Adele Spencer (nee Reynolds)

Family name: 
Spencer (nee Reynolds)
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
10 Dec 1991
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

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Interview notes


NB Unfortunately there are no indications where each side begins or ends]

Adele Spencer – formerly Reynolds: born in Cheshire June 1928. Family interested in theatre: her mother’s sister was a stage actress who later married Cecil Parker. Adele considered acting but was fired at the age of ten by a talk by a continuity girl and decided that this was what she wanted to do. Met Maggie Unsworth when visiting Denham [Studios] with Cecil Parker who offered to train her. – so finished her secretarial course quickly and moved to digs [lodgings] in Ickenham, and to work at Pinewood. Tom White, Studio Manager paid her 30/- [£1.50] a week, but family subsidised. Maggie taught her by having her beside her at all times. Learned to rely on diary and full, longhand record of filming.

She moved on within a year to continuity girl on 2nd Units. It was a six-day week (1946) with hours 8.30am to 6.30pm, generally 5pm on Saturdays (later 1pm) but all typing still had to be done. Work for assistants dwindled and became short. Watched rushes in lunch hour.

First film was Take My Life – Greta Gynt and Hugh Williams: then part of Blanche Fury (Maggie Unsworth had moved on to Oliver Twist for David Lean) as Assistant, taking over when Maggie left. She worked next for a year as Continuity Girls at the Rank Charm School.

Not common, or at all easy to change grades at that time and few places for women as editors or production managers. Adele comments on how cumbersome Technicolor and sound processes were then. She worked mostly at Pinewood and Walton-on-Thames Studios under contract and mentions that units worked together for long periods as a consequence. These were mainly ‘B’ pictures in the 1950s by now, and they were glad of the work. Directors were Val Guest [BEHP Interview No 48] and Lewis Gilbert[Interview No 386]. She worked occasionally at Brighton Studios and once at Elstree – mostly at Pinewood. On some locations, too, e.g. On Penny Princess with her now husband Ronnie Spencer, and starring Dirk Bogarde in Spain/Morocco. Six or eight weeks on location typical and six months spent in Morocco. Packed lunches rather than caterers and local labour to move equipment. Adele worked on Independent Frame at Pinewood and thought it restricting, and problems resulted. It ran for some eighteen months and five or six films at Pinewood and then was discontinued.

Maggie Unsworth was the technician who without a doubt helped and influenced Adele the most; and Val Guest. In spite of a reputation for impatience, was very kind to her and taught her a lot about cutting – she’d have liked to have had a chance to work in editing. She learned a lot from Lewis Gilbert also.

Like most at that time, she was accepted into the Union when he got her first job and was recruited by an American that she can only remember as ‘Hank’. He was a boom-operator as well as Shop Steward. She remembers no industrial action at that time. Certain that ACTT was very valuable to cut out exploitation of crews.

Returned to work in 1968 as a chaperone to children on a Children’s Film Foundation film in Tunisia, and helped out with continuity. (She had left the industry in 1958.)

She joined Ronnie at Pacesetter Productions in Wardour Street in 1980 – mainly documentaries, commercials and sponsored films. Moved down to Ockley (home) when moved into video market. Now [1991] Production Manager for Ronnie’s films. Both on jury for Children’s Film Festival in Russia, and have since tried to set up films there: made a few shorts in Russia.

Has worked on films for the Royal Household in recent years and videos of Prince Charles. She would have liked to have gone to a film school initially. The interview ends with memories of how laborious some 28 copies of the diary and notes were on a carbon-copy typewriter, and even the new Gestetner machines were hard to work. ‘What a boon video copies are now for continuity’.




Married to Ronald Spencer. See interview No 212