Ken Rowles

Family name: 
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
Interview Date(s): 
4 May 2012
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 

Horizontal tabs

Ken Rowles
Ken Rowles
Ken Rowles


KEN ROWLES by Ken Rowles


At 7 years old in 1952 saw a film crew making GENEVIEVE this encouraged him to have a career in film and television. He started in 1960 at Merton Park Studios as a runner before making his way into editing. He talks about the various productions and editing equipment before joining Cupid Productions with the Rolling Stones that lead to producing and directing features, documentaries, and commercials including TRIBUTE TO HER MAJESTY with Sir John Mills and MEMORIES OF JAMES HERRIOT the vet, author with Simon Ward and Christopher Timothy. His recent programme he directed A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN the story of Liberty ships and the SS Richard Montgomery.

Ken Rowles was born on 01/01/1945 in Chesham Buckinghamshire

Rowles first introduction to movies was in early 50’s when he saw from the window of his father’s public house in Hercules road near Westminster Bridge London  two veteran cars on a low loader and a coach with members of the film crew. They was preparing for shooting Genevieve in Streets of Lambeth. Three year later he lived in Fulham, his parents having the George public house next door to the ABC Regal cinema that was pre-release screenings Reach for the Sky starring Kenneth More. After  producer and director held their reception in the saloon bar Rowles a 8 year old met some of the actors and crew members. At 15 Rowles left school and on the 11th August 1960  became the post boy and studio runner at Merton Park Studios near Wimbledon.  Within a year he was working in the editing department on the numbering and assisting editor Bernard Gribble on Edgar Wallace and Scotland Yard series star names Bernard Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Harry H. Corbett, Maxine Audlery, Barbra Windsor. In 1962 Sparrows Can’t Sing directed by Joan Littlwood also starring Barbra Windsor and James Booth was filmed and edited at the studio and Rowles numbered the rushes. Hr went on to work on Chemistry for Six forms a ATV schools programme directed by Philip Wrestler and edited by John Glen. In the mid 60’s he joined other companies within the Film Producers Guild based at the studio before the editing department was moved to Guild House in Upper St Martins Lane in central London. Here  Rowles work as assistant with Michael Barden for RHR Productions on BP films Tribute To Stirling Moss and Muloorinra  Donald Campbells Bluebird land speed record filming in Australia. In 1965 now as Editor was working on various documentaries on films for Army, Government and many blue chip clients. With director David Cobham films for Midland Bank, Seafield Head a Verity Productions when he edited I Cant Answer that Question for RAF.    In 1967 Rowles set up his own cutting rooms with director Philip Wrestler in Long Acre Covent Garden.  Ex Guild director Anthony Short edited The Inn Way Out with actor Hugh Burden and John Le Mesurier. The producer Eleni Collard ask Rowles to join with  Lord Cowdray’s Son Hon Michael Person’s Cupid production as editor of director Jean-Luc Godard’s One Plus One with the Rolling Stones premiered at the National Film Theatre in late 1968 for Rowles this was a production that had its problems when Godard took the production to edit in Paris. On his return co-producer Iain Quarrier asked to rework the material added footage of the Stones and re-titled the film Sympathy with the Devil. Furious at the tampering Godard punched Quarrier and told the audience his version was to be screened outside the theatre beneath Waterloo Bridge. In 69 Rowles edited film inserts for various Anglia Televison dramas at the same time Wrestler had been filming second unit director The Italian Job in Turin for Michael Deeley and Stanley Baker’s Oakhurst Productions. In Rowles cutting room Philip viewed his footage including the Mini Coopers race through the palazzo, the famous coach cliffhanger and the sequence Philip shot in the UK at Stoke Aldermoor near Coventry. In 1970 Pearson asked Ken to join Cupid Productions as one of their producers. Rowles took two feature projects to Cupid productions Man Born to be Queen a comedy that Tony Curtis was keen to star with Lionel Jeffries and Venom a horror film that Pearson arranged to finance and Rowles stared filming at Twickenham Studios and Austria in late 1970 with director Peter Sykes and Ken producing with Pearson and  Quarrier set off to USA to make Vanishing Point.   