33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Probably the last word on "the lad",
This review is from: Tony Hancock: The Definitive Biography (Hardcover)
This isn't the first account of Tony Hancock's life. Variously his agent/wife Freddie, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams among others have covered his story to one degree or another. The previous "full" account - When the Wind Changed - concentrated more on the scurrilous allegations of Tony's life -but, as John Fisher effectively says in hs preface here, you need to take some of that with a pinch of salt.
I guess we're not likely to have a more definitive biography than this one looking at the wealth of contributions to it. Fisher clearly knows his British comedy, as he pompously keeps telling us, but you are left with a very clear idea of where Hancock's humour came from, the contribution he made and the footprint he left. I'm tempted to say he left a huge shadow but it is clear that it was exactly those sort of puns which represented his dislike - if not loathing - of his self image.
The truth is that he was the best British comic actor of our time but he was fatally unable to simply recopgnise that and luxuriate in the genuine love his audience and colleagues had for him (Sid James comes out of this particularly sympathetically). Fisher brings out very well Hancock's huge intellectual pretensions and the negative impact his ever growing quest for perfection had on his comedy and those around him.
Hancock's alcoholism, mental illness and lapses into violence and abuse are well and responsibly handled by Fisher. Ultimately it leaves you with a real sense of sadness for what Hancock did to himself and what we lost. But there is a huge amount of good to remember and this long (very long)and exhaustive view of the lad and his times is rewarding at all times.
I finished the book and watched a couple of old TV shows straightaway, Brilliance.