A Carry On star was turned down for a task enjoying himself in a movie primarily based on a prisoner of conflict escape plot – as a result of he was “too fats”.
Peter Butterworth auditioned for the half in 1950 traditional The Wood Horse, about how a gaggle of PoWs dug a tunnel out of the Stalag Luft III camp.
Nevertheless, the casting director stated he was not “convincingly heroic or athletic sufficient” for the position.
When Peter requested what the issue was, he was bluntly advised: “You’re too fats.”
He went on to star in 16 Carry On movies – greater than Hattie Jacques, Bernard Bresslaw and Barbara Windsor – after getting his large break although fellow PoW Tolly Rothwell, who wrote most of the scripts.
The actor’s PoW file, which incorporates his involvement in two escapes, has develop into one of many first to be digitised as a part of a mission undertaken by volunteers at The Nationwide Archives
Born in 1915 in Bramhall, Cheshire, Peter was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm lieutenant within the Second World Conflict.
Nevertheless, he spent a lot of the conflict as a captive of the Nazis after his airplane was shot down in the summertime of 1940 on an occupied Dutch island.
He managed a stomach touchdown however one colleague died and one other was injured, and Peter was discovered sitting on the airplane wing, shaken and smoking a cigarette.
He was taken beneath armed guard to his first PoW camp close to Frankfurt.
There he and daring fellow captives used soup spoons to dig an escape tunnel from beneath a mattress.
It took them six months however lastly 17 of them escaped by the tunnel.
Nevertheless, Peter was present in woods six weeks later by Hitler Youth, and ended up in Stalag Luft III, close to Sagan in Nazi-occupied Poland. There a gaggle of captives started constructing a tunnel beneath a gymnastics horse.
Peter helped by vaulting over the horse or standing subsequent to it to verify it didn’t fall over and reveal what was taking place beneath.
He later helped within the “Nice Escape” on the identical camp the next yr, by which 76 captives crawled by three tunnels from the camp.
By evening Peter would organise camp singalongs adopted by an particularly corny comedy act devised to impress sufficient boos to drown out the digging.
After the conflict, Butterworth – whose spouse was Janet Brown, famed for her impersonations of Margaret Thatcher – saved a photograph of the live performance get together line-up as inspiration when he began out on his performing profession.
Roger Kershaw, of the Nationwide Archives, stated: “One of many first gadgets we catalogued was for the movie actor Peter Butterworth, who would later develop into well-known for starring in quite a few movies, together with the Carry On sequence.
“Butterworth performed his half in serving to prisoners escape however when he later auditioned for an element within the 1950 movie The Wood Horse, the film-makers thought of him ‘unconvincingly heroic or athletic sufficient’.
“This assortment enhances different sequence of data held at The Nationwide Archives and helps paint a vivid image of what life was like as a prisoner of conflict.”
The actor, who died in 1979 aged 63, was additionally turned down for the 70s TV present Colditz, concerning the PoW camp that held probably the most prolific Allied escapers.
However as his profession took off he saved quiet about his heroics within the Nazi camps, and being one of many first to take to the air towards the Germans.
The gathering being put collectively by The Nationwide Archives contains an estimated 190,000 data of people captured in German-occupied territory.