Funeral remembers Lemsford’s star film director
- Credit: Archant
The funeral of a film and television director whose illustrious career involved many of the most famous names in the industry was held at his village church just before Christmas.
Walter “Jeremy” Summers, who died at his home in Cromer Hyde, Lemsford on December 14 at 85, had directed Sir Roger Moore, Dame Barbara Windsor, Tony Hancock, and many other star names.
He was always known as Jeremy to avoid confusion with his father Walter, also a successful film director.
As his father worked for a time in Welwyn Film Studios, Jeremy was brought up partly in Welwyn Garden City, living in Parkway.
Jeremy concealed his parentage from early colleagues as Walter (senior) was notoriously unreliable, although his The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927) is now considered a silent classic.
Starting as a runner at Elstree Studios, Jeremy progressed to assistant director, working with Gregory Peck on Moby Dick (1956) after The Dambusters (1955), starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.
He owed his first lead director role to the comic genius Tony Hancock, who in 1962 was making his second film, The Punch and Judy Man.
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Jeremy’s son Julian told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “Tony Hancock was a big star at that time because of Hancock’s Half Hour. Hancock was looking for a young director, and he chose Jeremy, who was only 31.”
Jeremy progressed to directing Barbara Windsor in Crooks in Cloistures (1964) before making Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965), with the pop group Gerry and the Pacemakers.
He then turned to television, taking the reins for the spy mystery series The Saint.
Julian recalls: “Roger Moore was a frequent visitor to our house. He was a very nice man, and also rather glamorous.”
Jeremy’s later television work included Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), All Creatures Great and Small, Tenko, and the soap operas Coronation Street and Brookside.
After a period living in Ayot Green, he moved to Cromer Hyde with his wife Shirley in the early 1990s, but did not retire until 2001, when he was 71.
He was well known at St John’s Church, Lemsford, and very active in the village’s local history group.
Jeremy Summers, whose funeral was held at St John’s Church on Friday, December 23, is survived by his widow, four children, and 11 grandchildren.
His daughter Emma lives in Codicote, with her husband, the Welwyn Hatfield funeral director Justin Burgess.