Hancock's Half Hour The 'Lost' TV Episodes: The Flight Of The Red Shadow & The Wrong Man (BBC Audio) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Two lost episodes from the much-loved BBC TV series Hancock's Half Hour.
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.
Top customer reviews
The 5-star system is irrelevant and misleading with this product. Nobody needs to sell this CD to Hancock buffs, who will simply want their collection to be complete. For newcomers, of course this is not the place to start. Galton and Simpson did write Hancock for radio too, but this is made-for-TV Hancock without the visuals, and naturally there are stretches of musical filler or audience laughter where there are clearly visual jokes going missing. If you are new to Hancock and James and want to know just how sublimely funny they could be, listen to made-for-radio episodes or watch complete made-for-TV ones first.
Having said that, if you're already a fan, you will find yourself seeing Hancock's comic bafflement and Sid's eye for the main chance in your mind as you listen. And nothing, even poor sound quality, can obscure the sharpness of Galton and Simpson's writing. In "Flight of the Red Shadow", Hancock is playing in repertory, very unsuccessfully:
SID: Do you know what the advance booking for Bolton next week is? One 2/6d stall.
HANCOCK: My mother again.
And in "The Wrong Man" Hancock is mistakenly picked out at an identity parade:
INSPECTOR: If you're innocent you have nothing to worry about. We never convict an innocent man, unless it's absolutely essential.
One golden nugget in "Shadow" - a truculent Australian sailor played by what must have been a very young Rolf Harris - I wonder if he's making royalties? He wasn't playing for laughs either; he sounds quite sinister.
If you're a dedicated fan, this is worth having now. If you're a newbie, discover two of the funniest men in history elsewhere first and come back for it.
I must say that it wasn't as bad as I feared having read some of the reviews - I played it on my hi-fi separates set up and adjusted the bass on the amplifier to the lowest setting. This made the speech a lot clearer than on a player where the sound can't be adjusted in this way.
The two episodes are still entertaining for a Hancock fan although, again as other reviewers have said, as they are sound recordings of TV shows there are a number of visual gags which are lost on the listener.
Despite the sound quality it's still great that these episodes have survived, albeit in audio only form. Overall though, I'd have to recommend them to Hancock completists only.
Though it is generally agreed that the best Hancock TV episodes were amongst those he did in the last of his British series, there are enough fans of Tony Hancock still to justify putting out whatever little still exists of his earlier TV programmes - even if they only exist now as audio recordings. I guess they may have been regarded as strange people at the time, these amateur enthusiasts who propped up a microphone in front of their TV speaker, but who's laughing now? With over twenty missing TV episodes, fans of Hancock have a lot to thank them for, and for a home recording that was done by putting a microphone in front of a speaker, the sound quality on the first episode in this 2 episode set is excellent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second, which is very muffled, and a bit like listening through a duvet. You can make out the words, but you do need to concentrate.
Unlike the radio series, these audio-only episodes were - of course - never meant to be listened to without the visuals. There are many long moments when people are laughing and you have to use your imagination to come up with the reason. Most of the time, that isn't too difficult, but there are moments when the joke was clearly dependent on a visual, and it's a shame that no photographs were available to put in the otherwise good sleeve notes (I'm assuming that no on-set photos exist, as I'd hope they'd have included them otherwise).
Serious fans of Tony Hancock or Sid James will probably enjoy the two episodes this CD offers. However, casual fans may be more critical. The two episodes given here are, sadly, quite formulaic. Neither of them stuck me as being in any way original (in fairness, one of them was a loose parody of a Hitchcock film), and they would not read as all that funny were you to look only at a script. As with a number of HHH scripts, which to be fair span a range between poor and genius, the only genuine humour comes from the superb comic deliveries of Misters Hancock and James. So in summary, this is only really one for the diehards. Casual fans would be best advised to look instead for the radio series (Hancock's Half Hour: The Very Best Episodes: v. 1 (Radio Collection)) or surviving TV episodes (The Tony Hancock BBC Collection (8 Disc Box Set) [DVD]).
Most recent customer reviews
can't listen to this, the quality is too bad.
Here are his views:
"From AudioGo this CD has two recordings from 1959.Read more
It's too difficult to know what's going on too often.Read more
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