RADIO: HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR

by PETER TATCHELL (copyright 2010) 

The years following World War 2 saw the emergence of a new generation of British comedians, many of whom had begun performing whilst in uniform. They included Frankie Howerd, Jimmy Edwards, (future Goons) Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine, Benny Hill, Eric Sykes, Dick Emery and Tony Hancock.

At the time, BBC Radio was the prime stepping stone to national (and later international) success. By the early 1950s Tony Hancock had appeared on over a dozen editions of the weekly Variety Bandbox, being regarded as something of a semi-regular when the programme concluded its (first) mammoth run in April 1951.

Within months Tony was signed to appear in two regular series running concurrently on the Light Programme. The first was Derek Roy’s short-lived Happy Go Lucky which may not have been a success, but it introduced Hancock to two men who would help shape his career and turn him into a household name … scriptwriters Alan Simpson and Ray Galton.

The other was the long-running Educating Archie, which saw Tony appear in the show’s second season as new tutor to Peter Brough’s dummy Archie Andrews. It was a giant boost to his career and within nine months he’d taken over from Ted Ray as co-host (with Charlie Chester) of the popular Calling All Forces and, by the end of the year, been invited to appear in the annual Royal Variety Performance.

Hancock then became resident comedian in the BBC variety series Forces All-Star Bill and its successor Star Bill. His material was being written exclusively by Simpson and Galton who, week by week, were crafting a well-defined character. By mid-1954, it was decided that the time was right for Tony Hancock to be given his own weekly series … a situation comedy to be called Hancock’s Half Hour.

The show was something of a departure for the B.B.C., requiring no music breaks in its running time (unlike Take It From Here, The Goon Show, Ray’s a Laugh and nearly every other BBC light entertainment offering at the time).  

Writers Simpson and Galton decided the show would revolve around a character named ‘Tony Hancock’ who would at times be acknowledged as starring in his own radio series (like The Jack Benny Program in America). Though in Hancock’s case his fortunes were variable, and the week’s plot might find him involved in all manner of pursuits.

Supporting Tony in the cast were Star Bill regular Moira Lister (like Benny’s ‘Mary Livingstone’ more a foil than a girlfriend), Australian comic Bill Kerr and a movie actor the writers had enjoyed in the recent heist comedy The Lavender Hill Mob … Sidney James. And to provide a range of character voices producer Dennis Main Wilson chose 28-year-old Kenneth Williams, who’d impressed him with his vocal dexterity while playing the Dauphin in a revival of Shaw’s Saint Joan.

Also regularly heard during the proceedings was writer Alan Simpson who during a break in the storyline, would chip in while Tony recalled some outlandish experience related to that week’s plot. And in one programme (when Williams was ill) Peter Sellers stepped in to provide the character voices, but unfortunately no trace of the broadcast survives.

The characters were still in embryo, but the sixteen-week run was deemed enough of a success to commission a follow-up series a short two months later. Owing to her pregnancy, Moira Lister was replaced by Andree Melly in the new season but just days before the first recording session, the producer suddenly faced a major problem … his star had disappeared.

At the time, Hancock was appearing with Jimmy Edwards in the West End revue The Talk of the Town and had become so frustrated by the repetition of the same material night after night he suddenly deserted the show (mid performance) and jetted off to Rome. When he wasn’t back by the start of the radio series, Harry Secombe was hastily brought in to replace him (appearing as ‘Harry Secombe’) a role he repeated in the two subsequent shows as well. Hancock returned by the fourth episode and things returned to normal (although he was forced to star in two series for commercial television a couple of years later to contractually appease the revue’s promoter Jack Hylton).  

Despite the fracas, Hancock’s Half Hour was becoming increasingly popular and the team was signed for a further twenty programmes that October. (With three seasons, the BBC’s Transcription Service would now have enough episodes to compile a 23 show package for sale to overseas broadcasters).

It was a turbulent time for British entertainment with commercial television having commenced just four weeks earlier. Finally having some competition in the medium, the B.B.C. was forced to lift its game considerably and one of its first decisions was to produce a TV version of Hancock’s Half Hour.

Simpson and Galton thought a visual equivalent of the show would be better with a smaller cast and (possibly because of his solid film experience) chose Sid as Tony’s only regular support.

The show premiered in July 1956 for a six episode run (appearing Fridays at 9:30pm on a fortnightly basis ) and was well enough received for a second season to be scheduled a year later. Not everything ran smoothly, however, with the plot of the final programme (about a political crisis) being shelved in light of the emerging Suez situation. (A 2nd season radio script was hastily rewritten as a substitute, while the original may be read in the book 50 Years of Hancock’s Half Hour published in 2004). 

Unfortunately in those days before video tapes, none of the first season episodes was telerecorded (ie. filming a programme directly off a TV screen) and nothing survives of the series.

Meanwhile that October the radio version was back for a fourth season, with Andree Melly’s phlegmatic ‘girlfriend’ being replaced by the far more colourful ‘Grizelda Pugh’, a domineering antagonist portrayed by ex-ITMA and Educating Archie alumnus Hattie Jacques. The programme was now hitting its stride with Bill’s sidekick character assuming an increasingly less intelligent persona and Williams’ gormless ‘snide’ voice appearing on a fairly regular basis to provide ongoing irritation and the catchphrase “no, stop messing about”. The final episode even had James Robertson Justice on hand as a guest star. Happily, recordings exist of all the radio episodes from this season on (and fifty years later are commercially available on compact disc).

