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Hancock's Half Hour Collectibles: Volume 1: Rarities from the BBC radio archive Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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About the Author
Ray Galton and Alan Simpson met in a sanatorium in Surrey, where they were both being treated for TB. Ray Galton remembers noticing the six-foot-four Simpson and thinking he looked surprisingly large - ‘you expect everyone in a sanatorium to be thin and weedy, and he was the biggest guy I’d ever seen’. During two years in the same ward, they listened to comedy shows together and also wrote a series of their own, creating a radio room in a linen cupboard.
Having left the sanatorium within a few months of each other, they decided to get a professional opinion of their work and sent a sketch they had written called The Pirate Sketch to the BBC. They were asked to go in for an interview, and soon found themselves writing for the sketch show Happy Go Lucky. Over the next two years they continued to write sketches for a number of big names, before coming up with the idea for Hancock’s Half Hour. Although the BBC took some persuading, eventually the show was scheduled, initially for radio but later as a television series. A phenomenally successful ten years later, Galton and Simpson were themselves very well known names.
After Hancock’s Half Hour they wrote Comedy Playhouse for the BBC, out of which came their second huge television and radio hit, Steptoe & Son. In 1977 they wrote The Galton & Simpson Playhouse, produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV.
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For me the highlight is the soundtrack from the TV episode called "The Horror Serial". Hancock has been watching "Quatermass and the Pit" and he's completely freaked out. The discovery of a large metal cylinder buried in his backyard is the cue for "Dr.Hancock" to take a stand against possible alien invasion. If only the video still existed!
The Horror Serial
The Blackboard Jungle
Disc 2 - 1 Hour, 1 minute, 32 seconds
The Student Prince
The Test Match
Disc 3 - 1 Hour, 17 minutes, 10 seconds
Calling All Forces
Disc 4 - 1 hour, 9 minutes, 41 seconds
Face to Face
Disc 5 - 1 hour, 10 minutes, 16 seconds
The Best of Hancock
Tribute to Tony Hancock
The first of the HHH collectibles series helps to give a more complete recording history of arguably the best comic that this country has ever produced - and for me the collection does not disappoint. For me it was an easy choice to buy this collection as it contained "The Student Prince" and "The Test Match", the latter which features real like cricketing guests John Arlott and Frank Tyson among others, which were two of a very few episodes that I previously did not have in my collection. The only slight disappointment is that "The Test Match" despite having been restored and remastered, suffers from two brief moments of noticeable sound distortion. Also included is the tv episode of "The Horror Serial" which probably has been seldom heard since its tv appearance in 1959.
The famous "Face to Face" interview is here unabridged and it is nice to have it on cd, though it loses some of the intensity of the tv recording (available on "The Tony Hancock Collection" dvd box set), because the tv version allowed for the visual close-ups of Tony being interviewed by John Freeman. It is also nice to have material that was written by Eric Sykes and Sid Colin regarding "Educating Archie", while the "Calling All Forces" episode was written by Bob Monkhouse and Denis Goodwin. "'Ancock's Anthology" is a highly personable and enjoyable listen as is "The best of Hancock." A great way to end this collection was the "Tribute to Tony Hancock" which was recorded shortly after his death.
Throughout, the sound quality of material was very good excepting the aforementioned couple of moments on "The Test Match" episode. To view the PDF booklet notes you will need access to Windows Explorer or Apple Mac Finder and it is a nice inclusion.
So, very good in my opinion and I look forward next year to Volume 2. Maybe they will include Tony's appearance on "Desert Island Discs" which I have never heard before. That programme could reveal more about Tony than we might otherwise know - here's hoping
I have given 5 stars because of the importance of the contents, the dedication and work put into this volume by the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society and the great enjoyment it gives, and will give, me and many others.
That said, I must voice my disapproval on certain areas. In no particular order:
1. The track details are on the internal face of the CD case, making parts difficult to read.
2. The CDs are housed on a spindle, meaning that other CDs have to be removed when wishing to play any disc bar the top one. Even ‘The Missing Hancocks’ are housed in proper jewel cases.
3. Why on Earth did ‘collectables’ have to appear as the American spelling ‘collectibles’? After all, ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ is a British institution and, as such, should it not be protected from Americanisation?
4. The title itself is a misnomer. ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ episodes appear only on 2 of the 5 CDs, with a ‘Best of...’ programme included on CD5.
5. The accompanying (excellent) booklet is included on CD1 in PDF format. Anyone without a PC cannot access this, including several friends of mine who are of a similar age. IT discrimination?
But, please don’t think I’m being ungrateful or pettifogging (now there’s a Hancockism for you!). I would not be without this collection and neither should anyone else who has the slightest affection for Tony Hancock. Hence, despite my criticisms, I repeat ... FIVE STARS.
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