What do you do when 20 episodes of a British radio classic from the 50s and 60s goes missing from the BBC archives? Recreate them!
Last summer, five episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour (which ran for 102 episodes in its day) were re-recorded, and director Neil Pearson has returned to the Fringe to direct another four. Cast include Kevin McNally as Tony Hancock, Simon Greenall as Sid James, Susy Kane as Andree Melly, Alex Lowe as Bill Kerr, and Robin Sebastian as Kenneth Williams.
First in the line up, Show A: The Winter Holiday and New Year Resolutions.
The Winter Holiday sees a lift attendant forced to take his first vacation in many years, which he decides to spend in Brighton. One problem: it’s the middle of November.
New Year Resolutions, however, sees a man make an entire list for the year, and successively fail each and every one.
I can’t really comment on the sketches in particularly great detal – they were typical Hancock material, very silly, quick witted and occasional groaner punchlines. What I did enjoy, however, was the simple fact that it required you to use your imagination. Simply a couple of microphones, lights and sound effects. Rehearsed readings are the way forward, methinks.
Next, Show B: Prime Minister Hancock and Three Sons.
Prime Minister Hancock is a campaign to get Tony Hancock into government with next to no credentials. Safe to say, it doesn’t go well.
Three Sons (played by Hancock) has a dying father (also played by Hancock) lament his final wish: to see his sons one last time before he goes and finally make a decision who to leave his money to.
I had seen these performances back to front: Show B then Show A, and I have to say, Show B was the more successful. There were significantly less people in house (Show A was sold out), and yet the rapport between audience and actors was more dynamic. This, I think, was down to the strength of the sketches: B’s pieces were simply stronger than A’s, but that might just be me.
Overall, get a ticket. I can’t, once again, be the only person under 40 attending things like this.
‘The Missing Hancocks’, Show A
and Show B
, Assembly Rooms, Music Hall