1 9 5 6 – 1 9 6 0 (UK)
1 9 6 3 (UK)
63 x 25 minute episodes
At 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, Anthony Aloysius Hancock pondered and dreamed of rising above his humble origins with his sceptical sparring partner Sid (Sid James) whilst gloomily observing on life’s petty frustrations.
Tony Hancock made his stage debut in the RAF and touring gang shows. He moved into pantomimes, cabaret and radio, appearing in Educating Archie in 1951.
The radio series Hancock’s Half Hour began in 1954.
Hancock’s Half Hour then transferred from radio, where Hancock’s inimitable performance and inspired scripts had combined to produce absolutely classic comedy.
The bitter-sweet humour lay in acute observations of life’s petty frustrations and in Hancock’s bitter, paranoid rantings and pompous attempts to impress, which always fell flat as he unintentionally revealed his ignorance.
Sadly, all of the first series are now missing and no longer exist, as well as all but one episode of the second series and approximately half of each of the third and fourth series.
Classics such as The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham (“yes, I know it’s raining in Tokyo”) are amongst the most famous of Hancock’s comedy creations – both of them, in fact, dating from after 1960 when Hancock and Sid James parted company, and the series was renamed simply Hancock (with Sid James moving on to his own series, Citizen James).
Fish and chip shops across Britain complained to the BBC that they had no customers for 30 minutes every Friday night when the show aired. Hancock’s down-at-heel appearance and hang-dog features made him a lovable loser, and over ten million viewers tuned in.
After seven series with the BBC, Hancock followed a growing trend and went over to ITV.
The fact that he now read his words from cue cards rather than learning all his lines meant that the shows deteriorated badly.
Famous as much for his real-life alcoholism and depression as for his comedy, Hancock finally committed suicide on 25 June 1968 at the age of 44 in a hotel in Sydney, Australia.
Anthony Aloysius Hancock