Producer & "Mr Carry On"

Peter Rogers Best Film Carry On At Your Convenience
Films 31 -  Sergeant, Nurse, Teacher, Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Cabby, Jack, Spying, Cleo, Cowboy, Screaming, Don't Lose Your Head, Follow That Camel, Doctor, Up The Khyber, Again Doctor, Camping, Up The Jungle, Loving, Henry, At Your Convenience, Abroad, Matron, Girls, Dick, Behind, England, That'sEmmannuelle, Columbus


Peter Rogers was born in Rochester, Kent on the 20th February 1914 in a bed next to his mother (a joke Peter likes to tell!).  He started his career in journalism writing on the local paper and then in Fleet Street and he tried his hand writing radio plays for the BBC.  He entered the film business as a writer of 5-minute religious shorts called Thought Of The Week for J Arthur Rank.  After the war, when he was working as a scriptwriter for Gainsborough Pictures he teamed up with his future wife Betty Box, one of Britain's top film producers and they collaborated successfully on a number of productions at the old Islington Studios and later in Gainsborough Studios in Shepherds Bush.  Rogers made several children's films including The Dog And The Diamonds which won a Venice Film Festival Award in 1963.

Even when the Carry On films became the focal point of Rogers' career, he remained a prolific producer making well over a hundred films, most of them with Gerald Thomas as director.

Cut the cakeHis wife, Betty Box, made numerous films including the popular Doctor series, all of which have been directed by Ralph Thomas, Gerald's older brother.  Peter, a young producer at the time, formed a close working relationship with Gerald Thomas and together they make a formidable team whose skill has combined to make a British Institution.  It took them a year to set up their first film, Circus Friends, written by Peter.

It was an amiable adventure story for the Children's Film Foundation in which a girl rescues a pony destined for the knackers yard.  At Beaconsfield Studios they made several pictures together working on tight schedules and even tighter budgets. They were suspense films rather than comedies including the highly praised Time Lock written by Arthur Hailey which gave Sean Connery his first speaking role and A Vicious Circle with Sir John Mills in the lead.

Peter Rogers had the rights to R F Delderfields story The Bull Boys, a straightforward account of a ballet dancer whose boyfriend is called up on the day that they had to be married.  Rogers saw the potential for comedy and he tells a possibly apochryphal story of how he found a scriptwriter.  He went to Eric Sykes who, feeling sore after a recent hassle in the film industry, told him that all producers were shits and abruptly showed him the door.  He then went to see Spike Milligan who had a revolver on his desk, "I'm going to shoot my wife", he announced.  Rogers advised him that it might be easier to divorce her and went instead to see Norman Hudis.

Hudis' script cut out the ballet dancer and concentrated on barrack room life, whose comic aspects had been popularised by TV's The Army Game Rogers liked it and secured backing from Anglo Amalgamated.  Anglo's boss, Stuart Levy, came up with the title Carry On Sergeant.  Halfway through filming the Anglo's chief took fright after seeing some of the rushes.  They said it was not funny and threatened to withdraw.  For Rogers and Thomas who could see that the jokes were working, the solution was simple, they didn't show Anglo any more rushes until shooting was finished.  Their confidence was justified by the results, a low budget film costing 74,000.  It took everybody, including Rogers and Thomas, by surprise, when it leapt in to third place in the 1958 box office ratings.  It cried out for a follow-up, Carry On Nurse did even better.  It not only topped the box office charts, it also ran for two and a half years in the United States.

Penny for them...As the producer of the Carry Ons, Rogers is largely concerned with the financial side (although he is proud of having contributed to the scripts) and over the years has had a guiding influence over the music.  He is also the arbiter of the artistic content.  All the Carry Ons have been made without a dollar of American money.  No mean achievement in an industry which traditionally relied heavily on American capital. Rogers who regards himself as a true Brit revels, in the Britishness of his films, and has never been to the United States and has no wish to go there.  He believes the foundation of the series' success is the fact that, "We never, never, never lose sight of the audience".  He argues that his understanding of what makes the Carry Ons tick does not stem from any carefully researched analysis but from the navel.

His navel has not served him bad.  The Carry On films have regularly appeared in the Top Ten lists.  As Rogers points out, every seven years there is a new generation of youngsters to enjoy them.  In addition they have been sold around the world and have all been highly profitable.  The country where they are least successful is France as Rogers dryly observes, "We talk about it, they do it".  He reckons he has only made a couple of mistakes but he is careful not to name them as they concern casting.

He died on the  April 14, 2009 (age 95) in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England.

 

Filmography
 Chronologically (except Carry Ons)
Externally linked to IMDB

Notorious Woman (TV)
All Coppers Are...
Bless This House
Assault (Executive)
Inn of the Frightened People (Executive)
Quest for Love
Big Job, The
Nurse on Wheels
This Is My Street
Iron Maiden, The
Watch Your Stern
Please Turn Over
Ivanhoe (TV, Executive)
After the Ball
Cat Girl
Chain of Events
Passionate Stranger, A

Time Lock (Writer)
Vicious Circle, The
Circus Friends (Writer)
You Know What Sailors Are (Writer)
Gay Dog, The (Writer)
Up to His Neck (Story)
To Dorothy a Son
Dog and the Diamonds, The
Appointment with Venus
Don't Ever Leave Me
It's Not Cricket
Marry Me
Here Come the Huggetts (Writer)
Holiday Camp (Writer)
Dear Murderer (Writer)
When the Bough Breaks (Writer)

 


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