Rarely Seen Sid - Laughter and Life

Thanks to British Pathe and their vast archive of  fascinating newsreels and captivating documentaries, we are able to gain a unique insight into a British way of life that has, sadly, long ceased to exist.

In addition to the many newsreels for which they are most famous, the British Pathe collection contains a number of often fascinating documentaries designed to be screened before the main features in cinemas across the country. As the fifties were drawing to a close, Sid James was one of the most recognisable and indeed beloved figures in the British entertainment industry. His engaging, warm personality and relaxed, natural style made him the perfect choice to host some of these unique looks at British life.

Sid's earthy, worldly-wise vocals were used to wonderful effect on the narration for the Look at Life episode The Marketplace in 1959. You can view that little treasure on Sid's Place here Rarely Seen Sid - Look at Life: The Marketplace Sid's role on Look at Life was as narrator only. In 1961, he would be our on-screen host for a documentary on the power of laughter, appropriately entitled Laughter and Life.

Laughter and Life

Contrary to popular belief, clip shows are not a product of modern-day programme makers looking desperately to fill a gap in the schedules  Made while Sid was filming the knockabout gem What a Whopper alongside Adam Faith, Laughter and Life is an utterly fascinating documentary which sees Sid exploring the power of laughter, exemplified by clips featuring the likes of Geroge Formby, Charlie Drake and Will Hay. Sid also interviews the great Robertson 'Bunny' Hare, a comedy star who is sadly forgotten today.

With our host Sid looking as relaxed as ever, his trademark laugh at the ready, this really is a joy to watch. As soon as he utters the opening line "Hang on, I'm just rewriting a diabolical gag!" you know you are in for a treat.The fact that Laughter and Life was never actually screened anywhere makes it all the more fascinating to view today.

Part two includes some vintage Mack Sennett-produced slapstick and the police chase scene from The Lavender Hill Mob.


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