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Hancock's Half Hour

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Classic Radio Comedy Show Sees Return Of Tony Hancock
Fans of the comedy genius that was Tony Hancock will be in their cussed element when the first ever UK tour of his classic radio comedy, Hancock's Half Hour, takes to the live stage 50 years after his death. The theatre tour, which opens on January 28 and runs until April 7th, includes a poignant visit to Hancock's home city of Birmingham on March 6 when the show is performed at the Alexandra Theatre, followed by a trip to the nearby Lichfield Garrick on March 16. Hancock, who tragically took his own life in 1968, burst onto the airwaves of the BBC Light Programme in 1954 with a comedy show, unlike anything the British public had heard before. Playing a less successful version of himself, and surrounded by a 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.

Hancock's Half Hour
James Hurn as Tony Hancock (middle) with, left to right, 'Kenneth Williams', 'Bill Kerr', 'Hattie Jacques' and 'Sid James'


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 few decades. Now, 65 years after its first broadcast, Apollo Theatre Company - who recently produced UK tours of other classic radio comedies, The Goon Show and Round the Horne - will be bringing Hancock's Half Hour to the stage for the very first time in the form of three classic episodes of this hilarious show. The theatre show stars Dead Ringers impressionist James Hurn as 'the lad himself', Tony Hancock, with Colin Elmer reprising his role from Round the Horne as Kenneth Williams. They will be joined by a cast of brilliant actors who will help transport audiences to 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam.

Hancock's Half Hour, Colin Elmer, James Hurn
Colin Elmer (left) as Kenneth Williams and James Hurn as Hancock


Producer and director Tim Astley says: "Hancock's Half Hour was one of the greatest comedy shows of all time and it is truly an honour to be able to bring it to the stage. We are so used to sitcoms as a part of the comedy landscape these days that it is hard to imagine a time without them and to appreciate just how ground-breaking 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 and it cannot 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
Tony Hancock as seen on the theatre show's poster


TOUR DATES

28 January Richmond Theatre Richmond
31 Jan 2 Feb Salisbury Playhouse Salisbury
5-6 February Lighthouse Centre for the Arts Poole
7 February Theatre Royal Brighton
8 February Trinity Theatre Tunbridge Wells
10 February Orchard Theatre Dartford
12-13 February Octagon Theatre Yeovil
14 February Brewhouse Theatre Taunton
15 February South Hill Park Bracknell
16 February Epsom Playhouse Epsom
17 February White Rock Theatre Hastings
19-21 February Blakehay Theatre Weston-Super-Mare
22 February New Pavilions Teignmouth
24 February Hexagon Theatre Reading
26 February Key Theatre Peterborough
27 February New Theatre Royal Lincoln
28 Feb 2 March Theatre Royal Bury-St-Edmunds
3 March Waterside Theatre Aylesbury
5 March Victoria Hall Stoke
6 March New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
7 March Berry Theatre Hedge End
8-9 March Haymarket Basingstoke
10 March Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone
12 March Theatre Royal Wakefield
13-14 March Harrogate Theatre Harrogate
15 March Grand Opera House York
16 March Lichfield Garrick Lichfield
18-19 March Theatre Royal Windsor
20 March Churchill Theatre Bromley
21 March Norwich Playhouse Norwich
22-23 March Barn Theatre Southwick
24 March Theatre Royal Winchester
27 March Everyman Theatre Cheltenham
28 March Red House Theatre Plymouth
29 March Launceston Town Hall Launceston
31 March Royal Hippodrome Eastbourne
1 April Kings Theatre Portsmouth
2-3 April Capitol Theatre Horsham
4-6 April Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford
7 April Leicester Square Theatre London
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Why? Comedy Genius of Tony Hancock Brought To Live Stage
When: January 28 to April 7
Where: Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham B5 4DS
Cost: Price of shows varies
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