Sam Kydd is probably best known now as “the actor who was in everything” or “the patron saint of Talking Pictures TV” – although in our house, he was always known as “Orlando” after the character he played in the 1960’s thriller series Crane and the childrens TV follow-up Orlando.

In the 1970’s, Sam Kydd published For You The War Is Over, a memoir of his time as a prisoner of war in Germany. Unfortunately, his publishers declined to pick up the sequel, which tells how – only a few months after being repatriated – Kydd talks his way onto the Ealing movie, The Captive Heart (1946) as a technical advisor with a speaking part, filming in Germany!

In some ways, it’s just as well that the book wasn’t published in the 1970’s. As Jonathan Kydd relates in the introduction, he found his father’s typescript in the loft, 33 years after his death. OCR technology failed to translate the faded pages so Kydd was forced to retype the manuscript. This allowed him to, “verify a lot of my father’s facts…cross reference all his diaries, financial records and letters…(adding) information from these sources which I found amusing…or told a more dramatic truth about an incident he’d glossed over.” The result is that this is only the first of four volumes – although packed with illuminating details.

It’s interesting to contrast this book with Who’s That Guy? Marcus James Heslop’s biography of Guy Standeven, the trained actor who accepted any non-speaking part as long as he could keep working on film sets. Sam Kydd, who started out as a dance band MC and impressionist, is forced to resist his mother’s aggressive offers to find him a proper job in a department store, embarking on a constant round of agent’s offices with, “indigestion, wet arm pits and tired feet but no work. My having to be constantly enthusiastic was exhausting.” After a season as stage manager and supporting actor at the newly re-opened theatre of Butlin’s Skegness Holiday Camp, Sam’s luck improves and he begins picking up work with BBC radio and the odd speaking parts in films such as Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and Passport to Pimlico (1949).

However, this isn’t just a list of engagements. Sam Kydd recalls a Britain still recovering from the effects of war (“I’d survived the war, with albeit five years of my life having disappeared into limbo; and a new set of teeth from where a German guard had smashed the others out with his rifle butt…on the positive side…my new gleaming dentures had got rid of the gap in my front teeth.”) and sleep-walking into the cold war. An encounter with a glamorous woman in a darkened cinema leads to a meal at the Dorchester and a fascinating thread in which former private Kydd is summoned to the War Office and shown his service file, being told: “We have detailed dossiers about most people we’re interested in.”

Quite apart from the general day-to-day detail of film-making, some of Sam Kydd’s memories may become invaluable as technological change robs us of the ability to remember how things used to work. His comments on telephone acting, for instance: “You obviously need to use 7 numbers as in WES 9150 or it’s not authentic. And don’t use 111 111 as it’s clear you’re not dialling a proper number. Having said that, when you have to dial 999 you dial 999! If you don’t there’ll be some Herbert who will write to you via your agent…telling you that you dialled 776.” (Twitter makes it so much easier to pull actors up on errors like this).

Sam Kydd: The Unpublished Memoirs volume one: Be A Good Boy Sam. Edited by Jonathan Kydd – ISBN 978-1-905912-79-7 Available for £17.99 via Renown Pictures