The programme was back on television the following April (for another fortnightly season, this time on Monday nights). Film commitments prevented Sid James from taking part in the first two editions, but both Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques were added to the cast. And for the first time, an episode was recorded (The Alpine Holiday) which survives for posterity.

Barely a few months later, BBC-TV began screening a new twelve episode season (now on a weekly basis) and whilst Tony and Sid were again the only regulars, several notable names also took part. Screen stars Anton Diffring, Jack Hawkins and John Gregson all made guest appearances (the latter in a special 43-minute Christmas edition) and Dick Emery can be seen in small character parts in three of the shows. Telerecordings were made of five of the programmes, to allow technicians to assess quality and repeat screenings to take place.

The regular radio cast returned in January 1958 for a fifth season and by now Hancock was urging the writers to make the plots more realistic and avoid the easy laughs from catchphrases. There was also a Christmas edition and the Transcription Service arranged for new recordings to be made of four episodes, their scripts having been adapted to make them suitable for issue to overseas listeners. (In all there were eventually 64 TS editions aired around the world).

1959 saw two new seasons of the television version, now regularly scheduled in a Friday night timeslot, with five editions of the fourth season being telerecorded (and the soundtracks of a further half-dozen preserved by fans on their reel-to-reel tape recorders). Trivia buffs should note that a young Rolf Harris appeared in bit parts in two of the programmes (nos. 2 and 5, which unfortunately only exist in sound).  

Hancock’s Half Hour was by now a firm favourite with millions of listeners and viewers throughout the British Isles and by the time of series 5 later in the year, the B.B.C. decided to record all ten episodes. This would not only allow for repeat screenings but enable packages of the show to be sold to television stations around the world. As a result the series would soon be seen by viewers in Australia, New Zealand and several other commonwealth countries, which had previously only heard the radio version of the show.

Though he would never achieve universal popularity (or success in the American market) as did Chaplin, Laurel, Sellers, Benny Hill or the Python team, from 1960 onwards Tony Hancock would gain a legion of devoted fans around the globe who could marvel at his visual talents as well as his performances in sound.

By the end of the 1950s, television had taken over as the prime home entertainment medium and it was decided that Hancock’s Half Hour would have one final (6th) season on radio. (Aside from diminishing audience figures, wireless budgets could no longer afford such popular stars as Tony Hancock and Sidney James). It was a good time to be a Hancock fan … as the decade ended both the radio and television versions were airing each week (the Light Programme on Tuesday nights and BBC-TV on Fridays).

Missing from the new season would be Hattie Jacques, who had become a mainstay of the Carry On films and was about to launch her long-running television series with Eric Sykes. Kenneth Williams was now a key player in Beyond Our Ken (where his funny voices were encouraged) and he decided to leave after the first two episodes.

In their place would be a gallery of (cheaper) character actors, including Fenella Fielding, Patricia Hayes, Hugh Morton, Wilfred Babbage and Warren Mitchell (who appeared in five editions). And the series would end with a guest appearance by noted impersonator Peter Goodwright.

Despite its enormous success, nobody at the time realized that the television version of the programme was also about to end, but for entirely different reasons. Tony and Sid were back on the small screen in March 1960 with another ten episode season, when Hancock advised Alan Simpson and Ray Galton he needed a change of direction.

He wanted his character to appeal to the international and American market, move more up market and avoid his famous colloquialisms (“Stone me”, “What a load of old codswallop” and the like). And he was worried that he and Sid had become a double act, and decided it was time for a parting of the ways. The writers could see his point and (at the time) agreed. Sid, though disappointed, bore no ill will (and, as compensation, was soon given his own sitcom Citizen James, written by Simpson and Galton).
(see the Laughterlog profile of Sid James solo television work in the PERFORMERS category)

Hancock’s first venture was for the big screen … a comedy (in colour) called The Rebel about a supremely untalented painter who heads to Paris to find the fame and fortune he craves. It enjoyed success with audiences who were familiar with Hancock’s Half Hour, but failed to be a hit with the Americans (where it was retitled Call Me Genius, to avoid confusion with a Steve McQueen TV western series).

But if the film was a disappointment, his next project was probably his greatest achievement. Back on the small screen, it was a series of six programmes that moved his character from an East Cheam hovel to a bedsitter in Earl’s Court. Gone were the homburg hat, the coat with the astrakhan collar and most of the familiar catchphrases. And because each episode ran twenty-five minutes (in the hope a commercial station overseas might want it) it was no longer Hancock’s Half Hour, just Hancock.

Hancock said he didn’t want a double act, so the writers gave him no support cast at all in the first programme … he’s alone in his new domicile, ruminating on his existence. Other programmes had him as a ham radio operator, a ham actor in a radio serial, a portly gentleman who causes a lift to jam and as someone who wants to make sure his blood donation goes to a good home.

Whether you’d use the word ‘masterpiece’ or just ‘classic’, the series was a triumph. For years it was said Hancock was never as good without Sid, but in the same breath his best work was judged to have mentioned armfuls of blood or what the weather was like in Tokyo.

