Hancock's Half Hour

Hancock's Half Hour

1956 - United Kingdom

Transferring from a successful radio run in 1956, the comedic misadventures of one Tony Aloysius Hancock esq. of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, beguiled the television audience of the UK until 1961.

Written by the prolific writing team of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (who would go on to create another comedy legend - Steptoe and Son), each hilarious half hour recounted a particular misadventure in the pretentiously uneventful life of the lugubrious, trademark Homburg-hatted, lead character. Partnered initially with the highly experienced comedy actor Sid James, Hancock's immaculate comic timing allied with James' own skill and perfectly pitched and observed scripts from the resident writing team, ensured the series outstanding success. However, Hancock was below the laughter filled surface (like many brilliantly gifted comedians), a darkly troubled, insecure soul. It was these insecurities which, by the show's final season, had ensured the departure of Sid James. Now renamed simply Hancock, the season was overall a pale imitation of its former glory. However, enough of the magic remained to produce two genuinely classic episodes, 'The Blood Donor' and 'The Radio Ham'. 

Following this final season Hancock made an ill advised defection from the BBC to ITV, in the process dispensing with the creative input of Galton and Simpson. The dubious decision of 'The Lad Himself' to read his lines from autocue rather than memorising them was another sad nail in the coffin lid of Hancock's television fame, and one that ultimately led him to take his own life. However, at its peak, Hancock's Half Hour was a genuine Rolls Royce amongst situation comedies, and that kind of sheer style and class never really goes out of fashion.

Published on December 20th, 2018. Written by SRH for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot

Another in the series of ITC's 'Adventures Of...' historicals. Sir Lancelot was lavishly filmed, being the first British series to be shot in colour with a view to the American market.

Also released in 1956

Two in Clover

Sid and Vic are two frustrated office workers who decide to leave behind their nine to five lifestyle for the simpler life of living in the countryside and running a farm. But will the simpler life be all it promises to be?

Also tagged Sid James

Educating Archie

As strange as it may seem now, Archie Andrews was a ventriloquists dummy that first hit the big time on Radio!

Also tagged Tony Hancock

Circus Boy

A ten-year old boy is adopted by a circus clown after his trapeze artist father is killed in a tragic accident.

Also released in 1956

The Buccaneers

Future Hollywood actor Robert Shaw (The Sting, Jaws) made his small screen debut as ex- pirate Dan Tempest, the leader of a small band of freebooters who roamed the Caribbean Seas in the 1720's on their ship The Sultana.

Also released in 1956

Bless This House

Devised by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, Bless This House was a starring vehicle for Sid James that showed him in a new and unfamiliar light-as a family man.

Also tagged Sid James

The Adventures of Hiram Holiday

The Adventures of Hiram Holliday appeared on British television screens in 1960, three years after it had been cancelled by the US network NBC.

Also released in 1956

Billy Cotton

Big band, big sound and big big personality - with a rousing call of "Wakey-Wakey" Billy Cotton introduced an inexhaustible 50 minutes of non-stop music, dancing and comedy in the essential weekend variety revue that was a stalwart of BBC programming for 12 years.

Also released in 1956

Cheyenne

Cheyenne Bodie, a half-breed frontier scout travels the Wild West in the years following the Civil War.

Also released in 1956