Peter Rogers: Interview 1 | Interview 2 | Interview 3 | Interview 4

Our Job? To Make People Laugh

Screen Magazine, 1966

Peter Rogers, who is married to producer Betty Box, lives near Pinewood at Beaconsfield. He is always looking for new ideas and will read a story "even if it is written on the back of a used envelope". He doesn't go to the films often and he never discusses his work with his wife. "We never cross each other," he explains. "No two people think the same way when it comes to making pictures."

Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas do not claim that their films deserve Oscars, but they do claim they make money. And there is no point in arguing that one. Just go to a cinema where one of their films is showing and not the smile form the manager has he hears the box-office clicking away.

In the ten years they have been together, Rogers and Thomas have chalked up more hits than almost any British film team you can name. And, from the moment the idea for their latest comedy was conceived, it was predicted another hit was on the way.

The film's title? Don't Lose your Head. It's stars? What Rogers calls "my own little repertory": Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims and Charles Hawtrey.

"It's a send up of the French Revolution". Rogers told me when we met at Pinewood. "It's something like my 27th film with Gerry Thomas and I think it's one of our best.

Although the Carry On series ranks as the most successful in films, when the first picture was made (Carry On Sergeant) it was not intended to have a sequel. Then came the idea of a comedy set in a hospital (Carry On Nurse) and the series was born.

"Our aim has been to make commercially successful comedies, not great films - and we've done it," Rogers said. "Naturally, there are times when we want to break away from the kind of film we're associated with - but it's damn difficult. Frankly, we are too busy to even contemplate the idea.

We enjoy making people laugh and we seem to be able to get them out of their armchairs. We don't believe the public wants to stay in every day watching television. The job of the film producer is to coax people out of their homes and the films we make seem to do this.

Comedy is a very personal thing," added Rogers. "Different people laugh at our films for different reasons; the important thing is they do laugh. I don't want to analyze what it is that amuses them. If someone told me exactly why I enjoyed something, I doubt if I'd enjoy it anymore. People don't want to know why they put one foot in front of the other. All we know is, audiences seem to laugh at more or less the same kind of thing they laughed at ten or even 20 years ago."

Rogers and Thomas work closely together, throwing ideas at each other across their elegant office at Pinewood.

After Don't Lose your Head, the successful team are to make a film which sends up the French Foreign Legion. Then comes a comedy about Henry VIII and his many wives.

"We want Harry Secombe to play Henry", Rogers told me. "One of the ideas we have is that he writes madrigals which he hopes will get to the top of the Hit Parade. When he finishes up fifth in the charts, he has the top four artists beheaded!"