In Memoriam: Derek Allen



By now many of you will be aware that OVFM lost another member of its family last week when Derek Allen sadly passed away. A stalwart of the club for many years, Derek will be fondly remembered for his prolific film output and cheeky sense of humour.

His funeral will be on Monday July 22nd at Beckenham Crematorium at 12:45pm. Olive Allen has requested that instead of flowers, donations be made to Harris Hospice in memory of Derek. The funeral directors will be on hand to take donations or they can be posted.


DEREK ALLEN 1923-2013

Obituary by Reg Lancaster

All who knew him will share our sadness at the loss of our dear friend Derek Allen who passed away in his sleep recently. He was a valued member of OVFM.

Derek’s love of film started early. “We kids used to gather up scraps of 35mm film to roll up tight in paper,” he’d wink, “When you set it alight, it made great ‘stink bombs!”

Later he bought a Boots ciné camera, making holiday films and he joined OCS, our former name. Often working late, he couldn’t attend many meetings. He returned after buying a video camera and was surprised to discover that he was our first video member and was promptly asked to give a talk about how it worked.

His long friendship with Mike Turner began in the local National Trust Centre. They’d record outings and group holidays together, including little off-the-cuff comedies shot at these exotic locations. Mike then joined us and soon we three became friends.

He had recently stood down from several committees but when our Secretary Annabelle approached him about standing for Committee, he agreed and served for several years. Many strings to his bow became clear, such as having been a Flight Lieutenant in the Air Training Corps.

The subject of his recent film, My Friend Ralph was Ralph Reeder, founder of the famous Scout Gang Shows. Derek was involved for years, both behind the scenes and on stage too. At his Golden Wedding he made a touching, funny speech and later, sitting with old pals they went through the old comic songs, as we stood around applauding. The children loved it.

A member of the National Trust Centre’s fund-raising Committee, Derek produced shows at the Stag Theatre and memorably featured with Mike Turner and NT Chair Geoff Lewry in a hilarious drag version of “Sisters” the Beverley Sisters’ hit. He regularly made a perfect Stan Laurel, with well upholstered Geoff as Oliver Hardy. Like the originals, one look and you felt better.

As a boy Derek won an essay competition and loved writing. He came up with articles, ideas for films, letters and emails at the drop of a hat. The Committee decided to have a serious go at the North v South competition and next day his story idea dropped on our mat, well ahead of three others. I could see how his idea could be done and asked if I could photograph it, wrote a screenplay and we called ourselves The Geriatrics. We made four dramas and brought the elusive John Wright Trophy South three times. A keen Casablanca man (guilty, your Honour) he pursued video editing with relish, never failing to enter every club competition going. Derek was a talented, cheerful and delightful man who was a treasure to have in any organisation or club.

The sudden death of his father saw Derek take on the family business very young. He was dapper, good company and surprisingly energetic. He was still working right up till last autumn.

Earlier this year, he went into hospital for two months. It was typical of his attitude to life that the medical team were impressed by his spirit and forbearance in the way he faced his situation. Looking forward to his 90th birthday, he was sharp as a tack the last time I saw him, only 36 hours before the end.

Of his many talents, it was with children that you saw Derek at his best. They don’t fool easily and he tuned to their wavelength effortlessly. Derek had no knowledge of French but our Swiss grand daughter Roxane who has Down syndrome, took to him instantly and for them, over the years, communication was never a problem. His own large family circle adored him.

It was a pleasure to know Derek. Our sincere condolences go to his loving wife Olive, their children and grandchildren at this time. He will be greatly missed.



Please feel free to share your memories and thoughts about Derek on this page.

Thank you.

18 Replies to “In Memoriam: Derek Allen”

  1. I must confess that I didn’t get to know Derek too well but upon my joining the club I could immediately tell that he was one of the highly respected “fixtures” of the group, always seated by the wall in the front row on the right hand side of the club room.

    I suppose Derek’s most remarkably quality was his lust for adventure despite his advanced years. He once showed a film from a few years back where he did an abseil for charity – putting us young ‘uns to shame!!

    Even if he couldn’t attend a meeting Derek would somehow manage to get a film in to one of our project evenings or Top Ten competitions. He seemed to have something for every occasion in his vast catalogue of work – again putting many of us young ‘uns to shame!

