Twelve Angry Men – 1959
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first broadcast of Hancock’s Half Hour on BBC Radio, comedy scriptwriting legends Ray Galton and Alan Simpson are presenting a very special series of posts, in which they share their personal favourite episodes from their work on TV and Radio with Tony Hancock.
BCC: You’ve picked a personal favourite of mine, Twelve Angry Men, what made this particular episode stand out?
G&S: We were always very pleased with the script for that one and we really liked how Austin Trevor came across as the judge.
BCC: Where did you come up with the idea for the script?
G&S: We took the idea from a film of the same name that starred Henry Fonda. We adapted it to suit Hancock’s Half Hour with Tony in the Henry Fonda part.
Broadcast as episode four of the fifth series Of Hancock’s Half Hour television series. The title came about later as originally episodes were not given individual titles.
In 1996, the episode was remade, this time for ITV with Paul Merton in the Hancock role, as part of the series Paul Merton in Galton and Simpson’s..
Comedian Ben Miller, in the BBC documentary My Hero: Ben Miller on Tony Hancock, said that “Twelve Angry Men” was his favourite Hancock episode and claimed to have watched it at least thirty times.
The comedy comes in two halves. In the first half, Hancock and Sid are members of a jury in the trial of a man – John Harrison Peabody – accused of stealing some jewellery. Hancock has been elected jury foreman and continually interrupts the proceedings, prompted by Sid. When he asks if the jury can see the evidence for a second time, the judge agrees. Hilarity ensues when Hancock tries on one of the exhibits – a diamond ring – but is unable to remove it. His attempts to remove the ring prove futile, so he and the other jury members have to retire for their deliberations with the ring still stuck on Hancock’s finger.
For the second half Hancock stands alone in his belief that the accused is innocent. Sid is quite happy to cut a pack of cards to make the decission, until Hancock points out they’re being paid 50 bob a day. “That’s more than I earn on the outside” he exclaims Justice then takes a back seat as Sid tries to prolong proceedings.
When a verdict is finally agreed things take a twist with all twelve jury members appearing in the dock accused of theft.
Tony Hancock … Anthony Aloysius Hancock
Sidney James … Sidney Balmoral James (as Sid James)
Austin Trevor … Judge
William Kendall … Juror
Leslie Perrins … Juror
Philip Ray … Juror
Alec Bregonzi … Young man juror
Lala Lloyd … Juror
Mario Fabrizi … 12th juror
Kenneth Kove … Juror
James Bulloch … Juror
Betty Cardno … Juror
Marie Lightfoot … Juror
Leonard Sachs … Defending Counsel
Robert Dorning … Policeman
Ralph Nossek … Prosecuting Counsel
Hugh Lloyd … Usher
Herbert Nelson … Bit part (uncredited)
Channel: BBC Television
Written By: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Produced By: Duncan Wood
Originally Transmitted: 16th October 1959