Unfortunately his most famous performance saw the start of his decline. Just days before performing The Blood Donor, Hancock was involved in a car accident and though not seriously hurt, he was unable to learn his lines (a process he’d always regarded with supreme dread). With the recording imminent, the B.B.C. allowed him to read most of his part from a teleprompter (which is quite evident when watching the dvd) but at the time it wasn’t apparent to viewers. He consequently embraced the process in most of his future work, which was detrimental to his performance. The accident also apparently led to a marked increase in his drinking with disastrous results.               

His career went on a downhill spiral – unable to agree on a new film script he parted ways with his longtime writers Alan Simpson and Ray Galton (who quickly moved on to create Steptoe And Son). None of their replacements were able to capture the essence of his greatness, and Hancock’s increasing alcoholism blunted the magic of his performance and hastened the decline of his great talent.

He made several other series and appeared in more movies, but a mere seven years (almost to the day) after his greatest success Tony Hancock was dead … a suicide at the age of only 44.

 

RADIO VERSION 

Series 1: BBC Light Programme November 2 1954 to February 15 1955
with Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sidney James, Moira Lister, Kenneth Williams
1  November 2 1954           The First Night Party (TS1)
2  November 9 1954           The Diamond Ring
3  November 16 1954         The Idol (TS2)
4  November 23 1954         The Boxing Champion (TS3)
5  November 30 1954         The Hancock Festival
6  December 7 1954            The New Car (TS4)
7  December 14 1954         The Department Store Santa
8  December 21 1954         Christmas at Aldershot
9  December 28 1954         The Christmas Party
10  January 4 1955             Cinderella Hancock (with Dora Bryan) (TS5)
11  January 11 1955           A Trip to France (TS6)
12  January 18 1955           The Monte Carlo Rally (TS7)
13  January 25 1955           A House on the Cliff (TS8)
14  February 1 1955           The Sheikh (TS9)
15  February 8 1955           The Marriage Bureau (with Peter Sellers)
16  February 15 1955         The End of the Series (TS10)
the 10 episodes issued by the Transcription Service are all that survive

Series 2: BBC Light Programme April 19 to July 5 1955
with Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sidney James, Andree Melly, Kenneth Williams
1  April 19 1955                   A Holiday in France (with Harry Secombe)
2 April 26 1955                    The Crown Jewels (with Harry Secombe)
3  May 3 1955                     The Racehorse (with Harry Secombe)
4  May 10 1955                   A Visit to Swansea (with Harry Secombe)
5 May 17 1955                    The Holiday Camp (TS12)
6  May 24 1955                   The Chef That Died of Shame (TS13)
7  May 31 1955                   Prime Minister Hancock
8  June 7 1955                      The Rail Strike (TS14)
9  June 14 1955                   The Television Set (TS15)
10  June 21 1955                 The Three Sons
11  June 28 1955                 The Marrow Contest (TS16)
12  July 5 1955                    The Matador
the 5 episodes issued by the Transcription Service are all that survive

Series 3: BBC Light Programme October 19 1955 to February 29 1956
with Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sidney James, Andree Melly, Kenneth Williams
1  October 19 1955             The Pet Dog (TS11)
2  October 26 1955             The Jewel Robbery (TS18)
3  November 2 1955           The Bequest (TS17)
4  November 9 1955           The New Neighbour
5  November 16 1955         The Winter Holiday
6  November 23 1955         The Blackboard Jungle
7  November 30 1955         The Red Planet
8  December 7 1955            The Diet
9  December 14 1955         A Visit to Russia
10  December 21 1955       The Trial of Father Christmas
11  December 28 1955       Cinderella Hancock (remake, with Dora Bryan)
12  January 4 1956             The New Year’s Resolutions
13  January 11 1956           Hancock’s Hair (TS19)
14  January 18 1956           The Student Prince (TS20)
15  January 25 1956           The Breakfast Cereal
16  February 1 1956           How Hancock Won the War
17  February 8 1956           The Newspaper
18  February 15 1956         The Greyhound Track (TS21)
19  February 22 1956         The Conjurer (TS22)
20  February 29 1956         The Test Match (with John Arlott, Godfrey Evans, Colin Cowdrey and Frank Tyson (TS23)
the 8 episodes issued by the Transcription Service survive, along with amateur off-air recordings of episodes 6,  8, 16 and a segment from show 12

Series 4: BBC Light Programme October 14 1956 to February 24 1957
with Tony Hancock, Sidney James, Bill Kerr, Hattie Jacques (from ep 5), Kenneth Williams
1  October 14 1956             Back From Holiday (TS65)
2  October 21 1956             The Bolshoi Ballet
3  October 28 1956             Sid James’s Dad
4  November 4 1956           The Income Tax Demand (TS66)
5  November 11 1956         The New Secretary
6  November 18 1956         Michelangelo Hancock (TS67)
7  November 25 1956         Anna and the King of Siam
8  December 2 1956            Cyrano de Hancock (TS68)
9  December 9 1956            The Stolen Petrol
10  December 16 1956       The Expresso Bar (TS25)
11  December 23 1956       Hancock’s Happy Christmas (TS73)
12  December 30 1956       The Diary (TS26)
13  January 6 1957             The 13th of the Series
14  January 13 1957           Almost a Gentleman (TS27)
15  January 20 1957           The Old School Reunion (TS69)
16  January 27 1957           The Wild Man of the Woods (TS28)
17  February 3 1957           Agricultural ‘Ancock (TS29)
18  February 10 1957         Hancock in the Police (TS70)
19  February 17 1957         The Emigrant
20  February 24 1957         The Last of the McHancocks (with James Robertson Justice) (TS30)
all 20 episodes survive, though several are taken from amateur off-air recordings

