Actor

Sid James Best Film Carry On Don't Lose Your Head
Best Character The Rumpo Kid in Carry On Cowboy
Silliest name Gladstone Screwer in Carry On Again Doctor
Films 20 - Constable, Regardless, Cruising, Cabby, Cleo, Cowboy, Don't Lose Your Head, Doctor, Up The Khyber, Again Doctor, Camping, Up the Jungle, Loving, Henry, Convenience, Abroad, Matron, Girls, Dick, That's
Best Line "Yak, Yak, Yak" in all.


Sidney James entered the world of the Carry Ons in Carry On Constable in 1960 after being a well-known face in British films, a face which various critics had likened to an over-worked punch bag and an army assault course.  Sid, himself, compared it to a bed which had been slept in with the sheets left rumpled, and Sid has confessed previously, "This ugly mug of mine has gone a long way towards getting me where I am today".

His face is not the only part of the package, what is probably most associated with Sid is his gravely, cockney, filthy, lecherous YAK YAK YAK laugh, which kept him in the centre of the action through 19 Carry Ons.

sidandbabs.jpg (14303 bytes)For all Sid’s personal problems, betting, drinking and womanising, he was a professional through and through and was perhaps considered more of an actor than a true comedian as Sid could not work without a script.  Whilst they were performing Carry On London, a stage show based on the series, Jack Douglas, who has had vast experience on the stage, suddenly started to improvise.  Sid was left floundering, not knowing which way to turn and afterwards, Sid gave Jack a ‘right good rollicking.

The joy of Sid’s Carry On performances is whatever the role, be it a King, a Roman General, or a shop floor foreman, he always kept the familiar chuckling, womanising, street-wise persona, or as Frankie Howerd says in Up The Jungle "He’s as common as muck!"

Sid has done somewhat different roles in a couple of the Carry Ons, for example in Cowboy (his favourite of the whole series) he sports an American accent and is the villain of the piece.  In Dick, where he has two roles, he seems less at home as the quietly spoken Reverend Flasher than as the daring highwayman, Big Dick.  In Don’t Lose Your Head, his identity as the ‘doodling dandy-prat’ as Citizen Camembert calls him, is to Reverend Flasher what The Black Fingernail is to Big Dick.

As often as not, his roving eye, in real life as well as in the Carry Ons, lands on Barbara Windsor – (Henry, Girls, Abroad and Camping to name but a few) – although this was not always welcomed by her, even though they did have an on-going affair.  His screen flirtations with Barbara provided some of the best on-screen moments, perhaps the sexual chemistry from their personal life over-running on the screen.  But after Camping the censor became increasingly concerned that Sid was getting too old to chat up young girls on film for family audiences. 

Sid’s other work, most memorably Hancock’s Half Hour, playing a streetwise side-kick, that would not be amiss in his Carry On persona, ran for many years.  When the partnership finally broke up due to Tony’s continuing paranoia, Sid was heartbroken, "I don’t think Tony will be as funny without me", he said at the time. "I know I won’t be as funny without him".  Nevertheless Sid was successful with his own TV series, including Citizen James, Taxi and the still repeated Bless This House.  He went on to star in many successful stage productions, for example The Mating Season, in Australia, where he brokeSid James all box office records and was voted Best Actor by the critics. 

Born in Newcastle, Natal, South Africa in 8th May, 1913, he was introduced to show business as a small boy performing with his parents in a musical team.  He did not, however, take acting seriously till much later.  As a young man, Sid was a schemer and had little regard for his female companions, using them as his playthings.  When he got the daughter of a rich and influential businessman pregnant, he was bought a hair dressing shop by her father just to placate Sid so she could marry him.

He eventually split from his wife, and had to move abroad due to a contract put out on his life by his wife’s father.  He came to England and continued building his reputation as an actor with hard work and gained his first screen role as an East End band leader in the crime melodrama It Always Rains On Sunday.   A number of other character parts followed in the Lavender Hill Mob, A Kid For Two Farthings and Trapeze.  He was also making his way in stage musicals as a gangster in Kiss Me Kate and the lead in Guys and Dolls.

"The two best things that happened to me in my working career", he would often say, "were Tony Hancock and the Carry Ons", but the exact number of films he has appeared in, is in excess of 200.

Sid and JoanPopular and sociable, his hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-betting lifestyle took its toll.  In the mid sixties he suffered a massive heart attack and was forced to ease up.  He was in such poor health during the making of Carry On Doctor that he played all his scenes from his bed, but Gerald Thomas comments, "That was Sid and he carried on living in the way he wanted". 

When Barbara, at last finished their relationship, he said to her that he would be dead within a year, and he was.  At his last performance at the Sunderland Empire on April 26, 1976 (age 62) in Sunderland, Tyne-and-Wear, England, he collapsed on stage in front of the first-night audience and died on the way to hospital from a heart attack.

Amongst the warm and emotional tributes which poured in, Barbara Windsor summed up the feelings of many of the Carry On team (with perhaps the exception of Kenneth Williams – with whom he didn’t get on at all), ‘He was wonderful to work with, he was the Carry On films’.  Hattie said of him, "He belied his brash image and all the things he looked like.  In fact, he was a very kind man – yes and chivalrous.   That old-fashioned word really applied to him.  He cared for all his friends and they cared very much for him."

 

Filmography
 Chronologically (except Carry Ons)
Externally linked to IMDB

Bless This House
Bless This House (TV)
Tokoloshe
Two in Clover (TV)
George and the Dragon (TV)
Where the Bullets Fly
Big Job, The
Three Hats for Lisa
Beauty Jungle, The
Taxi! (TV)
Weekend with Lulu, A
What a Carve Up!
Double Bunk
Pure Hell of St. Trinian's, The
Raising the Wind
What a Whopper!
Citizen James (TV)
And the Same To You
Next to No Time
Watch Your Stern
Thirty-Nine Steps, The
Desert Mice
Idle on Parade
Make Mine a Million
Tommy the Toreador
Upstairs and Downstairs
Silent Enemy, The
Man Inside, The
Another Time, Another Place
I Was Monty's Double
Sheriff of Fractured Jaw, The
Too Many Crooks
Hell Drivers
King in New York, A
Pickup Alley
Quatermass II
Campbell's Kingdom
Smallest Show on Earth, The
Story of Esther Costello, The
Trapeze
Hancock's Half Hour (TV)
Dry Rot
Extra Day, The
Iron Petticoat, The
Ramsbottom Rides Again
Kid for Two Farthings, A
Glass Cage, The

It's a Great Day
Joe MacBeth
John and Julie
Out of the Clouds
Yank in Ermine, A
Aunt Clara
Belles of St. Trinian's, The
Father Brown
Crest of the Wave
Crowded Day, The
For Better, for Worse
House Across the Lake, The
Orders Are Orders
Rainbow Jacket, The
Will Any Gentleman?
Escape by Night
Flanagan Boy, The
Square Ring, The
Tall Headlines, The
Titfield Thunderbolt, The
Weak and the Wicked, The
Yellow Balloon, The
Cosh Boy
Emergency Call
Father's Doing Fine
Gift Horse, The
I Believe in You
Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary?
Miss Robin Hood
Time Gentlemen Please!
Venetian Bird
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Galloping Major, The
Lavender Hill Mob, The
Magic Box, The
Talk of a Million
Lady Craved Excitement, The
Last Holiday
Small Back Room, The
Give Us This Day
Man in Black, The
Paper Orchid
It Always Rains on Sunday
Night Beat
Once a Jolly Swagman
Black Memory

 


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