A film director who worked his way up to direct classic British comedies has died at the age of 85.

Jeremy Summers, who died in December at the age of 85, was born in St Albans in 1931 to Dora, an actress, and Walter Summers, a film director and screenplay writer at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood.

Despite his background, Summers had to leave school at 16 to support his mother after his father returned from the Second World War a broken man.

Fortunately he was able to work his way up from the bottom when a job at the studios came up.

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His son Julian Summers said: “My father was tipped off by a lady working at the labour exchange in Borehamwood that a job as a runner at Elstree Studios was to be posted on the vacancies board.

"My father went to the studio gates next morning and was first there to secure the job of runner on Spring in Park Lane, a Herbert Wilcox post-war society film.”

Summers worked on other Wilcox films, such as Maytime in Mayfair and Derby Day, working his way up to become first assistant director.

As a junior, some of the tasks he was called upon to performed were unusual.

His son said: “He also worked at the old Gate Studios, next door to Elstree and Borehamwood train station.

“When he could see a steam engine coming in either direction, he had to signal to the film crew below in the studios and then they would stop filming until it had passed.

“Once he was asked to tell an engine driver in the goods yard to stop making so much noise.

"My father, still a teenager, went down to the tracks but was given short shrift by the engine driver.”

During his 40-year-career, Summers worked on the classics The Dam Busters and Moby Dick and later directed the legendary Tony Hancock film The Punch and Judy Man as well as films with Barbara Windsor and Ron Moody.

He worked on two screen musicals including Ferry Cross the Mersey and directed episodes of shows including The Saint, Danger Man, The Baron, Man in a Suitcase and Return of the Saint.

In the 1990s Summers directed episodes of Coronation Street and Brookside before his retirement at the age of 70. Summers also had interests in archaeology and gardening.

Elstree Studios historian Paul Welsh said: “I knew Jeremy in his last years. Jeremy carried on the family tradition.

"In the 1960s he directed Barbara Windsor and Bernard Cribbens in Crooks in Cloisters at Elstree so he was my natural choice to unveil a plaque honouring Barbara at the studio in 2008 - the first time they had met since the filming.”

Summers’, whose funeral was held at St John’s Church on December 23. He is survived by his wife Shirley, four children and 11 grandchildren.