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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fact 33. Gerald Thomas directed all 31 'Carry on' films.

Gerald Thomas was born in Hull and studied medicine at Bristol and London. During the war he joined the Royal Sussex Regiment and served in Europe and the Middle East. After being de-mobbed he decided not to return to medicine and entered the film industry as an Editor at Denham Studios. He had several credits on films. His older brother Ralph was also in the industry and he worked with a producer called Peter Rodgers. Gerald worked in the cutting room with Peter's wife Betty and through her we learned that Gerald wanted to become a director. Peter decided to back him.

Gerald Thomas.

Their first film took a year to set up but finally in 1956 'Circus Friends' was released for the Children's Film Foundation. After several more films in 1958 they obtained a straight drama script call 'Bull Boys' about a concert ballet dancer whose boyfriend was called up on the day they were to be married. It was re-scripted and renamed and became 'Carry on Sergeant'.

Carry On Sergeant.jpg
Film poster for Carry on Sergeant.

They spotted the potential of the film and soon they were making 3 a year, then two and then, in the 1970's 1. In total they made 31 'Carry On' films. The films were low budget and financed entirely with British money. Each film only took about six weeks to film and very really did Thomas over run. He ran a very relaxed atmosphere on set and was thought of as a father like figure for the cast and crew. He was master of improvisation for film locations using Welsh gates as the border on the Khyber Pass and sand dunes on the south coast for desert scenes. He also had a good sense of fun such as replacing water in a glass with gin.

Fun on the set.

Love them or hate them they made a fortune for the films distributors and made millionaires out of Peter Rodgers and Gerald Thomas. Thomas died on 9th November 1993 in Beaconsfield.

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