The whole idea of this new series of blogs is to flag up specific individuals who, in my humble opinion, really made the Carry On films what they were. So many of the actors and crew turned up at Pinewood again and again, working closely over the years to produce such a fine body of work. This week it's the turn of the man who, love him or loathe him, was the driving force of the Carry On films for many decades, Mr Peter Rogers.
Peter Rogers is sometimes seen as a divisive figure. There has been much negative publicity over the years due to his apparent penny pinching ways, the low salaries paid to his regular actors and the way he treated his cast and crew. All that aside, the majority of his actors were incredibly loyal, some for decades, so he must have been doing something right.
Rogers was notorious for keeping a tight hold of the purse strings, not lavishing cash on his productions and doing everything on a budget. While some would criticise this, the Carry Ons cheapness allowed them to be churned out regularly and there is something cosy and oh so very British about the production values and limited locations. I think increasing the budgets would have lost the essence of the films. They were cheap and cheerful and we loved them for it.
Rogers had a keen eye when it came to casting decisions. Just look at the wonderful band of actors he managed to secure for each and every one of the films. He turned jobbing actors like Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims and Peter Butterworth into stars and legends of British comedy. He may not have paid them accordingly, but the quick turnaround on the lot at Pinewood enabled them to move on to a vast range of other projects.
I find some of the tales told around money and actors wages on the Carry Ons to be deeply upsetting. However, despite all this, Peter Rogers deserves to be one of my Carry On Heroes as quite simply, without him at the helm from 1958 until 1992 we just would not have had all those glorious Carry On adventures. He had such self belief in his Carry On formula with an eye for the latest thing. He was first and foremost a canny businessman and he must be admired for all he achieved.
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