Series 5: BBC Light Programme January 21 to June 3 1958
with Tony Hancock, Sidney James, Bill Kerr, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams
1  January 21 1958             The New Radio Series (TS24)
2  January 28 1958             The Scandal Magazine (TS71)
3  February 4 1958              The Male Suffragettes (TS31)
4  February 11 1958           The Insurance Policy (TS32)
5  February 18 1958           The Publicity Photograph (TS33)
6  February 25 1958           The Unexploded Bomb (TS34)
7  March 4 1958                  Hancock’s School (TS35)
8  March 11 1958                Around the World in 80 Days
9  March 18 1958                The Americans Hit Town (TS36)
10  March 25 1958             The Election Candidate
11  April 1 1958                   Hancock’s Car (TS37)
12  April 8 1958                  The East Cheam Drama Festival (TS38)
13  April 15 1958               The Foreign Legion (TS72)
14  April 22 1958               Sunday Afternoon at Home (TS42)
15  April 29 1958               The Grappling Game (TS39)
16  May 6 1958                   The Junk Man (TS40)
17  May 13 1958                 Hancock’s War (TS41)
18  May 20 1958                 The Prize Money (TS43)
19  May 27 1958                 The Threatening Letters (TS48)
20  June 3 1958                   The Sleepless Night (TS49)
all 20 episodes survive

*** WELCOME TO LONDON: BBC Light Programme August 3 1958 (90 min)
features a short segment with the Tony, Sid and Bill
an amateur off-air recording survives

*** BBC Light Programme
December 25 1958              Bill and Father Christmas (TS50)
a recording survives

Transcription Service remakes: BBC Light Programme
1  January 4 1959               The 13th of the Month (TS44)          
2  January 11 1959             The New Secretary (TS45)
3  January 18 1959             The Ballet Visit (TS47)
4  January 25 1959             The Election Candidate (TS46)
all 4 episodes survive

Series 6: BBC Light Programme September 29 to December 29 1959
with Tony Hancock, Sidney James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams (first 2 episodes only)
1  September 29 1959        The Smugglers (TS51)
2  October 6 1959                The Childhood Sweetheart (TS52)
3  October 13 1959             The Last Bus Home (TS53)
4  October 20 1959             The Picnic (TS54)
5  October 27 1959             The Gournet (TS55)
6  November 3 1959           The Elopement (TS56)
7  November 10 1959         Fred’s Pie Stall (TS57)
8  November 17 1959         The Waxworks (TS58)
9  November 24 1959         Sid’s Mystery Tours (TS59)
10  December 1 1959         The Fete (TS60)
11  December 8 1959         The Poetry Society (TS61)
12  December 15 1959       Hancock in Hospital (TS62)
13  December 22 1959       The Christmas Club (TS64)
14  December 29 1959       The Impersonator (with Peter Goodwright) (TS63)
all 14 episodes survive

TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE reissue packages

In the early 1960s, 28 episodes from series 4 to 6 were edited slightly and offered as a “best of” package:
1          4/14
2          4/17
3          4/1
4          4/4
5          4/6
6          4/8
7          4/15
8          4/18
9          4/20
10        5/2
11        5/4
12        5/6
13        5/7
14        5/9
15        5/11
16        5/13
17        5/17
18        TS2
19        6/1
20        6/2
21        6/5
22        6/6
23        6/9
24        6/11
25        6/12
26        6/14
27        4/11
28        6/13

In the mid-1970s, 13 episodes from series 1 to 3 were edited slightly and repackaged as EARLY HANCOCK
1          1/3
2          1/5
3          1/11
4          1/13
5          2/8
6          2/9
7          2/11
8          3/3
9          3/2
10        3/13
11        3/14
12        3/18
13        3/19

 

Recordings

This Is Hancock
Pye LP 18045, Pye/Nixa LP PLP 1039, Pye/Golden Guinea LP GGL 0206
The Wild Man of the Woods
A Sunday Afternoon at Home

Pieces Of Hancock
Pye LP NPL 18054, Pye/Nixa LP PLP 1110, Pye/Golden Guinea LP  GGL 0245
The East Cheam Drama Festival (extract)
The Secret Life of Anthony Hancock (extract from The Diary)
The Publicity Photograph (extract)
The Threatening Letters (extract)
(includes links specially recorded by Hancock in mid-1960)

Little Pieces Of Hancock – Volume 1
Pye EP NEP 24146
The Secret Life of Anthony Hancock
The Threatening Letters

Little Pieces Of Hancock – Volume 2
Pye EP NEP 24161
The East Cheam Drama Festival

The Publicity Photograph
Pye EP NEP 24170

Wing Commander Hancock – Test Pilot/The Threatening Letter
Pye 45rpm single 7N 15575

Golden Hour Of Tony Hancock
Pye/Golden Hour compilation LP GH 577
The Wild Man of the Woods
Sunday Afternoon at Home
The Secret Life of Anthony Hancock
(includes some of Hancock’s linking dialogue from Pieces of Hancock)

A Tribute To Tony Hancock
Pye/World Records LP ST 897
The Blood Donor (extracts from the studio remake)
The Radio Ham (extracts from the studio remake)
Jack’s Return Home (extract from East Cheam Drama Festival)
The Wild Man of the Woods (extracts)

