Entertainment & Arts

Missing Hancock's Half Hour episodes to air

Sid James and Tony Hancock
Image caption Sid James and Tony Hancock starred in the TV version

Five missing episodes from classic 1950s radio series Hancock's Half Hour are to be re-recorded and aired on BBC Radio 4 later this year.

The series - starring Tony Hancock and written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson - featured 103 episodes but 20 of the audio recordings are missing.

Five of the those scripts - chosen by Galton and Simpson - will now be re-recorded in front of a live audience.

They will air in November to celebrate Galton and Simpson's 60th anniversary.

The five episodes will feature Kevin R McNally, who appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, as Hancock.

TV version of radio show

Other characters will be played by W1A and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa actor Simon Greenall, Hugo and Hot Fuzz star Kevin Eldon and Sherlock actor Robin Sebastian.

Recording begins at the BBC Radio Theatre in London on Tuesday.

Hancock's Half Hour was an immediate critical and ratings success.

In 1956, Hancock's Half Hour was made into a TV series and both versions alternated until 1959.

The TV show remained faithful to the radio series, although only Sid James was retained from the cast.

The radio show wound down in 1959, while on television, Hancock was becoming concerned at the increasing popularity of his co-star James.

James played the man-on-the-street foil to Hancock's pompous character, with viewers often siding with James.

As a result, Hancock decided that following the 1960 series, James was to be dropped and the show would continue without him, re-titled simply Hancock.

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