Ralph Thomas, director of the long-running franchise of Doctor films, has died after an illness aged 85.

Along with seven Doctor titles, which initially starred Dirk Bogarde, Thomas directed such stars as Peter Finch and Katherine Hepburn in films such as No Love For Johnnie and The Iron Petticoat. His son Jeremy is a leading UK producer, while his daughter Jill runs an animation company.

Cutting his teeth on pre-WW2 "quota quickies", Thomas then worked as assistant to David Lean before teaming up with his regular producer, Betty Box, on 1950's The Clouded Yellow, starring Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons.

Working as part of the Rank Group stable, their fifth picture was Doctor In The House, made with Rank's roster of contract players for £109,000. Doctor became the first purely British picture to make a million pounds profit within two years.