On June 24 1968, in Sydney Australia, Tony Hancock took an overdose that would take his life – Britain lost one of its most iconic and celebrated comedians.
For over a decade Hancock’s Half Hour had been one of the most enjoyed BBC comedy programmes ever produced, rivalling the popularity of The Goon Shows. Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (who would later pen Steptoe and Son), Hancock’s Half Hour became one of the few shows to migrate successfully from radio to television. Almost overnight Tony Hancock and his erstwhile sidekick (a pre Carry On) Sid James became two of the most recognisable entertainers of their generation.
In the shows, Tony Hancock was the epitomy of self-delusion. Eternally convinced that he was smarter than everyone else he would repeatedly suffer mishap after mishap to hilarious effect. Some of the best-loved portrayals were of course – The Blood Donor, The Radio Ham, The Cold, The East Cheam Repertory Company and The Cruise.
In due course fame and success took its strain on Tony and at the time of his death he was a shadow of his former self. Nevertheless his comedic legacy and that of Galton and Simpson remain in the form of the surviving radio and television shows.
And now, over fifty years since they were first performed and bringing back to life the comic genius is Iain Barton as he presents, with a full supporting cast, some of the best Galton and Simpson sketches of Hancock’s career. This 90 minute show illustrates beyond doubt that some comedy is simply timeless.
The Best of Tony Hancock will be appearing at Bridport Arts Centre on Friday 12 July, 8pm. Box office: 01308 424204.