Meanwhile, in 1954, he began working with Tony Hancock in BBC radio’s Hancock’s Half Hour, playing a character with his own name (but having the invented middle name Balmoral), who was a petty criminal who would usually manage to con Hancock. When this was turned into a television series his part was greatly increased to the extent that some viewers considered it to be a double act. Sid James was soon getting as many laughs as his partner. In the final series, the show was renamed simply Hancock and James was not included in the cast. The show was one of the most popular comedy series in Britain on both television and radio.
James was born Solomon Joel Cohen on 8 May 1913 to Jewish parents in South Africa, later changing his name to Sidney Joel Cohen, and then Sidney James. His family lived on Hancock Street in Hillbrow, Gauteng, Johannesburg. Upon moving to England later in life, he claimed various previous occupations, including diamond cutter, dance tutor and boxer. In reality, he had trained and worked as a hairdresser.
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Sidney James's immediate neighbors in , are 22 individuals in 9 households.
By 1953 Sid was a highly bankable British star and was even attracting interest from America, MGM being the first to cast him in a US production 'Crest Of A Wave' starring Gene Kelly. Another film of note that Sid appeared in that year (in all, he made 10 movies in 1953) was 'Orders Are Orders', a British comedy which starred Peter Sellers, Eric Sykes and Tony Hancock. A wind of change was in the air for British comedy. The standard format for a radio light entertainment show was for it to feature the 'star name' or double act, accompanied by a number of upcoming comedians in small supporting roles, all partaking in a number of different sketches that were broken up by musical interludes. On 1st May 1953 an outline for a new type of comedy series landed on the desk of BBC's Head of Variety. Sid James' star was about to rise even higher...