Born in 1937 in West Cliff-on-Sea, England, screenwriter-turned-director Dick Clement cut his teeth on the small screen in his mid- to late twenties, as a BBC television writer and director, including such now-classic programs as the sitcom The Likely Lads (1964), the Dudley Moore and Peter Cook series Not Only...But Also (1965), and the brief Steptoe and Son successor Mr. Aitch (1967), starring Harry H. Corbett.
Clement segued into big-screen comedy in 1966, co-scripting (with Ian La Frenais) the Michael Winner-directed picture The Jokers. Issued in the U.K. in 1967 and stateside in 1968, the film received generally solid reviews. It stars Michael Crawford and Oliver Reed as a pair of nitwits who devise an insane scheme to lift the British crown jewels. The picture's success paved the way for one additional collaboration between Winner and Clement, 1969's Hannibal Brooks, also starring Oliver Reed. But that farce -- about a couple of POWs who abscond from WWII Italy with a pachyderm -- struck just about everyone as mediocre and marked the end of their collaborative relationship.