50 min Colour
This rather better that normal documentary strips the veil away from the public and private Sid James. Voiced by Arthur Smith, the programme talks to friends, family, colleagues and even Sid's bookies to show the man behind the Yak Yak Yak. Using some great never before seen photographs, and rare cine footage from his Army days, as well as clips of films that show his acting skill in a different light, as a real revelation.
The programme follows Sid's life chronologically from living in South Africa, serving in the Army, coming over here on Christmas Day 1946 with his wife of the time (Meg) and his daughter (Reiner). We talk to the likes of his agent (Michael Medwin), people he worked with (Galton and Simpson, Joe Brown and Gerald Thomas etc), as it builds a picture of a gentle man - not without his faults, namely gambling and womanising and the occasional drink.
The real treat of the show is the clips of the interview with his wife Valerie, who paints a quite different picture of the man that we all thought we knew from previous documentaries, interviews and books; she knew him as a shy, gentleman who was essentially a family man; this was reinforced by Gerald Thomas who explains that he and his family spent a lot of time together, and he was great with his children.
The programme winds up naturally on Sid death at the Sunderland Empire 26th April 1976, talking to the people who were around him on that fateful performance.
One omission I find strange is his affair with Barbara Windsor; it is mentioned very briefly, but no interviews with her at all, perhaps they thought that had already been done in her book, but I think it leaves out a large part of who Sid was.
The last scene of this generally excellent and absorbing programme, is the unveiling of the famous blue Dead Comic's plaque on the front of his Gunsbury Avenue home, with all his friends, colleague (and hangers-on) celebrating the man and the legend.