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Tony Hancock

"He, bumbled through life, belligerent and insecure, defiant in the face of constant failure yet refusing to ever concede defeat".
 
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BBC - Hancock's Half Hour title sequence

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It all began on the wireless. Hancock's Half Hour kicked off in November 1954 becoming a very British, comic-institution for almost two decades.

Starring Tony Hancock, the show's writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, created the winning and loveably snobbish, very British gent with social aspirations and delusions of grandeur - Tony's thespian, gangster alter ego - aka Tony Hancock. 'The lad himself', bumbled through life, belligerent and insecure, defiant in the face of constant failure yet refusing ever to concede defeat.

Set in 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam it followed the capers of those who lived in what became one of the most famous fictional streets in Britain. With razor sharp wit embedded cleverly in a fast moving script, Hancock's thespian ability with a witty twist was enhanced by a plethora of comic talent; Bill Kerr was the Aussie from Wagga Wagga, Sid James Hancock's villainous landlord, Hattie Jacques played secretary Griselda 'Grizzly' Pugh and Kenneth Williams sneered through his role as Snide - his infamous catch phrase, "Oooo, stop messing about," made its first appearance on the show.

Galton and Simpson's scripts set the scene for the way British comedy is created, using one or two authors, rather an entire team as in the US. This set up meant the pressure was on; the show was recorded on a Sunday for broadcast the following Tuesday or Wednesday, so the show's creators would have to hit their typewriters the day after recording to manage the frenetic turn around.

By 1956, the series had become so successful it transferred to new-fangled TV where Galton and Simpson's scripts set another precedent by becoming the ultimate British sitcom prototype. Whereas in the radio version, wacky, camp, 'comedy' voices led the show, the TV version evolved into more of a reality-based drama, emerging as a situation comedy that the writers and Hancock himself felt should be as true to life as possible. The British sitcom was born. The radio show continued to run concurrently with the television version until 1959.
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