First major UK tour of classic radio comedy Hancock’s Half Hour comes to Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre
In 1954, Tony Hancock burst on to the airwaves of the BBC Light Programme with a comedy show unlike anything the British public had heard before.
Playing a less successful version of himself, with a supporting cast of fellow comedy greats including Sid James, Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams, Hancock’s Half Hour was one of the first programmes in the genre we now know as sitcom.
Written by young up-and-comers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, who later went on to create Steptoe and Son, Hancock’s Half Hour redefined radio comedy and has had people laughing non-stop for the past 65 years.
Now, 65 years after its first broadcast, Apollo Theatre Company, who recently produced UK tours of classic radio comedies, The Goon Show and Round the Horne, bring the show to the stage for the first time.
The show stars John Hewer – Just Like That: The Tommy Cooper Show – as Tony Hancock with Ben Craze and Colin Elmer reprising their roles from the 2019 production as Sid James and Kenneth Williams respectively.
They will be joined by Alice Osmanski – Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – as Andree Melly, Callum Hale – Tristram Shandy - Gentleman – as Bill Kerr and Clive Greenwood – Up Pompei – as the BBC announcer.
Producer and director Tim Astley says: “Hancock’s Half Hour was one of the greatest comedy shows of all time and it’s truly an honour to be able to bring it to the stage.
"We’re so used to sitcoms as a part of the comedy landscape these days that it’s hard to imagine a time without them and to appreciate just how groundbreaking the show was when it came along in 1954.
"Tony Hancock’s genius ‘put-upon’ persona had such an influence on so many great comedy characters from Basil Fawlty to David Brent; it can’t be underestimated quite how much he helped shape comedy as we know it today.
“Being a radio comedy show, these characters and their world largely exist in people’s imaginations and this show, which recreates the BBC recording studio of the 1950s, gives audiences a chance to see them brought to life like never before and will create a unique experience for fans both old and new.”
Hancock’s Half Hour later transferred to television with SId James.
Hancock's decision to cease working with James, when it became known in early 1960, disappointed many at the time, his last BBC series in 1961 contains some of his best-remembered work – including The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham.
After breaking with his scriptwriters Ray Galton and Alan Simpson later that year, his career declined. Hancock killed himself by an overdose, in Sydney, on 25 June 1968, aged 44.
The show can be seen in the theatre’s McCarthy auditorium at 7.45pm on Monday 2 October and 1.45pm and 7.45pm on Tuesday 3 October.
Tickets from the theatre box office on 01723 370541 or online at www.sjt.uk.com