Saturday 18 July 2015

What if Sid hadn't Carried On?

Sidney James was a legend. He was also the linchpin of 19 Carry On films. Peter Rogers always stated that there was no star member of the Carry On cast, only the title "Carry On" was star billing. However, whenever Sid appeared in a Carry On, he normally got top billing in the cast list and played a major part.

So what would have happened if Rogers and Thomas had not recruited him for Carry On Constable in 1959? You can understand why they did. He had years of experience in British film by that point in time, having appeared in all sorts of roles from Quatermass to The Lavender Hill Mob. Sid rarely turned down work in the early years and while he may have appeared in some less successful films or taken small parts on occasion, his prolific list of credits ensured everyone knew his name and most certainly, that face!

Sid's involvement with Tony Hancock and the world of Galton and Simpson almost certainly got him the gig with the Carry On team. He was a natural for that kind of comedy series. Originally Ted Ray was the main choice for the role of Frank Wilkins in Carry On Constable, however he was unavailable. Ted had proved a success as the Headmaster in the previous film, Carry On Teacher, so it would have been a logical decision to bring him back to play another authority figure. 

Is it conceivable though, to Carry On fans today, that Ted Ray could have continued to lead the Carry On troupe? Sid is so closely linked to the series now that I just can't picture it for a second. It would also have been a very different series of films without Sid's face, his laugh, his cockney wide-boy character and his saucy antics with the likes of Joan Sims and Barbara Windsor. Would Ted Ray have taken all that on? I doubt it. 

I wonder who else would have been in the frame if neither Ted nor Sid had said yes. Or could the gang have continued with Kenneth Connor as a principle? As always, I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

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