At 16 I’d been working for six months already, for a company which made instructional animated films for the army and air force. My job was tracing illustrations on a light box. I loved it but due to a misunderstanding when I was collecting film from a laboratory my services were no longer required. Then I was unemployed so I went to the swimming pool a lot.
The war was still going on when I was a teenager, which was absolutely terrible. I remember coming home one day and my mum had just found out that her brother, one of her favourite people, had been killed in Italy. He was a regular soldier who had been blown up when one of his platoon stood on a mine. But apart from that I was a very happy and carefree teenager. I had no responsibilities.
I had a wonderful relationship with my parents. I was an only child, terribly spoiled. I didn’t have to share, I didn’t have to wear my sister’s dresses. I used to laughingly say they only had one child because they reached perfection on their first try so they didn’t have to try again. But actually, I must have been a large baby who kicked a lot because after I was born my mother was advised not to carry another child… so she immediately dropped me on the floor.
I had never thought about acting but I did always enjoy clowning around. I was often chosen to read poetry and stories aloud in class. But my father was in the police, his job was to draw the accident scenes for court evidence. He worked mainly at home and if the sun was shining he would take me swimming instead of working. So if anyone ever asked me about my career plans I said I wanted to be a policeman like my father.
I always tell people, listen to others, weigh things up, take good advice
If I could talk to the 16-year-old Roger I’d say, be prepared to put up with criticism. Be prepared to be part of an industry where the vast majority are out of work. Save your money. Continue to smile. Be well mannered. And just love it.