Despite all the radio episodes being recorded in the 1950s the show remains fresh and funny; the only clues to its age being some of the topical references and prices. The clearest demonstration of this freshness is that in the re-recorded lost episodes that Radio 4 have just made they only had to change half a line in five episodes. Writers Alan Galton and Ray Simpson picked up on trends in the contemporary theatre, producing an episode in which Hancock is starring in a play called Look Back in Hunger, a reference to John Osbourne's Look Back in Anger and the famous Sunday Afternoon episode makes reference to Beckett's Waiting for Godot. The only thing that spoilt the show was Hancock's increasing jealousy of his co-stars, which meant that by the time the last television episodes were made none of his original co-stars were left in the show, a true loss. The early episodes where his co-stars are allowed more laughs are much funnier for it.
|L-R Kenneth Williams, Tony Hancock, Bill Kerr and Sid James|
Get listening, you won't regret it! Anyone else into vintage radio comedy out there?
P.S. For vintage comedy geeks there is an amazing episode of The Men From The Ministry available here, in which the cast of Much Binding in the Marsh, the show in which Richard Murdoch, the co-star, really made his name in the 1940s, appear. It's truly delightful, very funny and according to my Dad (a retired civil servant) an accurate picture of civil service life.
P.P.S. There's a six part series on the history of radio comedy 1975-2005 on Radio 4 started on Saturday. It's entertaining but I do wish they had started earlier.