Sid James: Not Just a Dirty Laugh

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Marking the centenary of Sid James, comedian Lee Mack examines recently discovered archives and rare recordings offering a unique insight into the actors lesser known work on radio, stage and screen.

Actors Bernard Cribbins, Lance Percival and Liz Fraser reveal their own experiences of working with Sid and we hear from his daughter, the author, Reina James who provides the programme with previously unheard material from the family archives of her father's years in South Africa.

Throughout the programme Christopher Fairbank provides the voice of Sid for sketches found in the BBC's written archives and quotes excerpts from interviews given during his extraordinary life.

Born in Johannesburg in May 1913, Sid James arrived in Britain in 1946 and came to prominence as sidekick to ground breaking comedy actor Tony Hancock. He later became a household name as the star of the Carry On series of films


As Lee Mack discovers there's more skill to Sid James' performances than is often evident. He'd already made numerous screen appearances before Hancock and the Carry Ons with straight roles and comic support in films by Powell and Pressburger and Ealing Comedies. His early radio work includes parts alongside Peter Sellers and Dennis Price, on stage he performed in Guys and Dolls and starred in Citizen James his own television situation comedy scripted for him by Galton and Simpson.

Presenting a fascinating collection of extracts never before broadcast on radio this documentary puts the emphasis on the unfamiliar with interviewees adding another dimension to Sid's story by revealing his early career and assessing his copious talents.
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