Unique Hancock
BBC LP REB 150M
Almost a Gentleman (extract)
Christmas – East Cheam Style (extract from Hancock’s Happy Christmas)
PC Hancock – Have Feet Will Travel (extract from Hancock in the Police)
Michael Hancockelo (extract from Michaelangelo Hancock)
The Doctor’s Dilemma (extract from The Insurance Policy)
Like a Dog’s Dinner (extract from The Grappling Game)
Is That Your Car Outside? (extract from Hancock’s Car)
With My Woggle I Thee Worship (extract from The Childhood Sweetheart)
The Hospital, or Hancock Revisited (extract from Hancock in Hospital)

Hancock’s Half Hour:
The Poetry Society/Sid’s Mystery Tours
BBC LP REB 394, CD ZBBC 1740CD

Hancock’s Half Hour:
The American’s Hit Town/The Unexploded Bomb
BBC LP REB 423, CD ZBBC 1739CD

Hancock’s Half Hour:
The Scandal Magazine/Last Of The McHancocks
BBC LP REB 451

Hancock’s Half Hour:
The Sleepless Night/Fred’s Pie Stall
BBC LP REB 485

Hancock’s Half Hour:
Hancock’s War/The Christmas Club
BBC LP REB 526

(the following releases marked * are without incidental music)

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 1
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1008*, ZBBC 1402
The Americans Hit Town
The Unexploded Bomb
The Poetry Society
Sid’s Mystery Tours

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 2
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1018*, ZBBC 1403
The Scandal Magazine
The Last of the McHancocks
The Sleepless Night
Fred’s Pie Stall

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 3
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1069*, ZBBC 1404
Hancock’s War
The Christmas Club
The Lift (TV soundtrack)
Twelve Angry Men (TV soundtrack)

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 4
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1122*, ZBBC 1405
The Diary
The Old School Reunion
Hancock in the Police
The East Cheam Drama Festival

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 5
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1128
Cyrano de Hancock
The Threatening Letters
Visiting Day (aka Hancock in Hospital)
The Impressionist

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 6
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1610
Almost a Gentleman
Sunday Afternoon at Home
The Childhood Sweetheart
The Elopement

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 7
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1729
Hancock’s Happy Christmas
The Emigrant
Hancock’s School
Hancock’s Car
  

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 8
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 1907
The Bequest
The Conjurer
The Publicity Photograph
The Grappling Game

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 9
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 2018
The 13th of the Series
The Wild Man of the Woods
The Junk Man
Bill and Father Christmas

Hancock’s Half Hour – Volume 10
B.B.C. double-cassette ZBBC 2196
Agricultural ‘Ancock
The New Secretary (TS remake)
The Insurance Policy
The Election Candidate (TS remake)

Hancock’s Happy Christmas
BBC double-cassette 0563 552581, 2CD 0563 53513X
Hancock’s Happy Christmas
The Christmas Club
Bill and Father Christmas
The Diary

Hancock – A Celebration 
BBC double-cassette

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Collector’s Edition – Series One
BBC 5CD 0563 47754 7
contains the 10 surviving episodes

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Collector’s Edition – Series Two
BBC 3CD 0563 47800 4
contains the 5 surviving episodes

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Collector’s Edition – Series Three
BBC 4CD 0563 47823 6
contains the 8 surviving episodes

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Collector’s Edition – Series Four
BBC 9CD 0563 52807 9
contains the 17 surviving episodes

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Collector’s Edition – Series Five
BBC 10CD 0563 52807 9
contains all 20 episodes

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Collector’s Edition – Series Six
BBC 10CD 0563 52921 0
contains all 14  episodes, plus
series 4 episode 9: The Stolen Petrol
the 1958 Christmas special: Bill and Father Christmas
the 4 TS remakes

Hancock’s Half Hour – The Very Best Episodes – 1
BBC 2CD 978 0563 50403 X
Sid’s Mystery Tours
The Wild Man of the Woods
Sunday Afternoon at Home
The Poetry Society

Hancock’s Half Hour – The Very Best Episodes – 2
BBC 2CD 978 0563 50408 0
The Conjurer
Cyrano de Hancock
The Diary
The Impersonator

Hancock’s Half Hour – The Very Best Episodes – 3
BBC 2CD 978 0563 50413 7
The Last of the McHancock’s
The East Cheam Drama Festival
Visiting Day (aka Hancock in Hospital)
The Threatening Letters

Hancock’s Half Hour – The ‘Lost’ Episodes
BBC 2CD 978 1 846 071614
The Blackboard Jungle
The New Secretary (original series 4 version)
plus Six Characters in Search of an Answer – Tony Hancock
and In Conversation With – Galton and Simpson

Hancock’s Half Hour – ‘Lost’ Episodes
BBC CD
Sid James’s Dad
The Diet
 

 

Books

HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR – RADIO SCRIPTS
by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (B.B.C. Books, 1987)
includes the scripts:
The Television Set
The Diary
The Old School Reunion
The Election Candidate
Sunday Afternoon at Home
The Picnic
The Poetry Society
Hancock in Hospital

SAGA MAGAZINE (December 2002)
has script of series 1 episode: Christmas at Aldershot

50 YEARS OF HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR
by Richard Webber (Century, 2004)
includes two unproduced scripts:
The Counterfeiter (radio)
The Diplomat (television)
 

 

