Betty E Box
This younger sister of screenwriter-producer Sydney Box was a pioneer in the British film industry. Born in Beckenham, Kent, Betty E Box entertained thoughts of a career as a commercial artist but recognized she lacked the requisite talent. Secretarial courses proved equally uninspiring. By the late 1930s, her brother Sydney and his second wife Muriel had begun to produce films and they offered her a slot at their Verity Films. Box proved a natural at maintaining costs to a minimum and keeping a sharp eye on the bottom line. At a time when the role of women in film was mostly relegated to before the camera work, Betty Box excelled in packaging and overseeing the making of features. After a promotion to production manager, she eventually made the leap to producing, serving as an associate on "The Seventh Veil" (1945).
When her brother was hired by J Arthur Rank to run Gainsborough Studios, he accepted on the condition that Betty be put in charge of the slightly smaller Islington Studios, where she oversaw over two dozen features. While the first, "Dear Murderer" (1947), was a disappointing drama about adultery, she scored with the fantasy "Miranda" (1948). a comedy about a mermaid. Shortly thereafter, she married her second husband, producer Peter Rogers (best known for the "Carry On" series of lowbrow comedies) and met the director Ralph Thomas with whom she would collaborate on some 30 films over a 20-plus time span. Thomas proved proficient with thrillers like "The Clouded Yellow" (1950) and a remake of Hitchcock's "The Thirty-Nine Steps" (1959), starring Kenneth More, but he and Box found their biggest success with the "Doctor in the House" series. Beginning with the initial installment in 1954 and running to 1970's "Doctor in Trouble", the slickly produced. modestly-budgeted films proved to be their legacy, although the first in the series remains the most amiable and funniest.