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The Rank School of Charmers
A new documentary for
BBC Radio 2

In post war Britain, during the period 1945 to the mid-sixties, cinema was the most popular form of entertainment and the Rank Organisation, the dominant force in film production and distribution. The explosion of new Rank productions however, posed an unusual problem, there were to few young, up and coming actors. The Company of Youth, swiftly nicknamed by the press “The Charm School”, created by the Organisation to find, train, and publicise new talent, provided the solution.
Established adjacent to Rank's experimental Highbury studio in a disused church hall, under the aegis of Olive Dodds, the Organisation's Director of Artistes, the school trained its pupils in every thing from voice production to fencing, and through it's portals passed some of the young hopefuls who were later to attain world-wide stardom including:
Diana Dors, Shirley Eaton, Christopher Lee, Kay Kendal, Pete Murray, and Anthony Steele.
Rewind Production's one hour documentary, The Rank School of Charmers, narrated by George Baker, written by Emlyn Harris and produced by Neil Rosser, opens the doors to the school and delves behind the scenes to investigate the academy's idiosyncratic methods, its eccentic pedagogues, and the stepping stones to stardom it allegedly provided.

Starlets Stepping Out

Rank school starlets stepping out.

Amongst the line-up in this publicity still from the 1951 film 'Lady Godiva Rides Again', are Diana Dors (fifth from the left) and, appearing in her first movie, Joan Collins (at the end of the line on the right).

Enlivened with first-hand interviews from amongst others Olive Dodds, film producer Betty Box, legendary portrait photographer Cornel Lucas, and a multitude of stars including; Sir Richard Attenborough, Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, Joan Collins, Diana Dors, David McCallum, Barbara Murray, Sir John Mills and Bill Owen, and featuring classic Rank film clips, archive material, and music soundtracks, The Rank School of Charmers aired 11th August 1998 on BBC Radio 2.

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