George And The Dragon – 7 Must-Know Facts

April 23, 2020

It was Sid James’ first ITV success story

Starring as George Russell, the lecherous and cunning chauffeur and general dogsbody to the wealthy Colonel Maynard (John Le Mesurier), George And The Dragon paired Sid with the great Peggy Mount as the fire-breathing housekeeper Gabrielle Dragon. It was Sid’s first sitcom for ITV after his two BBC comedies, Taxi! and Citizen James. It wouldn’t however be his last.

GEORGE AND THE DRAGON

The show was a reunion for Sid James and Peggy Mount

Sid and Peggy had worked together before, on a 1956 film adaptation of Brian Rix’s West End farce, Dry Rot. Despite playing adversaries in the show, in real life the pair were close pals, with Sid once admitting that his co-star, despite being two years younger than him, reminded him of his mother. For her part, Mount would praise Sid for being a “unselfish and generous” actor. “Sid has one thing all good comedians have,” she went on. “He is loveable. Even if he is picking someone’s pocket you have the feeling that it is the right thing to do!”

It was written by powerhouse sitcom duo Vince Powell and Harry Driver

They’d enjoyed success with the Arthur Lowe-headlining Coronation Street spinoff Pardon The Expression in 1965, but George And The Dragon – commissioned after Pardon had been axed – would prove a significant step up for sitcom scribes Vince Powell and Harry Driver. George And The Dragon wouldn’t be the only sitcom the pair would write for Sid – after its cancellation, they would team up for the farm-set Two in Clover (1969–70) and the fondly-remembered Bless This House (1971-76).

BLESS THIS HOUSE

It was one of ITV’s most popular sitcoms of the time

George And The Dragon lasted an impressive four series and 26 episodes. It seems audiences took a real shine to Sid’s lovable rogue and Peggy Mount’s blustering battleaxe, not to mention John Le Mesurier’s dimly posh Colonel Maynard. In fact, it probably owed its success to the fact that all its stars played reliably to type. 

Director Shaun O’Riordan later went on to direct Sapphire & Steel

Shaun O’Riordan (1927-2018) made his name directing some of the biggest shows of the 1960s including Emergency Ward 10 and Softly Softly, as well as helming all 26 episodes of George And The Dragon. Proving how versatile he was, O’Riordan would go on to produce and direct ITV’s eerie sci-fi classic Sapphire & Steel. His last credit was on the Annette Badland-starring sitcom Troubles & Strife in 1985/6.

SAPPHIRE AND STEEL

It includes an early TV appearance from Tom Baker

Check out the Series 3 episode ‘The 10.15 Train’ to see a 33-years-young Tom Baker in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him part as an unnamed railway worker. He may only be on screen for 23 seconds, but it’s still a scene-stealing turn from the future Doctor Who.

Sid suffered his first heart attack while on the series

It was on 13 May 1967, while working on the series at Thames TV’s Borehamwood studios, that Sid complained of chest pains. With his doctor ordering him to go straight to the hospital for a cardiograph, Sid refused, telling wife Valerie he’d go, only “after we’ve recorded the show”. It turned out Sid was having a massive heart attack and he spent the next three weeks in an oxygen tent. He eventually returned to work on George And The Dragon in October 1967, to cheers and applause from the studio audience. 

GEORGE AND THE DRAGON

Steve O’Brien

Order George and the Dragon: The Complete Series

Use the discount code NETWORKBLOGGEORGE to receive 10% off George and the Dragon: The Complete Series (DVD) until 4pm, Thursday 30th April.



Comments:6

  1. Philip England Reply
    20/04/23

    How are there colour photos for this? I would have thought back then would be in black & white?

    Do you think a colourised version could be created like CBS did with I Love Lucy?

  2. Simon C Reply
    20/04/23

    The story regarding Sid’s heart attack in 1967 is slightly awry. Sid was admitted to hospital overnight on the 12th (or the small hours of the 13th) May that year – his overnight admission was in some papers on Saturday 13th. So it must have been no later than the 12th when he was suffering from chest pains. And if it did happen at a studio while working on George and the Dragon, it would have been ATV’s in Elstree, not Thames’s.

    That said, a further oddity is that the final George and the Dragon for that series was supposed to have been recorded on Monday 8th May, so exactly what was going on by the following weekend is something of a mystery. There’s no sign that an eighth edition was planned for series 2, the following week. I suppose another possibility perhaps is that Sid was working on something quite different for Thames at the end of the week.

  3. Mark Foster Reply
    20/04/24

    ATV Elstree Studios in Borehamwood was where GATD was made. Thames Television was based in Teddington in 1968 taking over from their predecessors ABC Weekend Television .

    • Michael Byford Reply
      20/04/25

      ABC was based in the Midlands and had the franchise when ATV had the weekend London franchise having broadcast in the Midlands during the week.. Associated Rediffusion had the London weekday franchise.. ABC was owned by the cinema chain.

      • Mark Foster Reply
        20/04/26

        That is correct, but ABC’s main studios as far as their major drama and comedy productions was based in Teddington from 1958. It was previously owned by the Hollywood film studio Warner Brothers and then taken over by ABC’s parent company Associated British Corporation. This article explains all. https://londonist.com/2015/11/goodnight-sweet-teddington-studios

  4. Kenneth Henderson Reply
    20/05/16

    To add more to Teddington Studios(I have a Teddington Street near me in Australia) is that it was hit by a flying bomb(V2 Rocket), probably Jan 1945. Not sure what was destroyed at this ramshackel studio complex but, tragically, US film historian Leonard Maltin noted in his erstwhile Film Fan Monthly(FFM) that Warner Bros ordered their vaults junked at the site. I was also told they were destroyed in the V2 attack. Regardless, I have at least one film made by Warners there, The Church Mouse(1934) directed by a one-time Gracie Fields’ hubby, Monty Banks, and starring US Laura La Plante & Ian Hunter. Not sure what else I am not sure but some Max Miller films are missing and the first Erroll Flynn appearance outside one in Australia(1933) and a musical around that time with the Dance Band Orch of Americn-born Carroll Gibbons. Elstree Studios is/was an ancient site for films and is actually in Boreham Wood where the post war MGM Studios was until around 1970 with a sell-off auction of fittings in early 1971. I was at Decca in Southwark at the time. All very interesting. I am a very busy collector of UK films, TV series and older music.

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