A RECORDING has come to light of the last interview with comedy legend Sid James, which took place in Bournemouth weeks before his death.

The star of Carry On and Hancock’s Half Hour spoke to a BBC reporter in March 1976 while appearing in The Mating Season at the Pavilion Theatre.

He died the following month after collapsing on stage in the same play at the Sunderland Empire.

In the recording, the 62-year-old star talks of fishing in Poole Harbour and doing skipping exercises in his Bournemouth hotel room.

The interview was on an unlabelled reel-to-reel tape kept by former BBC presenter Jeff Link in his loft.

He presented it to documentary producer Richard Latto.

Mr Latto told the Daily Echo: “When he sent it to me, I said ‘This is fantastic’. This was recorded weeks before he passed away.

“It has what I like to call the local radio cuddle factor. Sid James didn’t do many interviews, but a lot of interviews on shows like Parkinson and national TV and radio are very much PR jobs, whereas local radio interviews have got the local radio cuddly feel. You get to know a bit more about him as a real person.”

In the clips released so far, James is asked whether people are surprised to discover he is not a cockney.

“Yes, they’re surprised when they hear I’m a South African,” he said.

Asked about his hobbies, he speaks of his love of angling. “I used to get some marvellous fishing here, last time I was here,” he says.

“There was a fella in Poole Harbour, I wish I could remember his name. He knew where every single bass was.”

He says filming is his favourite work and that making the Carry On series was “a big giggle”.

Asked about keeping fit, he says: “I do skipping every morning. That’s right, in the hotel bedroom. It’s a little unpleasant for the bloke underneath me.”

When Mr Link says he would like to see that, the star retorts: “You wouldn’t you know. There isn’t a worse sight than me first thing in the morning.”

The star was born Solomon Joel Cohen in South Africa and moved to Britain after serving in the Second World War.

He became a star alongside Bournemouth-raised comedian Tony Hancock in Hancock’s Half Hour before making 19 Carry On films.

Elsewhere in the interview, he looks forward to making a seventh series of his ITV comedy Bless This House.

The full interview will be broadcast in a BBC local radio documentary, Carry On Up The Archive, at Christmas.