TELEVISION VERSION

Series 1: BBC-TV fortnightly July 6 to September 14 1956
1  July 6 1956                       The First TV Show
2  July 20 1956                    The Artist
3  August 3 1956                 The Dancer
4  August 17 1956               The Bequest
5  August 31 1956               The Radio Show (with Eric Sykes)
6  September 14 1956        The Chef That Died of Shame
no known recordings

Series 2: BBC-TV fortnightly April 1 to June 10 1957
with Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques
(Sid James not in shows 1 and 2)  
1  April 1 1957                     The Alpine Holiday
2  April 15 1957                   Lady Chatterley’s Revenge
3  April 29 1957                   The Russian Prince
4  May 13 1957                   The New Neighbour
5  May 27 1957                   The Pianist
6  June 10 1957                   The Auction
show 1 survives, no known recordings of the others  

Series 3: BBC-TV September 30 to December 23 1957
(repeat aired Nov 18)
1  September 30 1957        The Continental Holiday (with Anton Diffring)
2  October 7 1957                The Great Detective
3  October 14 1957             The Amusement Arcade
4  October 21 1957             A Holiday in Scotland
5  October 28 1957             Air Steward Hancock, the Last of the Many
6  November  4 1957          The Regimental Reunion
7  November 11 1957         The Adopted Family
8  November 25 1957         The Elocution Teacher (with Jack Hawkins)
9  December 2 1957            The Lawyer: The Crown v James S, Hancock QC Defending
10  December 9 1957         How to Win Money and Influence People
11  December 16 1957       There’s an Airfield at the Bottom of My Garden
12  December 23 1957       Hancock’s 43 Minutes (with John  Gregson)
shows 5 and 9 to 12 survive, no known recordings of the others

Series 4: BBC-TV December 26 1958 to March 27 1959
(repeat aired on Feb 27)
1  December 26 1958         Ericson the Viking
2  January 2 1959               Underpaid, or, Grandad’s SOS
3  January 9 1959               The Set That Failed
4  January 16 1959             The New Nose
5  January 23 1959             The Flight of the Red Shadow
6  January 30 1959             The Horror Serial
7  February 6 1959              The Italian Maid
8  February 13 1959           Matrimony – Almost
9  February 20 1959           The Beauty Contest
10  March 6 1959                The Wrong Man
11  March 13 1959             The Oak Tree
12  March 20 1959             The Knighthood
13  March 27 1959             The Servants
shows 1, 3, 4, 11 and 13 survive, amateur soundtracks exist of shows 2, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10

Series 5: BBC-TV September 25 to November 27 1959
1  September 25 1959        The Economy Drive
2  October 2 1959                The Two Murderers
3  October 9 1959                Lord Byron Lived Here
4  October 16 1959             Twelve Angry Men
5  October 23 1959             The Train Journey
6  October 30 1959             The Cruise (with Hattie Jacques)
7  November 6 1959           The Big Night
8  November 13 1959         The Tycoon
9  November 20 1959         Spanish Interlude
10  November 27 1959      Football Pools
all 10 episodes survive

Series 6: BBC-TV March 4 to May 6 1960
1  March 4 1960               The Cold
2  March 11 1960            The Missing Page
3  March 18 1960            The Emigrant
4  March 251960            The Reunion Party
5  April 1  1960                Sid in Love
6  April 8 1960                 The Baby Sitters
7  April 15 1960              The Ladies’ Man
8  April 22 1960              The Photographer
9  April 29 1960              The East Cheam Centenary (with John Snagge)
10  May 6 1960                The Poison Pen Letters
all 10 episodes survive

 HANCOCK: BBC-TV May 26 to June 30 1961
1  May 26 1961                 The Bedsitter
2  June 2 1961                  The Bowmans
3  June 9 1961                  The Radio Ham
4  June 16 1961                The Lift
5  June 23 1961                The Blood Donor
6  June 30 1961                The Succession – Son and Heir
all 6 episodes survive

 

Audio Recordings

Hancock
Pye LP NPL 18068, Pye/Nixa LP PLP 1092,
Pye/Golden Guinea LP GGL 0270, Marble Arch LP MAL 872,
Hallmark LP HMA 228, Pulse CD PLS CD 219,
as The Classic Hancock PRT LP PYL 22, and as
A Golden Hour of Tony Hancock Knight/Castle CD KGH CD 115)
October 1 1961 studio remakes of:
The Blood Donor
The Radio Ham

Highlights From The Blood Donor
Pye EP 24175

Hancock’s Half Hour: The Lift/Twelve Angry Men
B.B.C. LP REB 260

It’s Hancock
Decca LP 4740, CD 984 315-9
(reissued as The World Of Tony Hancock LP PA 417, Decca/Eclipse CD 820895 2)
1965 studio remakes of
The Missing Page
The Reunion Party

Hancock
BBC 2CD 978 0563 49520 0
The Bedsitter
The Bowmans
The Blood Donor (TV soundtrack)
The Radio Ham (TV soundtrack)

Hancock
BBC 2CD 978 0563 50465 X
The Economy Drive
The Cold
The Emigrant
The Baby Sitters

Hancock
BBC 2CD 978 0563 52555 4
The Missing Page (TV soundtrack)
The Poison Pen Letters
Lord Byron Lived Here
Son and Heir

