Ernest Dudley

Family name: 
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
17 Mar 1999
Production Media: 

Horizontal tabs

Interview notes



Born 1908 in Dudley; family name Coltman Allen. His father was a doctor who became a hotelier after the [first] World War, in Cookham. Schooling: Boarder at Taplow, age 14. Started boxing as a career at 16. Then in the next year got a job at £1 a week with Charles Doran an actor-manager touring Ireland. Tour of Egypt with Robert Atkins company. 1927, job with Basil Dean, in The Constant Nymph. Toured Canada, on return joined the repertory theatre at King’s Cross, where they played a new play weekly. The Regent Theatre.


He continues to talk about the Regent. Then with Sir John Martin Harvey in Lyon’s Mail and A Tale of Two Cities; toured with Rex Harrison for a year then after that worked as an Assistant Stage Manager for Basil Dean’s Autumn Crocus. Later started writing and also became a press agent. Got to know the features editor of the Daily Mail and started writing a weekly night club column. Met Fred Astaire and Clare Luce.


Night club column continued. Did walk on parts in a silent film directed by Graham Cutts; talks about John Paddy Carstairs, Walter Mycroft of BIP [British International Pictures]. Wrote for the Hollywood Reporter for a few weeks. Became a scriptwriter at BIP, but they had no policy and he never met any of the directors. Then moved to Fox-British and became a staff writer, this is where he got script writing credits (see Rachel Low). When Fox closed down Wembley Studios he moved to Denham.


Dudley backtracks to talk about Val Guest, Fox-British, John Gartside. He then moves to talking about working in sound radio working with Leslie Perowne but due to his own depression gave that up and went back to writing. BBC took a lot of his scripts, in 1938 Mr Walker Wants to Know started. He is interesting on the BBC’s attitudes to fees and percentages. He then talks about Jack Hylton and Band Waggon at the Palladium. During World War Two he wrote for the Ministry of Information. Wrote the Sexton Blake series with George Curzon in the title role. Wrote for Amalgamated Press magazines.


A.P. Magazines, detective fiction; also, for D.C. Thomsons in Dundee he wrote novels which were only available in libraries. He talks about Meet Doctor Morrell; Monday Night at Eight. He then talks about Ronnie Waldman and various other radio executives.


This is the wartime and he talks about [radio series] Crime Chasers Ltd. and relates various stories about Jack Buchanan and Jack Hylton. He writes another [radio] series of Dr Morelle, with Cecil Parker in the part. He also wrote the film script for Hammer Films. Continued writing, including a novel An Elephant called Slowly, based upon a film for £500. Wrote various animal books. Dudley spent most of his working career either on the stage or in radio, either as actor, stage manager, scripting and as an actor.