    My condolences go to his family.

    R.I.P Derek.

  2. The famous Abseil also came to my mind – Derek must have been in his 80’s by then. Derek and Mike went everywhere to film for our Newsreels, with Tom Fagg they made N v S films, and always put entries into the Kent Festival. Chatted to him on the phone recently – about 45 mins. non stop and still full of interest in everything!

  3. Dear dear Derek, along with Mike Turner and Tom Fagg one of the stars of OVFM from the minute I joined! including of course Reg Lancaster (thankfully still with us!)
    But Derek so talented and unassuming a joy to know, we exchanged emails until recently although I have seldom been to the club since we moved to Saltdean.
    During that time I learned that he was part of Ralph Reader’s Gang Show. Derek was one of the ‘old school’ in the entertainment world. I just love them, Charles Chilton, Roy Hudd etc. My thoughts to family and friends.

  4. Too sad. I loved Derek. Made a few films with him and found him always ready and willing. He really was a gentle soul and a gentleman. I had intended to show him my Top Ten film he was interested in, but because of my family being with me, I missed it. He was cheerful to the last. I will always remember the National Trust garden parties in his beautiful garden where he dutifully stood, making money for the Trust. Thank you for being a friend. My heart goes out to his wife, Olive and his family. Rest in Peace.

  5. Allens of Lee, is how I remember him. His family ran a removal firm at Lee near Lewisham. I would see one of their removal vans outside their shop whilst I was travelling on the 94 bus with my mum on our way to Lewisham shopping. And then I joined the OVFM and discovered an inspiring gentleman that was not just a removal man but a clever video photographer with a lot of tales to tell especially with Ralph Reader and the gang shows.

    RIP Derek

  6. Not quite sure when I first meet Derek Allen; it could possibly have been 1962 or 1966. Both times I was broke, after moving to Catford then on to Bromley. Found his auction rooms near Hither Green station. Essentials were needed to set up new homes. Allen was a helpful gentleman even in those days. He did not look much different then, than when we met again at OVFM, I can’t remember how far back that was. Did enjoy the OVFM BBQ in his back garden, and thinking the BBQ was too near the wooden shed. He often inspired me to write articles about the old days. We could still hear the auctioneer in his voice. You don’t find many Gentlemen in his category these days. He leaves us with some very good memories.

  7. Oh dear! Another old friend gone.
    Despite his severe health problems the last time I saw Derek, about three weeks ago, he said to me before I left, “I hope I have a few more years yet”.
    Derek made the most of his nearly 90 years, fitting in so many activities and putting the rest of us to shame. He had to, with the death of his father, Derek became the firm’s auctioneer at the age of 16!
    He was one of the most prolific and imaginative film makers in our club and although not all of his films were without flaws he was busy on the next one by the time we had seen his earlier effort.
    I suppose I am the member of our club who has known Derek as a club member the longest, because he was already a member when I joined in 1965, but of course he did leave for a few years soon after, but we recognised each other immediately upon his return and became friends.
    As an amateur actor Derek should not be underrated, I found that he was immediately into any part he was given and as a person Derek was very kind and generous and, together with his lovely wife Olive, was always ready to made his house and garden available as a location for films. We shall all certainly miss him!
    Colin Jones

  8. It’s so sad to think that Derek will not be returning to his favourite seat on the front row at club meetings.
    When I was in the projectionist’s chair Derek would often share asides with me between films. He always demonstrated a real enthusiasm for film making and a genuine interest it what other club members were doing. I greatly treasure those little chats we had and will miss him.

  9. My first memory of Derek was when I joined the club. A couple of days later, he arrived at my door with a carrier bag full of about 8 VHS films, like the Anastasia Star and Green Room. He wanted to give me a flavour of what the club did, and having watched them all in one sitting, I wanted to be a part of the club!

    I have many stories of Derek’s fun whilst filming Blitz and Bananas, but possibly the least known was when we were filming a cutaway of him walking down the street, playing the part of an old man with a stick. He’d hobble the prescribed route, and then I asked him to go back to his starting position and do it again. he picked up his stick AND RAN back to his starting place.
    I’m not exaggerating for comic effect either – this little “old man” ran about 20 yards and then bent over like he was actually an old man, ready to do his take again! Anna and I couldn’t believe our eyes!

