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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 27 December 2009
If you have been searching for Hancocks Half Hour then it's a sure bet you don't need to read yet another review of how fabulous the late great Tony was. We all ready know THAT. When I was pondering on whether to buy, the most helpful piece of info was sadly lacking from any of the reviews. So here is the episode listing of the collectors box sets series 1-5. Please note the number of episodes differ from series to series as some were lost. I will add series 6 once I've got it.

Series 1
The first night party
The idol
The boxing champion
The new car
Cinderella hancock
A trip to france
The monte carlo rally
A house on the cliff
The sheikh
The end of the series

Series 2
The holiday camp
The chef that died of shame
The rail srike
The television set
The marrow contest

Series 3
The pet dog
The jewel robbery
The bequest
Hancocks hair
The student prince
The greyhound track
The conjurer
The test match

Series 4
Back from holiday
The bolshoi ballet * the first 2 episodes came with the wrong sleeve, so check this if you buy
The income tax demand
Michaelangelo 'ancock
Anna and the king of siam
Cyrano de hancock
The expresso bar
hancock happy xmas
The diary
The 13th of the series
Almost a gentleman
The old school reunion
The wild man of the woods
Agricultural 'ancock
hancock in the police
The emigrant
The last of the mchancocks

Series 5
The new radio series
The scandal magazine
The male suffragettes
The insurance policy
The publicity photograph
The unexploded bomb
Hancocks School
Around the world in 80 days
The americans hit town
The election candidate
Hancocks car
The east cheam drama festival
The foreign legion
Sunday afternoon at home
The grappling game
The junk man
Hancocks war
The prize money
The threatening letters
The sleepless night

Series 6
The Stolen Petrol
Bill & Father Christmas
The 13th of the Month
The New Secretary
The Ballet Visit
The Ellection Candidate
The Smugglers
The Childhood Sweetheart
The Last Bus Home
The Picnic
The Gourmet
The Elopement
Fred's Pie Stall
The Waxwork
Sid's Mystery Tours
The Fete
The Poetry Society
Hancock in Hospital
The Christmas Club
The Impersonator

Enjoy!
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on 2 December 2001
The latest instalment of BBC's excavation of the archives to unearth the gems of their classic comedy wardrobe brings us Hancock's Half Hour Series 3. Eight of the original 20 broadcasts from the third series have survived, lavishly packaged over 4 cd's including brief synopses for all the shows transmitted originally between the 1955 and 1956 season and notes from the writers Galton and Simpson.
This is the last series to feature the object of Hancock's desires Andree Melly, who apears here miraculously 'elisa doolittled'replete with rounded vowels. The 'snide' character of Kenneth Williams now firmly established this series is blessed with some hysterical moments including what at the time must have been a coup for the show, the guest appearance of cricketeers Colin Cowdrey, Godfrey Evans and Frank Tyson.
Splendour at Hancock's egotistical buffoonery as a foolhardy dupe for Sid James'dastardly manipulation and Kenneth Williams range of characters in this acknowledged classic situation comedy.
Easy to see why then that at it's peak this show caused landlords at public houses up and down the country to change their opening times when broadcast on the airwaves.
Featured here are three shows previously included on the cassette collections augmented by five 'new' shows seeing Hancock in all manner of scrapes. Prized moments here are 'The Jewel Robbery'where Hancock decides it's time to change his car and buys a Rolls Royce ("for a man who doesn't like mentioning money I think you've forced yourself admirably") and ends up finding himself unwittingly involved in a car chase. In 'The Pet Dog' Hancock becoming the proud owner of a new puppy "there's only one thing for it Bill, move the car out of the garage....and into the kennel"
On the evidence of this little treasure, Series 4 is eagerly awaited with b-b-baited breathe.
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VINE VOICEon 19 December 2002
As a big Hancock fan , this is the series box set I have been waiting for. The highlights just were never surpassed "Sunday Afternoon at Home" and "Sleepless Night". The team were working like a well oiled machine, and Kenneth Williams was finally allowed to expand his repatoire, rather than simply doing a string of meaningless fill in characters. The material just comes to life through the talents of the few individuals, its hard for me ( a mere 31 years old) to appreciate this material is 45 years old now!
Of course, the real bonus to any fan is the additional pieces of material on some episodes, for example "Unexploded Bomb" benefits from some extra 5 mins of unheard material, that is not included on the audio cassettes!
If you enjoy Hancock, beg, borrow and steal to get this collection, its worth every single penny. If you only want to buy one collection of Hancock material, get this one, I will guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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on 26 November 2002
By series five, Hancock and the regular team (Sid James, Bill Kerr, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams) were on unbeatable form, as were writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. This ten-CD set contains all twenty episodes from the series, and those who know Hancock only from later material such as 'The Blood Donor' will find some real gems here.
Outstanding episodes include 'The Americans Hit Town', 'The Publicity Photograph' and 'The East Cheam Drama Festival', but picking highlights is almost invidious - there simply isn't a weak episode in this set.
This is a world-class performer, with a superlative cast, at his very best, performing some brilliant and unforgettable scripts. The only downside is that all but five of these episodes have previously been issued on audio cassette, so this is a rather expensive way to acquire comparatively little new material if you've already bought the tapes. If you don't own the tapes, or are one of Hancock's very many admirers, this is a "must own" box set.
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on 15 May 2002
After the uncertainty of the first three series, Hancock's Half Hour finally turns into the classic sitcom we all remember.
There's still a few bumpy patches, but there's no rotten episodes. Hattie Jacques instantly establishes herself and is ten times the performer of the previous female stooges, but she starts off doing a Margaret Dumont impression rather than the faye loon she became in later episodes.
From now on it's perfection.
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on 13 November 2002
The true "golden age of Hancock's Half Hour" began during the fourth series. The catalyst was the arrival, in episode five, of Hattie Jacques. From here on, both writing and performing scaled and sustained new heights.
This nine-CD box-set contains the surviving seventeen (of twenty) episodes originally broadcast between October 1956 and February 1957.
Given the high quality of this material, it is not surprising that most of it has been available before. In fact, eleven of the seventeen episodes are contained in the ten-volume audio-cassette series issued between 1988 and 1998. If you already own the cassettes, this package is a rather expensive way of obtaining just six new episodes, only two of which ("The Income Tax Demand" and "Michaelangelo 'Ancock") are truly memorable.
For those not owning the cassettes, however, this set is well worth buying, and an ideal way to start a collection of one of the all-time greats of classic radio comedy.
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on 18 April 2003
Comedy at it's finest, Hancock passes the finish line with classic shows such as 'The Poetry Society' (my fave) and 'The Smugglers'.

