TV documentary, feature, 1 x 90 mins
BETTY BOX OFFICE lifts the lid on the astonishing career of legendary film producer, Betty Box, her marriage to Carry On producer Peter Rogers, her prolific output during her 30 years with Rank and how, against all the odds, she managed to stay at the top of a notoriously male dominated and at times, misogynistic industry.
Betty E. Box is synonymous with the golden age of British film and is our most successful female producer. She earnt her nick name, ‘Betty Box Office’ because of her innate ability to know what the public wanted and to produce films that became major box office successes. Over three decades, Betty and her husband, Peter Rogers produced some of the biggest grossing films at the UK and overseas box offices, providing badly needed financial security for the struggling Rank Organisation.
With exclusive archive material and newly recorded contributions we take a fresh look at Betty’s life and career, her wartime documentary film experience working for her brother Sydney, her early career at Gainsborough, her landmark productions at Pinewood Studios for Rank, not least of all the highly successful Doctor series, her fifty-year marriage to Carry On producer, Peter Rogers and how, despite ingrained prejudice, she was able to stay at the top of an unrepresentative film industry.
New interviews with family, former colleagues and present-day filmmakers explore Betty’s personality, her outstanding contribution to film history and lessons we can learn from her experiences, including:
- Elke Sommer (A Shot in the Dark, Percy, Percy’s Progress), close friend of Betty and Peter
- Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor), Oscar and BAFTA winning producer, former chair BFI, Ralph Thomas’ son
- Marc Sinden, who had Betty Box and Peter Rogers as God parents, Donald Sinden’s son
- Sylvia Syms (Conspiracy of Hearts, Ice Cold in Alex, The Queen)
- Nanette Newman (The League of Gentlemen, The Love Ban)
- Derek Fowlds (Hot Enough for June, Yes Minister)
- Angela Douglas (Carry On Up the Khyber, Dr Who), Kenneth More’s widow
- Jenny Hanley (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Percy’s Progress)
- Judy Matheson (Twins of Evil, Percy’s Progress)
- Morris Bright MBE, author, journalist, broadcaster, Peter Rogers’ biographer
- Madeline Smith (Live and Let Die, The Love Ban), our narrator
BETTY BOX OFFICE explores the challenges that Betty faced to stay at the top of an industry that would be incredibly difficult today, but in the 1950s must have seemed almost impossible; even more incredible then that in 1958 she should be awarded the OBE by the Queen for her outstanding contribution to British film.
We see her dogged determination that helped win countless battles with Rank management, her fight for equal pay with her male colleagues and explore lessons around persistence and equality that emerging and established filmmakers can learn from her today, for what is still an unrepresentative industry.
Archive material and clips help bring the story alive, providing insights into her life and career, including interviews with Betty and Peter, items from Peter’s personal collection, and rare footage of Dirk Bogarde returning to Pinewood Studios for the first time in 33 years.
BETTY BOX OFFICE will appeal to those who have a passion for the arts, contemporary filmmaking and film history, in particular classic British cinema. Audiences will respond to the programme’s line-up of authoritative contributors, their reflections on the golden age of British film and their views on the industry today. They’ll warm to how Betty handled the many challenges that she faced every day of her working life, appreciate the parallels with what today’s creators face and take encouragement from her successes.
BETTY BOX OFFICE is currently in pre-production with RABBIT & SNAIL FILMS, we’re a UK production company, we create multi-platform documentaries for broadcast and digital distribution. Producers: Richard Edwards and Morris Bright MBE.
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