Man Born to be Queen never went into production as Sir Lew Grade had locked Tony Curtis and Roger Moore into The Persuaders for two years. Ken set up Action Plus Productions at Twickenham Studios with Venom lead actor Simon Brent and writer editor Steve Collins and found investment partners to producer various projects Go Girl was  an idea Ken had for a television series and a pilot Give Me a Ring Sometime was filmed in Spain. Other scrips were in preparation with funding available for various productions Gustove Mahler’s daughter Anna gave Ken the rights on her Mothers book of her father. She asked that Ken Russell must not make the film. After Columbia pictures ask that they met with Ken Russell, Russell told Action Plus investors that Anna could not stop him making the film and some months later Russell and Producer David Puttnam made Mahler. Ken, Simon and Steve had other projects that were in scripting Dick Emery they had You’re Awful – But I like You. When Emery found out that the Action Plus team were in pre-production with Stanley Baker, Michael Deeley’s and Oakhurst to make The Marksman an action police thriller.  Emery said that he did not wish Rowles to produce his film as Action Plus would be busy with Stanley Baker.  Action Plus Productions went into liquidation after Go Girl series was rejected by co producers HTV. Rowles was asked to Line produce Bedtime with Rosie starring Diana Dors and Una Stubbs directed by Wolf Rilla a film that had finance problems and he left the film and went into production on a short film with investor partner on Take An Easy Ride a television programme about the dangers of hitch hiking. In 1976 Rowles set up KFR Productions and bought the rights on a comedy film The Handyman and had idea that the Ups and Downs of a Handyman could become the first of a series. He took the project to Target Films who agreed to put up half of the budget. Ken found the other half and John Sealey joined  to direct with Barry Stokes, Gay Soper, Sue Lloyd, Bob Todd and Chic Murray.  The Ups and Downs of a Soccer star that John Sealey was writing with author Ken Follett they found funding very difficult when Target was not keen on investing in a comedy film about football and the investors in the Handyman had not seen had good returns from their investment. In 1978 Rowles joined film marketing company Film Archive Services to buy films for the Government 0f Nigeria. He spent two years between London, Lagos, Cannes and other film markets buying films including Superman, Superman 2, The Sweeny, Assault on Precinct 13 and other feature films until the contract came to end.  In early 80’s he set up RWH productions in Rochester Kent to make documentaries and television commercials for local companies most screened on TVS just been given the franchise for the Southeast. In 1986 Ken was given the rights on Serge Lemoine’s book Tribute To Her Majesty to make a film to celebrate Queen Elizabeth 60th birthday in March he joined the Royal party in South Australia and back in London on April 21st filmed at Buckingham Palace the birthday celebration. In 89 joined editor director Steve Marians to produce with actor Simon Ward Creature Comfort a documentary about James Herriot and the changes in veterinary profession since Herriot came popular worldwide.     Simon Ward, Steve Marians and Rowles spent the early 90’s working on various scrips for television and Ken as member of BECTU was vice chairman of the producer director writers committee and the unions training committee, he was asked to assist with developing the NVQ’S for film and broadcasting in production management. In 1997 he set up the Thanet Movie Centre and Museum that closed after two years due to funding problems with partner’s lack of interest.    2003 -2005 Ken directed Sailing Buy a 6 part television series about buying boats.   A television programme A Disaster Waiting to Happen Rowles started directing in 2012 with Boris Johnson’s wish for an airport on an island in the Thames seven miles from the Liberty ship SS Richard Montgomery with a deadly cargo of 1400 tons of munitions. Rowles and his cameraman Graham Fowler filmed the Montgomery’s sister ship Jeremiah O’Brian in San Francisco and in 2017 the film was offered for to the BBC.  To date the film has not been commissioned and is on the shelf.  In 2019 Rowles, Steve Marians and cameraman Graham Fowler filmed Memories of James Herriot returning to the museum The World of James Herriot.    In 2021 Rowles opened the Swale Media Arts Centre CIC with Art gallery, museum, and small studio that is been used for British Entertainment History Project interviews.