These shows may have been recorded nearly 50 years ago but Tone's consistent and hilarious portrayal of pomposity, arrogance, stupidity, and wonderfully misplaced patriotism are a joy to behold, and gives this collection a timeless quality (unless you think these traits are no longer with us in the 21st century).

With a regular cast of Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques, and Bill Kerr, this is ensemble comedy that is as good as Seinfeld, and there can be no higher praise than that.
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on 3 March 2000
Good comedy is timeless. Hancock's Half Hour may be over forty years old but it is still one of the greatest sitcoms ever devised for radio and television. Written by masters (Ray Galton & Alan Simpson) and delivered by a genius (Tony Hancock). Hancock is backed up by the legendary actor/comedians Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Bill Kerr, and Hattie Jacques who all provide the perfect foil for Hancock to play out his persona. This edition of tapes is the first and probably the best of the 10 sets to date. 'The Unexploded Bomb' is an excellent example of an original and beautifully crafted plot. 'The Poetry Society' is perhaps one of Hancock's finer moment on radio. Mixing with a punch of expresso bar lay-abouts, he becomes a memeber of the East Cheam Culutural Progressive Society. The situation is tailor made for Hancock to start bouncing his remarks off everyone. 'The Americans Hit Town' sees him and Sid join forces in order to screw the visiting American troops over for every penny they've got. Finally, 'Sid James Mystery Tours' provides a little bit of light laughter to round the set off. The latter probably being the weaker of the four episodes, but still a match for anything America could produce. Hancock was an artiste. By his sides were two of the greatest comic writers the world has ever produced. In a world where the phrase 'comic genius' is given to anybody who can produce a half decent sitcom, Tony Hancock actually earned his title.
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on 24 November 2000
The first radio series of the Hancock's Half Hour Radio Series is a must for the diehard fan of vintage British radio comedy. The sound enhancements made to the old recordings are very good and its hard to believe the episodes are over 45 years old. The only disappointment that several of this series have been 'mislaid' by the BBC leaving only ten episodes (of 16) on these five CD's. The first two episodes are a bit disjointed and show a touch of nervousness and clumsiness on the part of the cast and some writing from Galton and Simpson which is not up to their usual high standard. The audience too, seem a little unsure of the storyline. However, rest assured, it starts to come good on the second CD. From then on its Hancock at his best, well supported by Sid James, Bill Kerr and Moira Lister as Hancock's long suffering girlfriend. The audience begin to go with the plots and appear more appreciative than in the first episodes. The highlights (difficult to choose) are "Cinderella Hancock", where Tony plays a Cinderella type character who is prevented from going to a movie ball by the ugly "sisters" Kerr and James. Thanks to a "fairy-Godfather" Tony arrives at the ball and tries to impress the stars. He departs the ball at midnight leaving behind an old army boot as his calling card. He is soon reunited with it at the end of the episode by two soldiers who nab Hancock for desertion from the Army. Another fine episode is "The New Car" when Hancock buys a car from Sid, not knowing it is a 'hot' police car recently stolen by Mr James! All in all its excellent. Several cameo roles appear including Dora Bryan, Raymond Baxter and wonderful bit parts by the versatile Kenneth Williams (especially as an escaped convict in "The New Car" and as acustoms officer in "A Trip To France").
Can't wait for series two (next year maybe?) PS: You also get the full signature tune at the end of each episode.
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I was introduced to Hancock by my Grandparents many years ago when I the first heard The Blood Donor, being the most famous (but not in my opinion the best) show - from there on I was hooked and the collector's edition box sets that were eventually released were a dream come true!

