When Tony Hancock decided to do away with the services of Sid James the BBC offered the actor a series of his own, written by Hancock's scriptwriters, Galton and Simpson. Within a few years, Hancock, his career in steady decline, took his own life -whilst Sid, the master of the dirty laugh, became the star of no less than 19 Carry On films and in the process walked into the hearts of an adoring British public.
The character of Sidney Balmoral James in Citizen James was set in the same mould as the growling, fast-talking, quick thinking Cockney gambler of the Hancock series, aided on this occasion by his girlfriend, Liz (Liz Fraser) and sidekick, Bill (Bill Kerr -another former Hancock regular). Although the character had somewhat dubious morals, as the series progressed he became less of a layabout and more of a champion for the underdog, until finally, by the third and final series (scripted by Dick Hills and Sid Green) Sid had a fully developed social conscience with which he championed many a good cause. With this change of character Sydney Tafler as Sid's new assistant, Charlie Davenport, replaced both Kerr and Fraser.
Published on December 4th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.