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Saturday, 25 April 2009

The time I met Peter Rogers.

I just found out that the legendary film Producer Peter Rogers passed away on the 14th April. This news is meaningful to me; not because he Produced the Carry On films, of which I was never really a fan. But because he was the first real film producer I ever met. It was a terrifying and exciting experience which has always stuck with me. Having just found out that he passed away - I thought I would share the story.

I was doing work experience at Pinewood Studios. I was given a stack of photos of the cast of a British TV show. Pinewood needed to post them and get them signed by the actors. The only problem was, they didn't know the names of the actors. That was my job. I flicked through the thirty or so images and vaguely recognised one woman. This was going to be difficult.

So I began floating around Pinewood Studios trying to find people who might know. Between me and about thirty people who I asked; we came up with the names of two of the actors before the woman who I was working for said, "why don't you ask Pete?" Being a forward-thinking work experience Kid I figured that asking Pete would be a good idea. I just didn't know who Pete was.

"Pete Rogers," said my boss. I could tell I was meant to be impressed. So I became impressed. But I still didn't know who he was. My interest grew much bigger when I was told that he was the Producer of all the Carry On films. As mentioned at the beginning; it's not like I particularly liked the films but I am aware that they are a massively important part of the history of British cinema-- and if one man was responsible for all of them; well then he was a person I would want to meet, talk to, befriend, etc.

So I got a meeting set up with Peter Rogers. The Pinewood staff convinced me that Peter would be a fountain of knowledge when it comes to actors; which would help me massively with my quest.

I arrived for my meeting. The middle-aged assistant greeted me kindly and we had a little small talk. I asked about what projects they were working on, if any-- and she told me a bit about Carry On London which they were trying to produce (and still are, and have been for about the last twenty years). I nodded and listened; desperately wanting to sound enthusiastic about the new film. I don't remember if the assistant walked me in or if Peter came to greet me. All I remember is feeling utterly dwarfed by his office.

The room was big - and extremely tidy. The desk was a giant, dark-brown wooden thing, much like the whole room. There were no documents around-- just the newspaper that was placed open on his desk. We exchanged brief hellos and then he asked me, quite bluntly, what it was that I wanted.

I explained that I had been given a task and wanted his help. He took the photos and began flicking through them. Within three or four pictures he looked a little distraught; a little frustrated that he didn't recognize anyone. "What is this for? What is the picture?."

I then used the dreaded word. Television. He threw the pictures down. "I work in pictures, not television" he said dismissively. He was everything of the big-time Film Producer cliche. It scared the crap out of me. There was no friendliness in the room - no happy energy floating around.. just his disdain for my presence. Without confidence I mumbled something like "I think some of them have worked in pictures." He knew as well as I did that I wasn't old enough or clever enough to be able to use the word 'pictures'.

"Is there anything else?" he asked as he handed the images back to me. "No, I don't think so."

"Thank you." he responded, before getting back to his newspaper. It was time for me to leave.

The Peter Rogers I met wasn't particularly friendly or welcoming. It was intimidating and scary in a way that I have not really been able to explain here. Having said that - for me, it was a great experience. I was just a kid at Pinewood Studios; and I was having a meeting with a legendary film producer in his nineties.

Peter Rogers - responsible for some of the most loved and memorable comedies to come out of the U.K. A man with an incredible career who deserves to be remembered, and admired. And, also, to be slightly scared of. R.I.P. Peter - Thanks for the movies.

Care to share?


  1. Well at least he was memorable. Better than him being dull :)

  2. You took it better than I would have. I have a real problem with higher ups that act like...well...higher ups.

  3. I think it's kind of sad. For him, anyway. How terrible it must be to be so talented, and such an utter shit in person.