Rarely Seen Sid - Look at Life: The Market Place

Throughout the sixties, the Rank Organisation produced a series of short documentary films, which were made exclusively for screening in Odeon and Gaumont cinemas. Entitled Look at Life, these often fascinating ten-minute featurettes were shown just before the main feature film. Over 500 entries in the Look at Life series were made, covering subjects as diverse as motorcycles, hot air balloon rides, fishing, space exploration and the rise of the coffee bar.

The first batch of Look at Life documentaries was produced in 1959, at a time when a certain Mr Sidney James had become hot property. Thanks to the rip-roaring success of Hancock's Half Hour on both the radio and television, Sid was now a household name. Despite the slightly crooked personae of his Hancock character, Sid was adored by the British public. The ever-present twinkle in the eyes betrayed his love for life, while his delightfully warm, crinkled features and lusty laugh endeared him to both men and women.

Another great quality that Sid possessed was that marvellously earthy, whisky-drenched voice. Sid James sounded like a man who had lived life to the full, enjoyed the experience and then come back for more. When combined with the image of loveable scoundrel which had been bestowed upon him by virtue of his screen roles, that earthy voice made Sid the perfect choice to narrate a Look at Life episode focusing on London markets.

The Market Place is a fascinating glimpse into the culture and daily life of ordinary folk in Britain as the fifties were drawing to a close. Sid James does a marvellous job as narrator, his natural delivery perfectly encapsulating the friendly atmosphere of a typical London market in the fifties.



  1. Thank you very much for this interesting blog. History, nostalgia, and Sid. Just perfect :)

    1. Thanks so much for the kind comments, Martin. Glad you enjoyed it!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts