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Hancock's Last Stand: The Series That Never Was Hardcover – 30 Jun 1998

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Book Guild Publishing Ltd; 2nd edition edition (30 Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857763165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857763164
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Among the comedians who rose to fame on radi o and television in the 1950s and 1960s, Hancock was one of the finest. He is still held in affection 30 years after his death. But behind the public persona was a deeply insecure man, as Joffe reveals. '

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Caton on 25 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have to confess a bias. I grew up listening to and watching Hancock on TV. I still have the vinyl recordings of his radio shows. I will therefore read almost anything about him. However the nice thing about Hancock's Last Stand is that unlike so many books and television programmes that celebrate the greats of television's golden age, this one comes from someone who actually worked with him, and not just as a fellow performer, but as his producer/director.

Performers are generally poor judges of other performers, often their main interest is in self aggrandizement by associating themselves with a legend. On the other hand, directors and performers have a love-hate relationship. Directors see performers, and work with them, through their highs and their lows. This book is an example and summary of both.

In the sixties and seventies, and for many still today, Australia was a place performers went to when they'd crashed elsewhere - it was a last resort. For most it didn't work, and sadly for us all, for Tony Hancock it was no exception. In twelve months he slid from being the biggest name in British television to exile in what was then a largely unsophisticated creative wasteland.

While by no means a love letter to Hancock, this book takes us through the last desperate months of a comic genius who will perhaps never be equalled.

A `must read' for any serious Hancock fan.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Aug. 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the unique tale of the last months in the life of Britain's best loved tv performer, Tony Hancock, a comedian who was able to empty city streets on the nights when his programmes were being screened. The author, Edward Joffe, was the director and producer of Hancock's final series and, from this privileged position, he was able to observe, at close quarters, the torment and humour surrounding Hancock's flawed genius, a man he appropriately describes as 'a people's Pagliaccio." Hancock came to rely on alcohol and drugs to give him the Dutch courage to face the cameras. Unfortunately his addictions did nothing to improve his brilliant sense of comedic timing which was recognised and admired by his peers and public alike. Here was a man who had the populace falling about with laughter merely by looking straight into the camera lens. As a real life Edward Hyde however, Hancock turned on his friends, his writers and his women - with one exception - his mother to whom he was utterly devoted and regarded as his best friend. His drinking eventually alienated British tv producers who wanted to employ him but gave up when he was unable to live up to his astonishing ability to entrance every viewer in the British Isles and most English speaking Dominions. His numerous attempts to undergo 'cures' at aversion clinics proved dismal and expensive failures. The outcome was that a shrewd Australian entrepeneur seized the opportunity to sign him up for a filmed tv series to be produced Down Under. Joffe flew to Sydney to work with Hancock but spent a lot of time trying to keep him away from vodka bottles. Eventually a key member of the undermanned production team had to be assigned to Hancock as a minder.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie D TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Demonstrating a total lack of originality, I believe Tony Hancock is the funniest man who has lived in our times. I have listened again and again to his radio shows and watched his television series; I'd be happy to immerse myself only in Hancock for eternity if suddenly I could only have one comic to whisk away to a desert island. Gradually, this love of the man and his work - and, it must be said, of the work of the quite brilliant Galton and Simpson - led me into the territory of books written about Hancock. This is not essential ground for the Hancock lover - but it can be interesting. Does it add to my understanding of the work? Not really. I don't laugh more the more I come to appreciate Hancock's demons or his human failings. I suppose I read this stuff because I'd like Hancock to carry on even beyond the shows, I want his output to be endless, to accompany me through life with its attendant ups and downs despite the fact I was so young when he died that I have no recall whatsoever of any of his shows at the time they were first aired.

Maybe the propelling impetus behind the 'examining the life/genius of Hancock' industry could be his everyman qualities. And that extends to everywoman too. There is so much humanity in Hancock's performances, it seems to me, that it is impossible not to walk in his shoes and to share the highs and lows. In terms of the radio and TV shows, there is a naive innocence - a childlike being at the heart of Hancock with whom we can all, I reckon, identify. He may get fed up but in the end in order to carry on he must, as we all must, be optimistic.

The character and the man start to diverge here. In life, it would seem that Hancock's ability to remain optimistic ebbed away until here in Hancock's Last Stand we have the story of his end.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Chambers on 5 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the best things about this book on the late great Tony Hancock is that unlike others, it does not repeat what has been already stated. I have four other books on Tony and whilst they are all informative, they do 'borrow' a lot of material from previous biographies on Tony, save from Freddie Hancocks original which although being a good read, was a rushed colaboration with the BBC released just a year after Tonys suicide. I may be cynical in stating that berevity of "Hancock" gave me a feeling that the collaborators were cashing in before anyone else did.

Onto Edward Joffes' "Hancocks Last Stand..." which gives the reader what the other books don't, which is a detailed account of Tony's last few months on this earth and his attempts at a comeback in Australia. The details of the people involved, the technologies used at that period in Australia such as filming techniques - the E-CAM camera, give the reader a feel of the climate at which this sad story plays out.

You will find in this book informative descriptions regarding programme content you won't find in other books together with photographs that I have not seen published elsewhere. The complete post production script of "The Tony Hancock Special" is included. When reading the script the danger is imagining Tony at the peak of his powers which makes it a very funny read. However, this would be taking it out of context as Tony was sadly long past his best and probably should have taken a sabatical to properly address his problems instead of embarking on a comeback down under.

Some people don't agree with the author for publishing Tonys two suicide notes in his own handwriting.
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