Sunday 26 April 2015

Remembering Sid

Today marks 39 years since the death of comedy legend Sidney James. It seems unbelievable to me that almost forty years has passed since that sad day. I wasn't even born when Sid left us, but his presence still feels real and constant.

A lot of that feeling we can put down to how often we still enjoy him on television, radio and of course, on film. His incredible work ethic and output of quality work from the late 1940s right up until 1976 has helped a great deal to keep his memory alive. And rightly so.

Sid was a gifted comic actor. A lot of what he did on screen seemed so effortless and easy but achieving that kind of performance, charisma and comic timing was incredibly hard work. The fact he made it look easy just shows what a tremendously gifted actor he was. 

A lot of people today only know Sid for his nineteen starring roles in the Carry On films. Quite a legacy on its own. He was the linch pin of the series, holding everything together with a reassuring presence, turning in assured, confident performances again and again. He started off as the straight figure of authority for the likes of Williams and Connor to bumble around. He progressed to ladies man, a bit of a chancer always chasing characters played by Joan Sims or Barbara Windsor. Later on he brought in more of his family man image and that suited him well for that's what he was.

I loved all Sid's roles in the Carry Ons but he was at his best when partnered on screen with my comedy heroines Hattie Jacques and Joan Sims. It felt right and very believable when Sid and Hattie faced marital strife in Carry On Cabby or squabbled over their budgie in Convenience. Sid and Joan had an irresistible chemistry in so many of the films, sharing laughter that went way beyond performance. They are moments for us all to treasure.

Away from the Carry Ons, Sid starred in countless other brilliant British films from Ealing classics to knock about farces in the early 60s. He popped up in cameo roles up to ten times a year in his prime, quickly becoming an indispensable presence. He found great fame in radio and then television, as part of Tony Hancock's gang of comedy greats. He appeared in many television shows, nearly always as the star of the piece. 

From Citizen James with Liz Fraser and Taxi opposite Bill Owen and Ray Brooks to later successes in George and The Dragon with the formidable Peggy Mount, Two in Clover with Victor Spinetti and finally, Bless This House with the wonderful Diana Coupland. Sid was a constant draw on the small screen for decades. 

I don't want to dwell on the sad end to Sid's life. It, like so many other aspects of the Carry On actors' lives, has been raked over again and again. I want to remember all the happiness and joy he brought to us during his lifetime and has continued to do ever since. That cheeky expression, the twinkle in his eyes, his crinkly, unmistakable face and that laugh! The best laugh in the comedy world! 

So I'll be raising a glass to Sid tonight. A truly great comedy star, still shining bright. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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