Ralph Thomas

Veteran British director Ralph Thomas, whose credits include the Dirk Bogarde “Doctor” films, died Saturday of natural causes in a London hospital. He was 85.

Thomas, who began his film career as a clapper boy while still a student in 1932, became an assistant director in 1934 before leaving the industry to become a journalist. He returned to films in the late 1940s following World War II service in the British Army.

He worked with some of the biggest stars of the post-war British cinema — Trevor Howard, Jean Simmons, David Niven, Terry-Thomas and Richard Todd.

Thomas was perhaps best-known for his medical comedies — “Doctor in the House,” “Doctor at Sea,” “Doctor at Large,” “Doctor in Love,” “Doctor in Distress” and “Doctor in Trouble” — between 1953 and 1970.

Apart from Bogarde they starred, at various times, Kenneth More, Donald Sinden, Margaret Rutherford, Dora Bryan, James Robertson Justice, Lesle Phil Harrcombe and, on one occasion, a young Brigitte Bardot.

Towards the end of his career he was responsible for sex comedies such as “Percy and Percy’s Progress.”

His filmography lists 39 works from a directorial career that began in 1948 with “Once Upon a Dream” and closed in 1979 with “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”

Survivors include his son Jeremy, an independent producer whose credits include Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic “The Last Emperor.”

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