Hancock’s Half Hour – The ‘Lost” TV Episodes
BBC CD 978 1 4084 2682 1
amateur off-air soundtracks of:
The Flight of the Red Shadow
The Wrong Man
 

 

Videos

HANCOCK
BBC Video
The Blood Donor
The Missing Page
Twelve Angry Men

HANCOCK
BBC Video
The Lift
The Ladies’ Man
Lord Byron Lived Here

HANCOCK
BBC Video
The Bowmans
The Lawyer: The Crown v James
T

HANCOCK
BBC Video
The Radio Ham
The Economy Drive
The Cold

HANCOCK
BBC Video
The Bedsitter
The Reunion Party
The New Nose

HANCOCK
BBC Video
The Poison Pen Letters
The Emigrant
The Big Night
 

 

DVDs

HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR – volume 1
BBC DVD
The Alpine Holiday
Air Steward Hancock – The Last of the Many
The Lawyer: The Crown v Sidney James
Competitions: How to Win Money and Influence People
There’s an Airfield at the Bottom of my Garden
Hancock’s Forty-Three Minutes

HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR – volume 2
BBC DVD
Ericson the Viking
The Set That Failed
The New Nose
The Oak Tree
The Knighthood

HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR – volume 3
BBC 2DVD
all ten episodes from series 5

HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR – volume 4
BBC 2DVD
all ten episodes from series 6

THE VERY BEST OF HANCOCK
BBC DVD
The Bedsitter
The Bowmans
The Radio Ham
The Lift
The Blood Donor

THE TONY HANCOCK COLLECTION
BBC 8DVD set
includes the above 7 discs plus
Son and Heir (from HANCOCK)
Face to Face interview

 

Books

HANCOCK – FOUR SCRIPTS FOR TELEVISION
by Alan Simpson and Ray Galton (Andre Deutsch, 1961)
includes the television scripts:
Economy Drive
The Train Journey
Going Down (aka The Lift)
Mayday (aka The Radio Ham)

HANCOCK’S HALF HOUR
by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (Woburn Press, 1974)
includes the television scripts:
The Reunion Party
Hancock Alone (aka The Bedsitter)
The Bowmans
The Blood Donor

THE BEST OF HANCOCK
by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (Robson, 1986)
includes the television scripts:
The Two Murderers
Twelve Angry Men
The Big Night
The Cold
The Missing Page
The Poison Pen Letters
The Radio Ham
The Lift
The Blood Donor

 

Other Appearances by Tony Hancock

 

Radio

VARIETY BANDBOX
BBC Light Programme
Hancock appeared on the editions of:
January 9, March 27 and September 25 1949
January 1, March 19, May 28, August 27 and November 12 1950
January 7, January 21, February 11, March 11, April 1 and April 29 1951
a TS disc of the final appearance survives

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY
BBC Light Programme August 2 to September 20,
then FORTNIGHTLY October 1 to December 10 1950 (60 min)
with Derek Roy, Graham Stark, Peter Butterworth, Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr
no known recordings

EDUCATING ARCHIE
Series 2: BBC Light Programme August 3 1951 to January 25 1952
*** ARCHIE ANDREWS’ PARTY: BBC Light Wednesday 7-30pm December 26 1951
*** NATIONAL RADIO AWARDS: BBC March 2 1952 featured a short segment with the cast
with Peter Brough (and “Archie Andrews”), Julie Andrews, Max Bygraves, Hattie Jacques, Tony Hancock, Peter Madden
(scriptwriter: Eric Sykes)
episode 12 (October 19 1951) survives   

CALLING ALL FORCES (60 min)
Series 2: BBC Light Programme December 31 1951 to July 28 1952
(Feb 16 instead of Feb 11)
with Ted Ray (until Apr 7), Tony Hancock & Charlie Chester (from Apr 14)
(script: Bob Monkhouse & Denis Goodwin,
replaced by Ray Galton & Alan Simpson from June 23)
no known recordings

ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE
BBC Light Programme November 3 1952
recording survives

SING A SONG OF LONDON – THE GUY FAWKES SHOW
BBC Light Programme November 5 1952 (45 min)
with Tony Hancock, Joy Nichols, Max Bygraves

FORCES ALL STAR BILL
Series 1: BBC Light Programme August 4 to September 22 1952 (60 min)
(as ALL-STAR BILL): September 29 to December 22 1952 (60 min)
Series 2: BBC Light Programme FORTNIGHTLY January 6 to May 26 1953 (60 min)
with Tony Hancock, Graham Stark, Joan Heal (replaced by Geraldine McEwan from Mar 31)
no known recordings
                (continued as STAR-BILL)

STAR BILL
Series 1: BBC Light Programme June 7 to October 25 1953 (60 min)
with Tony Hancock (until Aug 2), Alfred Marks (from Aug 9), Graham Stark, Geraldine McEwan
Series 2: BBC Light Programme February 28 to May 2 1954 (60 min)
with Tony Hancock, Moira Lister, Graham Stark, Joan Turner
2 segments from 2/4 (March 21 1954) survive

THE LAUGHTERMAKERS – Tony Hancock
BBC Home Service July 20 1956

ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE
BBC Light Programme November 3 1958

‘ANCOCK’S ANTHOLOGY
BBC Home Service December 25 1964 (40 min)
hosted by Tony Hancock
recording survives

TRIBUTES

THE BEST OF HANCOCK – tribute to Tony Hancock
BBC R2 August 11 1968
hosted by Robin Boyle

