There was a fic­tional doc­tor in this house ... amongst oth­ers

Cred­ited with mak­ing stars of both Don­ald Sin­den and Dirk Bog­a­rde, the Doc­tor se­ries of films were pro­duced by Betty Box. She and Bog­a­rde both lived in the same Bea­cons­field home, just one of the three lo­cal houses Dirk Bog­a­rde in­hab­ited. Don­ald Stan­ley f

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - THEN AND NOW - Can you con­trib­ute to our lo­cal history sec­tion? Email debby.thompson@trin­i­tymir­

DRUM­MERS Yard on the Amer­sham Road has been the home of three Bea­cons­field res­i­dents fa­mous in the film in­dus­try: the ac­tor Dirk Bog­a­rde, Betty Box pro­ducer of the ‘Huggetts’ and ‘Doc­tor’ films, and her hus­band Peter Rogers of the ‘Carry On’ films.

It was built in 1938 for a South African diamond mer­chant named Ris­sik.

Per­haps what the ar­chi­tec­tural his­to­rian Niko­laus Pevs­ner de­scribed as its idio­syn­cratic lay­out and un­ex­pected form led him to in­clude it in his guide to English build­ings.

Orig­i­nally named Birchens Spring, it was empty and ne­glected when Dirk Bog­a­rde moved into it in 1960.

He re­named it Drum­mers Yard af­ter the statue of a lit­tle drum­mer boy that stood there.

Dirk had lived in other houses in the Chilterns two of them on Amer­sham Com­mon: Ben­drose House with a ghost that gave visi­tors elec­tric shocks, and the 16th cen­tury Beel House which be­came the home of rock mu­si­cian Ozzy Os­bourne and later of TV pre­sen­ter and politi­cian Robert Kil­roy-Silk.

Af­ter only two years, staff prob­lems led Dirk to sell Drum­mers Yard to Peter Rogers and Betty Box where they spent the rest of their lives.

Betty and Peter had worked to­gether in 1947 when she pro­duced her first film which he had scripted with her brother and sis­ter-in-law, Muriel Box. They mar­ried in 1948. Two years later she made her first film with Dirk Bog­a­rde.

Peter is best known as the pro­ducer of the 31 in­nu­endo laden ‘Carry On’ films although his early ca­reer had in­cluded script writ­ing for re­li­gious in­for­ma­tional films.

The mak­ing of them was some­times as sur­real as their scripts as when a camel fea­tured in one re­fused to walk on sand and co-op­er­ated only when pro­vided with a sub­sti­tute sur­face.

Betty Box com­menced her ca­reer in the mo­tion pic­ture in­dus­try by join­ing her brother, Syd­ney Box, first at Ver­ity Films mak­ing train­ing and short World War II pro­pa­ganda films, and sub­se­quently at Gains­bor­ough Pic­tures.

When Gains­bor­ough closed she moved to Pinewood Stu­dios, Iver Heath for which Drum­mers Yard would be con­ve­niently close.

At Pinewood she made the ‘Doc­tor’ se­ries with the di­rec­tor Ralph Thomas.

A large house in Wind­sor End, Old Bea­cons­field pro­vided the fic­tional home of one of the char­ac­ters, the iras­ci­ble chief sur­geon Sir Lancelot Spratt played by James Robert­son Jus­tice.

The se­ries is cred­ited with help­ing to make stars of Dirk Bog­a­rde and Don­ald Sin­den.

Dirk Bog­a­rde lived in Bea­cons­field and Amer­sham Com­mon.

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