Citizen James, 1960
A forgotten BBC comedy starring the late Sid James. With Hancock’s Half Hour behind him James strikes out in his own sitcom, Citizen James ran for three series and thirty two episodes between 1960 and 1962.
The first series was written by Galton and Simpson, who based the characters very much on the “Sidney Balmoral James” and “Bill Kerr, the dim-witted Australian” roles that they had played in Hancock’s Half Hour.
Changes were made for series two and three. Bill Kerr and Liz Fraser departed and with Galton and Simpson cocentrating on Steptoe and Son, writing duties were passed to; then Morecambe & Wise writers Sid Green and Dick Hills.
Despite the changes many feel that series two and three still had a recognisable ‘Hancock’ feel to them.
The first series is set around ‘Charlie’s Nosh Bar’, a cafe in Soho, and centres around Sid’s get-rich-quick schemes. He is helped by “Billy the Kerr” and quite often frustrated by the local bookmaker Albert Welshman. Liz Fraser plays Sid’s long-suffering girlfriend who has been waiting for seven years for Sid to set the date.
In series two the format changes a little. Bill Kerr and Liz Fraser have departed, however Sydney Tafler who had played Albert Welshman in series one stays on playing a new character Charlie Davenport.
Sid James’ character changes to become something of a people’s champion, campaigning for social justice.
The location switches from a Soho cafe to Sid and Charlie sharing a house.
Series One – Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Series Two and Three – Sid Green and Dick Hills
Original Transmission Dates: 24th November 1960 – 23rd November 1962
In The Archives
Like many BBC series of this time episodes were not retained past their sell-by date for overseas markets. Only eight episodes from the three series are known to still be in existence.