    Another of his jokes was “I knew I was getting old when I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs two at a time” and that was only a couple of years ago!

    I always had a joke with Derek that if he ever finds out he’s actually quite an old man, that’ll be the end!
    Who told him??? 🙂

    See you Derek!

  10. I didn’t know Derek as well as most others, but we did share a number of acquaintances from the ‘acting world’ and would often compare notes – realising that we knew the same people at roughly the same time. Derek had an amazing sense of fun not only in the movies he made, but also in the movies he acted in for other people. He was a ‘natural’, and made everything look easy when we all know, it isn’t.
    He was dynamic – and I might add, a brilliant auctioneer. Witty, friendly, a joy to be round.

    I guess he and Mike are chewing the fat again, working on their next heavenly movie. People like Derek are few and far between … it was a privilege – and a joy – to have known him.

    My condolences to Olive and the whole family.

  11. I knew Derek when I became involved with the Kent Film Festival and I was competition officer and we would hope and pray he would send his usual quota of films so our list of entries looked good.
    When he won a trophy at long last Derek must have been the most popular winner ever. He also served as a preliminary judge on a number of times.
    Kent will miss him, OVFM will miss him and Nellie and I shall miss him but most of all Olive and family will grieve for him.

  12. I am going to miss Derek a lot. An indomitable character and prolific film maker, always ready with a laugh and a quip. We made the first club video at his house – the Removal Job – way back in 1990 or something. The use of four or five different cameras gave us many shades of green. Dangling a giant spider down the walls of his kitchen didn’t faze him one bit. Perhaps he was used to it.
    I took a number of DVDs of latest club films and competitions for him to see in hospital and at home and he was so pleased to be able to keep up with our events. I’m sure he’s up there now filming something somewhere, with a little joke at the end.

  13. One of my abiding memories of Derek was the glint in his eye whenever anybody suggested playing games.
    We were fortunate enough to spend a few holidays in the company of Derek and Olive and, no matter how busy a day we’d had, we had to play a game after dinner.
    Whether it was Boggle, Pass the Bomb or any other word game Derek was always there at the end with yet one more suggestion.
    Night porters would be completely bemused by this group of Brits. doubled up with laughter round a table in the hotel lobby until near midnight.
    It wasn’t until some time later that we learnt that he and Olive challenged each other to a game of Scrabble almost every evening!
    He has left behind so many happy memories.
    Thank you Derek.

  14. We first met Derek when Roger was coaching Gymnastics at Bromley Valley and they were asked to appear in the National Trust’s show at the Stag Theatre which Derek was helping to organise.
    Over the years we have spent many happy hours with Derek and Olive at Orpington & Chislehurst National Trust meetings, events and holidays as well as at OVFM
    Derek was a prolific film maker and could be relied on to produce a film for the first round of the Top Ten and any other club competitions. It was very pleasing that at the “Oscar Night” in 2010 Derek won both the Ian Dunbar Cup and the Alice Howe Trophy.
    Derek was a true Gentleman,kind,considerate and caring. He had a real interest in people and anything that was happening locally. Whilst filming ” Blitz and Bananas” he could often be found with the youngest members of the cast chatting away and laughing. He was fun to be with.
    We will miss him and our thoughts are with Olive and family. We know how hard it has been for them since Derek was taken ill. Hopefully all the happy memories and films that Derek made will help Olive and family through these dark days.
    Derek lived his life to the full without hurting anyone.R.I.P Derek

  15. We miss Derek in the corner on club nights, always a gentleman and rarely without a smile and an interesting tale to tell. The front row is a lonely place without Derek and Mike.

  16. Thankyou everyone for your kind and lovely comments about Dad. I have just re-read them and had a good cry.

  17. On behalf of Maddieson’s holidays of Kent I was wondering whether anyone in Orpington film society remembers a Peter & David of Pioneer film productions from & based in Orpington in 70’s decade & as an amatuer super 8 film hobby company under trading name of Pioneer films of Orpington filmed documentaries on interests of the county of Kent including a production for Maddieson’s Holidays of Kent .
    If anyone knows of their film archives where they may be kept it will be appreciated as we would like to get some of their old super 8 films remastered to digital for the Maddison’s Holidays history website .

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