Monday 18 April 2016

Carry On Hero of the Week: Alfred Roome


This blog forms part of an occasional series looking at important yet little known or publicly appreciated contibutors to the Carry On series. So far I've included a range of very talented people from both in front and behind the camera. Today we're going back behind the camera with a little look at the career of Alfred Roome.

Alfred Roome was credited as film editor on fifteen Carry On films. A considerable contribution to the success of our favourite comedy film franchise! Roome was part of that solid, reliable team of back room boys who worked tirelessly to make the British film industry what it was, especially at a time when it wasn't exactly flourishing. Gerald Thomas liked to surround himself with a team of professionals whom he could trust to work quickly and get on with the job in hand. Along with the likes of Stella Rivers, Alan Hume and Ernest Steward, Alfred Roome was frequently seen in the opening titles but little else is known about the man.

Born in London in December 1908, Roome knew from an early age that he wanted to work in film. He spent his entire working life as a film editor, occasionally directing films himself. Alfred's earliest film credit was editing the 1932 comedy film Thark, which starred Robertson Hare (who would once work with Joan Sims in the theatre, much later in life) with a script by Ben Travers. Roome also edited some of legendary comedian Will Hay's films, including Boys Will Be Boys in 1935. A career highlight for Roome came in 1938 when he worked on the Alfred Hitchcock classic, The Lady Vanishes.

During the Second World War, Alfred Roome edited propaganda short films for the war effort. Working in this capacity for the Ministry of Information, Roome found himself exempt from military service. During the conflict, Roome also worked as an Air Raid Warden whilst continuing to work as a mainstream film editor. 


In the 1940s Alfred Roome had go at directing films himself. These included the convicts on the run drama My Brother's Keeper in 1948. This film featured a cast which included Jack Warner, David Tomlinson, Bill Owen, George Cole and Susan Shaw. He directed future Carry On Nurse actress Shaw again the following year in the comedy film It's Not Cricket. Roome decided not to continue as a director as he apparently found dealing with actors to be quite a challenge! By the 1950s he had reverted to work as a film editor and began working on a host of familiar titles which included films for Betty Box (Doctor in Love, Doctor in Distress, Upstairs and Downstairs) and other comedy films such as A Pair of Briefs and Hot Enough for June. 

Alfred Roome first began his association with Peter Rogers Productions when he agreed to edit the Carry On film Follow That Camel in 1967. He then went on to edit every other Carry On film in the series up to and including Carry On Behind in 1975. This run of films for Peter and Gerald also included the big screen version of Bless This House, released in 1972. After Carry On Behind was finished in the spring of 1975, Alfred Roome decided to retire from the film industry. 


Roome was a quiet man who maintained few friends from the world of film. He did buy his large house at Fulmer from the legendary actor Sir John Mills. A frequent visitor here throughout his life was the actress Phyllis Calvert - the pair became lifelong friends early on in both their careers, at Gainsborough Studios.  In his life away from film, Roome was a keen gardener and an amateur historian. In 1988, Alfred recorded his reminiscences for an oral history project. I'd love to track those recordings down!

Away from his work in films, Alfred Roome was married the actress Janice Adair. The pair were married from 1929 until Adair's death in 1996. The couple had two children - a daughter and a son, Christopher. Sadly Christopher was amongst the victims of the KIng's Cross fire in 1987. Alfred Roome passed away in November 1997 in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. He was 88 years old. His granddaughter, Olivia, has continued the family tradition and works in the film industry to this day. 


If anyone knows anything more about the late Alfred Roome, please do get in touch as I'd love to hear from you. 

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