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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant scriptwriting, but a few dodgy factoids..., 20 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Lost Hancock Scripts: 10 Scripts from the Classic Radio and TV Series (Hardcover)
Stone me, let's be honest, what 'Hancock's Half-Hour' (HHH) aficionados really want is an indexed online resource that provides the full scripts of all the 'lost' radio and TV episodes, for them to surf at their leisure. While that may one day become a reality, in the meantime they have this excellent selection five radio and five TV scripts from the earlier series of each (later shows being more likely to have been preserved on tape or film). Anyone who knows the radio and TV recordings will have no trouble imagining the voices of Hancock, Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams, and Andrée Melly (along with 90-year-old Kerr now the last surviving HHH regulars) as they peruse these pages - marvellous!

Galton and Simpson have annotated their work to explain some of the topical and cultural references from the 1950s which may seem obscure to modern readers; and unfortunately, these annotations contain a couple of boo-boos. For instance, they state that Kenneth Williams only joined the radio HHH cast from Series Two - not true, he did feature in the first series, and indeed in the very first episode (as Lord Bayswater, with the immortal line "Who threw jelly over the Rembrandt?"). G&S also state that only the first TV series was performed and broadcast live, "after that they were recorded" - not quite right, as only a very limited number of episodes from Series' One to Three were telerecorded, and then mainly for internal evaluation - otherwise they were live, as were several episodes of Series Four. It was only with the arrival of an Ampex quadruplex video recording systems at the BBC in 1958 that meant that HHH could from Series Five onwards be recorded for time-shifted broadcast in the UK.

Then there's the authors' curious assertion in the TV episode 'The Italian Maid' that "Until the mid-1980s, gas meters were activated by inserting pennies and shillings" - even allowing for the fact the decimalisation did not mean that the shilling ceased to become legal tender by the 1980s, and was not officially demonetised in 1991, non-coin gas meters were of course commonplace long before the 1980s. An editor at publisher JR Books really should have spotted that one.

Anyway, mush, these are but minor quibbles amid some of the most brilliant comedy wordage committed to paper. Anyone with an interest in Britcom, or scriptwriting, should buy this book.
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