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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

THE ARCHIVE LIKES - Toeknee Handc**ck

The name Tony Hancock was known to me as a school kid without being aware of who he was. His fame in the school play yard was because he was the only comedian whose name you could spell out with body parts - You see it used to amuse us, spotty scruffy kids, to spell the name in body parts. You'd go, "Toe" and point to your toes, and then "Knee" and point to your knees - toeknee and then Han would become hand and ...well, you can figure out the rest.

I think the great man would have gotten a kick out of that.

Hancock, was one of the finest comedic actors that Britain has ever produced and his long running show, Hancock Half Hour which started out on radio and then transferred to television is generally credited with inventing the sitcom. At a time when most comedy was sketch driven, Hancock's show, written by the legendary team of Galton and Simpson, was event driven and would portray the misadventures of Hancock and his friends each week.

The best known episodes are the generally regarded classics - The blood doner, the radio ham, the bowmen. Like Monty Python huge swathes of dialogue from the Hancock scripts are so well known that people often quote them in day to day speech.

"A pint! - that's very near an armful.' Hancock pointed out to a doctor when he had gone along to give blood and enquired about how much they wanted. "I'm not walking around with an empty arm."

Hancock would see himself becoming Britains best known comedian before quitting his television series at the height of its fame to concentrate on feature films. His first film The Punch and Judy Man flopped, as did his second The Rebel. Hancock then went to Australia and signed up for a six part comedy series - Hancock Down Under - he only completed three episodes before committing suicide in June 1968. In recent years Hancock had suffered a myriad of personal problems.

His legacy lives on and many of the episodes of his popular TV series have been released on DVD - bbc7 regularly broadcasts episodes of the radio series

7 comments:

A man called Valance said...

Yup, toe - knee - hand - snigger. Remember it well. Remember his gift for comedy, too. Thanks, Archavist.

Paul Brazill said...

top post. big hero of mine.

Oscar said...

I like humor of any kind and think the British have the best over-all sense of humor, although the French are good, too, and some of the US is pretty funny. Don't think I've seen any of Mr. Hancock, but will be on the lookout for it in the DVDs

Jack said...

The best was Tony Hancock doing Hamlet's soliloquey as Long John Silver.
"To be or not to be, aha Jim lad that be the question."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nice remembrance but with a sad ending.

Anonymous said...

Replay the Hancock gems every so often.They always seem timeless, confined to their own universe of Railway Cuttings, East Cheam.

Bowled sideways by the bodyparts name ref - brain never made the connection before!

PS. Serendipity coming across this site. Love it, especially the Holmes sections. (Thanks Holmesnews on Twitter).

Anonymous said...

"Punch and Judy Man" was his second film (infamously!) "The Rebel" was his first starring film and was not a flop at all.