Monday 26 February 2018

Carry On Researching: The Gerald Thomas Archive


As this year marks sixty years since the very first Carry On film was made, I wanted to do something special to celebrate the occasion. Following my recent trip to the British Library to view Kenneth Williams' diaries from the early 1950s, I'm going deeper into the archives later this week, this time at the British Film Institute on London's South Bank.

The BFI hold the complete Gerald Thomas archive and the collection is available for the public to view. Gerald made the wonderful decision to leave all his papers from his long career in film to the nation and following his sad death in November 1993, everything was passed to the British Film Institute. 

The archive is spread across his entire career behind the camera, directing all 31 Carry On films as well as many other pictures, such as Bless This House, Nurse On Wheels, Time Lock and The Big Job. Gerald was fastidious in maintaining records of his career and kept hold of a large amount of cast correspondence, artist contracts, reports from filming and details on budgets, advertising and even medical reports. This should provide a fascinating insight into the films themselves, giving a rare glimpse at the stars away from the sound stages. The archives will also hopefully shed more light on the man himself. Interestingly, Gerald also kept scrap books on each of the films he directed, pasting in newspaper articles, features and reviews.

I have been in contact with one of the archivists at the BFI and with her help, have selected some boxes of Gerald's wonderful archive to view. The files I have chosen cover a handful of my favourite films and over the next few weeks I will be blogging some of my highlights from my days in the archives. I can't wait to get started.


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