London's Burning Wiki
Sidney Tate
Rank Station Officer
Station Blackwall Fire Station
Spouse(s) Nancy Tate
Relatives 1 son (deceased)
Played by James Marcus
First appearance Pilot (1986)
Last appearance Series 3, Episode 8 (1990)

Sidney Tate was Blue Watch’s original Station Officer at Blackwall Fire Station from the pilot movie until series 3.


Sidney Tate joined the Brigade in 1963. Forthright and old fashioned, he was regarded as a dinosaur by some officers, out of touch with the Brigade's modern image and values. When Blackwall received its first female firefighter in the form of Josie Ingham, he remarked to John Hallam that "In my day you joined the Brigade to get away from them". Due to his maturity and long service of more than 20 years in the Fire Brigade, he acted as a father figure to Blue Watch and was deeply respected by all the firefighters who served underneath him. As a leader, Tate was rather tolerant and laid-back, frequently allowing Blue Watch to carry out pranks and jokes on each other that relieved the stresses of their job. Despite this, he possessed a temper and was famous for bellowing the station down whenever someone went too far.

He was married to Nancy, who also worked for the London Fire Brigade, first as a control room operator, then as a Careers Officer. They had had a son, who died of leukaemia years earlier and Nancy was unable to have any more children. Over Christmas, he and Nancy took in Paul, a boy born with half-limbs. Vaseline gave his newborn son the middle name "Sidney" in Tate's honour.

When the new ADO, the pedantic jobsworth Scase, arrived at Blackwall, he did not approve of Tate's more pragmatic methods. When a group of men were trapped under scaffolding on the Thames, Tate defied Scase's orders to first secure the scaffolding, reasoning that by the time they had done so the tide would have come in and the men drowned. He branded Scase "inept" and "high and mighty" and Scase responded by reporting Tate for insubordination. Tate received a reprimand from ACO Bulstrode, though, as a fellow "dinosaur", Bulstrode privately sympathised with his point of view and it was Scase who was transferred away.

Following Scase's departure, Tate was promoted to temporary Station Commander. However, he missed Blue Watch and was relieved to learn that the posting would not be permanent.

After a shout in which Malcolm's girlfriend was killed because the pump was delayed by gearbox failure, Tate began to have panic attacks and doubts about the job, particularly after another shout in which Charisma was injured. These were exacerbated by a shout in which the dry risers in a tower block had been vandalised. He began drinking heavily. After a row with Nancy, he failed to turn up for work and Hallam was forced to report him as AWOL. Tate had instead driven to the Kent coast and spent the day staring into the horizon over the sea. He was given a week's leave and returned to Blackwall to a warm welcome from his watch. Shortly afterwards, he talked down an armed man who was holding everyone at the station hostage.

On a shout at a hospital, Tate experienced chest pain and, in Series 3, failed a routine medical due to a heart condition and was told that he would be taken off active duty with immediate effect. Bayleaf and Hallam urged him to appeal against the decision, but he realised the writing was on the wall and accepted the decision. In retirement he kept bees, according to ACO Bulstrode. Bulstrode had an old photograph in his office of him and Tate as young recruits back in the 1960s. He told Tate's successor Nick Georgiadis (whom Tate had met off-screen after he retired) that Tate was a "good man" and a "good officer". When Blue Watch tested out a fire helicopter, Sicknote and Bayleaf both joked about how Tate would have reacted to the idea of firefighters using helicopters. 

It was mentioned by ACO Bulstrode that Tate was a beekeeper in series 7 episode 15 at Lewisham for Bulstrode's retirement.


See also: Sidney Tate/Appearances

Sidney Tate made 23 appearances in London's Burning between 1986 and 1990.

Behind the Scenes[]

Station Officer Sidney Tate was played by James Marcus in the TV Movie (1986) and in series 1-3 of the television series.

Notable Quote[]


Blue Watch
STATION OFFICERS: Sidney TateNick GeorgiadisChris HammondJohn ColemanMick Callaghan
SUB OFFICERS: John HallamCarole Webb
LEADING FIREFIGHTERS: Malcolm CrossGeoff PearceDan Barratt
FIREFIGHTERS: Lesley 'Charisma' ApplebyKenny 'Rambo' BainesAdam BenjaminGregg Blake
Roland 'Vaseline' CartwrightSally FieldsGeorge GreenJosie InghamAndreas 'Ethnic' Lewis
Stuart 'Recall' MacKenzieCharlie MeadKevin MedhurstFrank MooneyJack MorganChris 'Skippy' Newman
Colin ParrishBert 'Sicknote' QuigleyBilly RaySally ReidCraig RossTony SandersonRob 'Hyper' Sharpe
Ronnie 'Hi Ho' SilverKate StevensJoe WalkerMike 'Bayleaf' Wilson
MISC: Lloyd AndersonVernon 'Clingfilm' ChiversMelissa ClarkeLiver SaltsCarmen MillerJaffa Parrish