Hancock’s Half Hour, 1956
The original radio series is often referred to as the first British sitcom.
Hancock’s Half Hour, transferred onto television alongside the popular radio show of the same name in 1956 and continued until 1960, after which slight changes were made, most notably the change of name to ‘Hancock’, we cover Hancock in a separate post.
The radio and television series were broadcast alternately until the radio series came to an end in 1959, in this year the two series were broadcast side by side.
In a 2014 interview writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson explained the desission to move to TV “It was a natural progression. At the time no comic could afford to do TV all week, they’d work the halls Monday – Saturday, they’d do radio on a Sunday if it was written for them. When ITV came on the scene, then TV became more prevalent, so it was decided to move Hancock’s Half Hour to TV”. click here and read the full interview.
Hancock’s Half Rant!
For years on these pages and to anyone who would listen I’ve ranted that the TV version of Hancock’s Half Hour is long overdue a re-run, it still doesn’t run on any major streaming platforms. However recently selected episodes have appeared on BBC i-player and to celebrate the comic’s centenary Digital channel GOLD aired two classic episodes, Twelve Angry Men and The Blood Donor (although technically speaking Blood Donor was part of the final televised series: Hancock) what’s more they were in colour. Whilst not the full series it was still a long overdue start.
The two episodes aired alongside a documentary “Tony Hancock, Very Nearly An Armful” which aired in January this year.
Despite these little tit-bits and the radio series thankfully getting a regular run on BBC Radio 4 Extra, still no sign of a full run of the BBC TV series of the same name. My last recollection of a run of repeats was Sunday afternoons in 1986 on the BBC.
This is comedy classic and whilst available on DVD it needs an airing on major TV platforms, the radio series will be 70 next year!
In the radio show Hancock is often portrayed as a successful radio star. In the TV series he is still an entertainer but a much poorer version of the radio character.
Living at the fictional address 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, Hancock still has a lodger, whereas this was Bill Kerr on the radio, Sid James takes up residence for the TV series.
Sid is as much the rogue as we know him and each week would see Hancock getting into different scrapes not helped by Sid’s less than honest approach to assistance.
Written By: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Produced By: Dennis Main Wilson
Original Transmission Dates: 7th July 1956 – 6th May 1960