Monday 24 August 2015

Sid's Sitcom Successes: George and the Dragon

The other week I began a short series of blogs looking at some of Sid James' many successful situation comedies. Sid became a star of the small screen thanks to his many years as Tony Hancock's right hand man. He branched out on his own in the early 1960s and never looked back. 

I have already reminisced about the classic 70s domestic comedy, Bless This House. Today though I am going back a little bit further, to 1966 to be exact. Do you remember that wonderful comedy series, George and The Dragon?

George and the Dragon ran for four wonderful series on ITV between 1966 and 1968. The basic premise of the show was quite simple. Sid played to type - the loveable rogue, always up to no good with a dodgy past to boot. His nemesis came in the formidable form of Peggy Mount, again playing to type as the gorgon who took no prisoners! Sid was George, the chauffeur and handyman to John Le Mesurier's rather posh Colonel Maynard (again playing to type). Peggy was Gabrielle Dragon, Maynard's housekeeper. She was employed after George had seen off sixteen previous housekeepers with his rather dubious behaviour! Making up the cast was Keith Marsh as the gardener.

The entire series was pretty much made up of George attempting to get away with murder and Gabrielle always catching him out or suspecting he was up to no good. George was normally trying to get rid of the Dragon in an attempt to bring in someone more to his tastes. Sid is very much the Sidney Balmoral James of the Hancock era here and that's absolutely fine, it's a role he plays to perfection. Peggy Mount is more than able for him though and gives Sid a serious run for his money. From the episodes I've seen Mount is most definitely the star of the show.

It is evident from watching the series that James and Mount got on. They were quoted in the press both during and after the series was made highlighting just how well they got on. Peggy found Sid very affable and easy to work with while Sid claimed that Peggy reminded him of his mother! I hope Ms Mount took that as a compliment!

After four series, Sid moved on to another successful project while Peggy Mount would go on to continue her successful stage career. Sadly, Sid suffered his first bout of ill health during the filming of George and The Dragon. During the filming of the second series in 1967, Sid suffered a heart attack which put him out of action for a time. This meant he missed Carry On Follow That Camel and was subsequently only able to film a supporting turn (mainly in bed) in the next Carry On in the series, Doctor, later that year. 

Thankfully, unlike many similar series from that golden era of British television, George and The Dragon survives in its entirety in the archives and has been released on DVD. Sadly it's yet another of those old black and white series we just don't see broadcast any more, either on terrestrial television or on one of those channels claiming to show classic series. 

You can relive episode one of George and the Dragon here:

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