are so expensive to make. Columbus was a very expensive film. I would like to do Carry On specials for television, that's what I would really like to do. I can't see people queuing in the rain in Wigan to go and see a Carry On but I can see them enjoying them on television.
AP - Which is your favourite film?
PR - Khyber.
AP - Why is that?
PR - Well, I think it was very well done and I think also because we very nearly didn't make it and that was because when I'd finished with the script Gerald Thomas said to me 'Oh I don't think we can make this'. I said, 'Why not', and he said, 'Well, that lifting up the kilts at the end'. I said, 'What's the matter with that'. He said, 'Well, I don't think my children would like it'. They were very young then. I said, 'We're not making it for your children, we're making it for a lot of other people. I think because it justified my decision, was one of the elements [why it's my favourite].
AP - Did you ever think the series was going to be big when you were making it?
PR - No, we never thought that. We never wanted to make it any bigger you see. When we first hit the jackpot with Sergeant. well that's one thing, perhaps a lucky fluke everyone said but when we did it again with Nurse only bigger the producer used to say to me, 'Oh Peter, now you can make an epic if you want to, you can write your own ticket'. I said, 'I don't want to make any bloody epics. I want to stay in my own backyard and make another Carry On'. I had a lot of subjects that I wanted to make, scripts I'd bought and subjects I'd bought and I put them all aside.
AP - The music was a big part of the Carry Ons, did you contribute in any way?
PR - Eric Rogers, who was no relation, and I used to get together and put our heads together because he was a good craftsman, he knew a lot about music, but if you understand me, he didn't know a lot of music, particularly classical music. For instance, in Carry On Matron, in one of the hospital scenes, Gwen Watford was waddling down the corridor heavily pregnant. He said, 'What on earth do we do for that'. I said, 'Well you know there's a piece of music in the Pictures From An Exhibition called the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks', I said, 'Let's use that'. So it was a little joke between us, I don't know if anybody got it.
AP - A lot of the small parts were played by actors who kept appearing again and again, was this planned?
PR - We liked to keep our friends together. We almost had a repertory you see. And the same applied to the crew. We had almost the same electricians and people on each picture. In make up and hairdressing, when a couple of them retired and when we were making another Carry On, they asked if they could come back and do it. So we had the same people with us all the time.
AP - There have been a few books released in recent years about the Carry On series, were you involved with them at all?
PR - No, I've been interviewed for the books, of course, but there were two books published without any contact with me or anyone at all, Laughing and Companion. And, of course, the one by Nina and Sally Hibbin, they were very rude about Convenience and some people have picked it up which is rather aggravating really, because I know why they didn't like Convenience because it was about unions and Nina Hibbin was a card-carrying Communist. She used to write for the Daily Worker and that's what she didn't like about. She subscribed to the Communist Party and she hated the idea and that was personal and she should never have put it in the book.
AP - Was there a secret to the films' success?
PR - Well I suppose we didn't want to be too clever. You must remember that the first half a dozen or so had U certificates, which was quite a battle with the censors. And I had quite a battle also with the distributors to say we must go from U to A, because I said the Carry Ons have got to grow up. You can't keep making them for children.
AP - If you're watching TV and a Carry On comes on, are you likely to watch it?
PR - I've never seen one. I don't look at them. It's not because I don't want to but you see, I never saw them in London, I never saw a preview or anything. Once they left the studio here, I said to Gerald, 'Leave them alone, don't start fiddling with them. That's what we think they should be and that's what it's going to be'
AP - Next year is the 40th anniversary of the first Carry On, have you anything planned?
PR - Not from my point of view. I've got some meetings arranged with one or two people who are trying to set up a documentary about 40 years of the Carry Ons, but, of course, what they'll have to do is make it themselves and sell it unless they can get someone to back them. I can't see them going to the BBC or somebody and saying we want to do a documentary about the Carry Ons because it's all been done.
AP - Thank You