TONY HANCOCK
Australian ABC (3LO Melbourne) January 14 1969 (45 min)

WHAT HAPPENED TO HANCOCK?
BBC R4 February 2 1971
hosted by Philip Oakes 

UNIQUE HANCOCK
BBC R4 December 23 1973 (45 min)

HEROES FOR A TIME – Tony Hancock
BBC R4 June 6 1978
hosted by Tony Bilbow

TONY HANCOCK
Australian ABC (3LO Melbourne) October 4 1980 (60 min)

BRIERS ON HANCOCK: AN ECHO OF REMEMBERED LAUGHTER
BBC R4 September 5 1984
hosted by Richard Briers

HANCOCK’S LAST HALF HOUR
BBC R3 June 21 1988
(drama) with Richard Briers

TURNS OF THE CENTURY – Tony Hancock
BBC R3 July 21 1995 (10 min)

HANCOCK’S OTHER HALF’S HOUR
BBC R2 September 21 1997 (60 min)
reminiscences by Freddie Hancock

HANCOCK AND SON
BBC R4 December 29 and 31 1998 (2 x 15 min)
hosted by Harry Thompson

H-H-H-HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANCOCK
BBC R2 May 11 1999 (60 min)
hosted by Andrew Sachs 

SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN ANSWER – Hancock
BBC R4  July 2 2002

HANCOCK’S HELPERS
BBC R4 November 2 2004
hosted by Russell Davies

HANCOCK’S WHOLE EVENING
BBC R2 November 2 2004 (3 hours)
hosted by Paul Merton and Denis Norden 

 

Television

THE TONY HANCOCK SHOW
Series 1: ITV (Associated-Rediffusion) April 27 to June 1 1956
Series 2: ITV (Associated-Rediffusion) fortnightly November 16 1956 to January 25 1957
telerecordings exist of the first series, nothing survives from the second season

HANCOCK
ITV (ATV) January 3 to March 28 1963
1  January 3 1963        The Assistant
2  January 10 1963      The Eye-Witness
3  January 17 1963      Shooting Star (with Denholm Elliott)
4  January 24 1963      The Girl (with Dennis Price)
5  January 31 1963      The Man on the Corner
6  February 7 1963      The Memory Test
7  February 14 1963    The Early Call
8  February 21 1963    The Craftsman
9  February 28 1963    The Night Out (with Derek Nimmo)
10  March 7 1963        The Politician
11  March 14 1963      The Reporter
12  March 21 1963      The Writer
13  March 281963       The Escort
recordings survive of all 13 episodes

THE BLACKPOOL SHOW
ITV (ABC-TV) June 19 to July 17 and July 31 1966
a recording survives of the final episode

HANCOCK AT THE ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
BBC2 October 15 1966 (50 min)
a recording survives

HANCOCK’S
ITV (ABC-TV) June 16 to June 30 , April 7 to 18 1967
all that survives is a brief off-air video recording of the end of one episode

THE TONY HANCOCK SPECIAL
HSV 7 (Melbourne) January 25 1972 (90 min)
a recording survives

TRIBUTES

OMNIBUS – HANCOCK: FROM EAST CHEAM TO EARL’S COURT
BBC1 April 26 1985 (75 min)

HANCOCK
BBC1 September 1 1991 (2 hours)
dramatisation starring Alfred Molina

HANCOCK’S WORLD
BBC2 June 27 1995 (50 min)

HEROES OF COMEDY – Tony Hancock
CH4 February 2 1998 (60 min)

THE UNKNOWN HANCOCK
BBC2 December 26 2005 (90 min)

THE CURSE OF COMEDYHancock and Joan
BBC4 March 26 2008 (90 min)
dramatisation starring Ken Stott

 

Films
 

Orders Are Orders (1954)

The Rebel (aka Call Me Genius) (1961)

The Punch And Judy Man (1962)

Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965)

The Wrong Box (1966) 

 

Recordings

Face to Face with John Freeman
Pye LP FTF 38500
includes the soundtrack of the BBCTV interview of February 7 1960

Hancock’s Tune / Spying Tonight (non-Hancock)
Pye 45rpm single 7N 15500
instrumental theme of the ATV series, with comments by Hancock

Hancock – A Comedy Genius
BBC double-cassette 0563 525401, 2CD 0563552545-2
Two tributes, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on November 2 2004:
Stone Me – What a Life (hosted by Denis Norden)
The Complete and Utter History of Hancock’s Half Hour (hosted by Paul Merton)
 

 

Books

THE REBEL
adapted from the film script by Alan Holmes (Mayfair paperback, 1961)

HANCOCK
by Freddie Hancock and David Nathan (William Kimber, 1969)

THE ENTERTAINERS – TONY HANCOCK
by Philip Oakes (Woburn Futura, 1975)

TONY HANCOCK ‘ARTISTE’
by Roger Wilmut (Eyre Methuen, 1978)

THE ILLUSTRATED HANCOCK
by Roger Wilmut (Macdonald/Queen Anne Press, 1986),

HANCOCK’S LAST STAND – THE SERIES THAT NEVER WAS
by Edward Joffe (The Book Guild, 1998)

WHEN THE WIND CHANGED – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF TONY HANCOCK
by Cliff Goodwin (Century, 1999)

TONY HANCOCK – THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY
by John Fisher (Harper/Collins, 2008)

  

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: