Sunday 18 September 2016

The Peter and Betty Legacy


I came across this story through random Googling (Matron!) but it's rather a sweet one so I thought I would share it on the blog. Peter Rogers is a famous, legendary part of both the Carry On story and the British film industry. He was the driving force, together with his excellent director Gerald Thomas, behind the long running and still hugely successful Carry On franchise but his presence always splits opinion amongst fans.

While we will always owe Peter a debt of gratitude for being the business brain which kept the Carry On show on the road for so many films and so many years, he also gained rather a negative reputation as a penny pincher who was more interested in making money for himself than paying his stars. Harsh words maybe, but stories of Carry On actors' salaries and the lack of repeat fees have become infamous over the years with several big names still bitter about the way they were treated.

However, before he died Peter did change his will. Rogers left behind a section of his estate to help fund a comedy writing programme to help nurture new talent. The programme, which is also in the name of his late wife, the film producer Betty Box (of the Doctor films), forms part of the London Comedy Film Festival. The programme will concentrate on script development, supporting four up and coming comedy writers. Each writer will be awarded £10,000 and be given a personalised seven month programme of specialist industry support to help develop a comedy film screenplay. 

At the end of the seven months, the four writers will have their scripts performed as a live, fully cast read through in front of an audience of industry members. The support Betty and Peter have left for this comes as part of their donation to the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. The programme is supported by both the London Comedy Film Festival and the Cinema and Televsion Benevolent Fund.

Applications for the programme closed on 26 August, with the winners announced the week commencing 3rd October. The programme will end in May 2017 to coincide with the live performance of the finished scripts.

I think this is an admirable project and while it doesn't help those Carry On actors who struggled during and towards the end of their lives, it should give a kick start to some new, promising fresh talent. I will be keeping an eye on this one and reporting back as things progress,

You can find out more about this programme and the London Comedy Film Festival here 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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