This is Hancock: An album a week/month/year #13, plus a pointless rant.
Tony Hancock was a very good comic actor. Galton and Simpson were even more elite in their own field of comedy writing. Time was to show that Hancock needed Galton and Simpson more than they needed him — they went on to even more world-famous successes, like Steptoe and Son (the seed of Sanford and Son in the US), whereas Hancock went on to do some good material, especially on his TV show, but the scripts were not as consistency funny or heartfelt and his career, it might be asserted, started to slip from the time they parted.
This is a recording from the radio show, which pre-dated and then ran alongside his earlier TV work. It is indeed by Galton and Simpson, and it has the more expansive cast of the radio show — with Bill Kerr, the Australian who did not make it onto the TV shows, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Williams and Sid James. As I recall as Hancock went along he became more and more paranoid about his co-stars betting too much attention, and the cast was slimmed down until we have episodes like ‘The Radio Ham’ which are essentially Hancock in a room.
And what a cast! All of them were leads in their own shows at different times. It’s like a supergroup of radio comedy.
But I have to focus on ‘A Sunday Afternoon at Home’. Except I have mentioned it previously. But I’ll have a rant anyway…
In the US Bob the Builder is dubbed, when the original is in English! I do find this odd. We don’t get Bob saying ‘stone the crows it hot in here today’ in Australia. We get Neil Morrissey. It can’t be that people in the US can’t understand any kind of English that is not ‘American’ English, surely? Or are they troubled by things not their own? And then they cast Hugh Laurie as House in that show, House, and his accent was so good the producer apparently did not even know he was English — Hugh Laurie, a man who had been on TV for more than 10 years before House was made, who had had his own comedy shows on the BBC, co-starred in Black Adder and a bunch of other programs and been in a useful handful of movies. Does the rest of the world not even exist once you go south of Canada? I do not get it. Well, really I do; the USA is so big, so resplendent in its own vast panoply of creative talent, there’s no need to look outside, and what comes in from outside is a small fraction of the total market. It’s easy to be ignorant of the rest of the world when you are the dominant force. It’s actually not unreasonable that the bulk of the population sees the rest of the world as impinging only slightly; but actual TV executive have no such excuse. The raging ignorance of people inside the industry is weird. And even if they did not know Laurie was not a Yank, did they not even look him up? He’s not exactly invisible. Which brings me to Seinfeld. Let me outline what happens in ‘A Sunday Afternoon at Home’ as recorded on the record I am talking about: nothing. It is a show about nothing. Remind you of anything? Yes, except it was made in about 1960. More, you have four essentially self-centred, annoying characters entertaining themselves by being annoying to each other. Remind you of anything? Yes, and yet the people behind Seinfeld have said they knew nothing about Hancock. If they did know they’re lying and if they didn’t they’re insular and parochial.
Anyway, this is funny, both sides and even the copy on the back. It is witty, inventive, and performed with a keen ear for a laugh. It is peak radio Hancock, which is comedy of a high order. Uncle Bert and Auntie Edie would agree.