Hancock's Half Hour

From Academic Kids

Hancock's Half Hour was a famous BBC radio comedy series of the 1950s starring Tony Hancock. Other regular cast members were Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr and Kenneth Williams. Moira Lister and Andrée Melly appeared in some early episodes. The scriptwriters were Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and the show's distinctive tuba-based theme tune was by Wally Stott. Some episodes were wiped; the rest have been released on CD box sets from 2000 to 2003. See below for details.

A television version appeared in 1956 under the same name and alternated with the radio version until 1959. The basic situation was similar, but only Sid James transferred from the radio series, although Kenneth Williams made a few guest appearances in early episodes. The final series in 1961 was retitled Hancock because it was shortened to 25 minutes, and did not feature Sid James. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, Hancock's Half Hour was placed 24th.

During 1956-1957 Hancock also starred in a sketch show made by Associated-Rediffusion for ITV which, being live, alternated with his BBC appearances.

Contents

Radio series

Most radio episodes were recorded between one day and three weeks in advance, except in the case of Series 6 which was mostly recorded over a three-week period in June, 1959 to avoid clashing with Series 5 of the television show.

Series 1

Episodes 5, 7, 8, 9 and 15 no longer exist.

The loss of Episodes 5 and 15 is particularly unfortunate since they feature the only "Hancock" guest appearances by Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers respectively.

Series 2

  • 12 episodes, April 17 - July 2, 1955
  • Regular cast: Harry Secombe (Episodes 1 - 4), Tony Hancock (Episodes 4 - 12), Bill Kerr, Sid James, Andrée Melly, Kenneth Williams, Alan Simpson

Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10 and 12 (more than half the series, including all of Harry Secombe's guest appearances) no longer exist.

Shortly before the series was due to be recorded Hancock walked out on a theatre performance suffering from "nervous exhaustion" and flew to Rome. Harry Secombe was brought in at short notice to replace Hancock and starred in the first three episodes, and made a guest appearance in the fourth. Hancock himself returned for the fourth episode and completed the series as scheduled.

Series 3

  • 20 episodes, October 10, 1955 - February 29, 1956
  • Regular cast: Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Andrée Melly, Alan Simpson

Episodes 4 through 12, 15 and 16 - more than half the series - no longer exist.

Series 4

  • 20 episodes, October 14, 1956 - February 24, 1957
  • Regular cast: Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques (debut in Episode 5)

Episodes 3, 5 and 9 no longer exist.

Series 5

  • 20 episodes, January 1 - June 3, 1958
  • Regular cast: Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques

All episodes still exist.

Christmas Special

"Bill and Father Christmas"

This episode still exists.

Special remake series for BBC Transcription Services

  • 4 episodes, recorded November 23 - November 30, 1958
  • Regular cast: Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr, Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques

These episodes are remakes for overseas sales, rewritten to remove any topical or UK-specific references.

All episodes still exist.

Series 6

All episodes still exist.

Television Series

Series 1

No recordings exist.

Series 2

Episode 1 exists on a telerecording.

Series 3

Episodes 5, 9, 10, 11 and "Hancock's 43 Minutes" exist on telerecordings.

Series 4

Episodes 1, 3, 4, 11 and 12 exist on telerecordings.

Series 5

The entire series exists on telerecordings.

Series 6

The entire series exists on telerecordings.

Series 7

  • Shortened to 25 minutes per episode and retitled "Hancock"
  • 6 episodes, pre-recorded on videotape, broadcast May 26 - June 30, 1961

The entire series exists on telerecordings.

Chronological listing of Hancock's radio and television broadcasts, 1954 - 1961

Information on series dates taken from the book Tony Hancock: Artiste (1978) by Roger Wilmut. Information on wiped radio episodes taken from the CD box sets (BBC Worldwide, 2000 - 2003).

External link

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