The Siege of Sydney's Street

1964 | United Kingdom

The original Siege of Sydney Street was a moment of high drama which captured the imagination of the whole of England before the First World War. A notorious gunfight in London's East End on 2 January 1911 which was preceded by the Houndsditch Murders and ended with the deaths of two members of a supposedly politically motivated gang of burglars supposedly led by Peter Piatkow, a.k.a. "Peter the Painter", and sparked a major political row over the involvement of the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill. 

This Comedy Playhouse presentation has nothing whatsoever to do with any of the above! It doesn't even take place in a Sydney Street but in a street which boasts the dubious distinction of including among its residents one Sydney Lord (Roy Kinnear), a born leader of men and moulder of opinion. His source of livelihood is obscure but his mission in life is clear enough. It is to oppose Bureaucrattical Dictatorship (Sydney's spelling). Whenever authority seems to be lapsing into tyranny (and that is most of the time in Sydney's view) it can reckon on finding a flat-capped, fag-drooping, duffle-coated, bicycle-clipped, and all-knowing figure standing four square (or, to be more precise, roughly globular) in it's path: Sydney-who else? 

Also starring in this one-off presentation is Gordon Rollings and Arthur Mullard. The script is by Richard Harris and Dennis Spooner. The 30-minute episode did not lead to any further outings for Sydney but 28-year old Wigan born Kinnear did appear in his first full-series sitcom later the same year as Stanley Blake in A World of His Own.

Published on January 29th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.