Supporting Hancock throughout the first series were Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams & Moira Lista.

16 episodes were recorded by the BBC for the first series, broadcast between November 1954 & February 1955, however, only 10 survived at the time the box set was produced. 5 CD's in individual sleeves include two shows per CD, and contain the following episodes in chronological order:

The First Night Party
The Idol
The Boxing Champion
The New Car
Cinderella Hancock
A Trip To France
The Monte Carlo Rally
A House On The Cliff
The Sheikh
The End Of The Series

Standout episodes for me are The First Night Party, A Trip To France & The End Of the Series, but all are thoroughly enjoyable and the whole package is well worthy of a 5 star rating.

Supporting Hancock throughout the second series were Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams & Andree Melly.

12 episodes were recorded by the BBC for the second series, broadcast between April 1955 & July 1955, however, only 5 survived at the time the box set was produced. 3 CD's in individual sleeves include two shows per CD, and contain the following episodes in chronological order:

The Holiday Camp
The Chef That Dies of Shame
The Rail Strike
The Television Set
The Marrow Contest

Only The Rail Strike really stands out for me, and interestingly the first 4 lost episodes starred Harry Secombe in Hancock's lead role, as Hancock `disappeared' with what apparently was diagnosed as a minor nervous breakdown.

Supporting Hancock throughout the third series, were Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams & Andree Melly.

20 episodes were recorded by the BBC for the third series, broadcast between October 1955 & February 1956, and only 8 survive. 10 CD's in individual sleeves include two shows per CD, and contain the following episodes in chronological order:

The Pet Dog
The Jewel Robbery
The Bequest
Hancock's Hair
The Student Prince
The Greyhound Track
The Conjuror
The Test Match

The shows improved considerably from the second series, and The Jewel Robbery, The Bequest, Hancock's Hair, The Student Prince & The Conjuror are all standout episodes.

Supporting Hancock throughout the fifth series, were Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams & Hattie Jacques.

20 episodes were recorded by the BBC for the fifth series, broadcast between January 1958 & June 1958, and all 20 survive. 10 CD's in individual sleeves include two shows per CD, and contain the following episodes in chronological order:

The New Radio series
The Scandal Magazine
The Male Suffragettes
The Insurance Policy
The Publicity Photograph
The Unexploded Bomb
Hancock's School
Around The World In Eighty Days
The Americans Hit Town
The Election Candidate
Hancock's Car
The East Cheam Drama Festival
The Foreign Legion
Sunday Afternoon At Home
The Grappling Game
The Junk Man
Hancock's War
The Prize Money
The Threatening Letters
The Sleepless Night

There are some top drawer episodes in this series, notably The Scandal Magazine, The Publicity Photograph, The Unexploded Bomb, The Americans Hit Town, The East Cheam Drama Festival, Sunday Afternoon At Home, The Grappling Game, Hancock's War, The Threatening Letters & The Sleepless Night.

Each set includes a CD sized 15 page booklet, which includes a synopsis of each episode, and biographies of the stars & writers.

I also recommend the book `Fifty Years of Hancock's Half Hour' by Richard Webber, ISBN 1-8441-3389-3, which tells the story of how the show was conceived, with detailed synopsis & information of every show produced.
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