Not quite where it all began, but pretty darn close. Hancock’s Half Hour is another historic series that continues to be mentioned by all the giants of British comedy today as being a huge influence. Originally a BBC Radio series, the Hancock’s Half Hour television series, which gave rise to many of todays British comedy icons, was a late-50’s fixture on the BBC.
Often referred to as British television’s version of Sid Caesar, Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason combined, Tony Hancock played somewhat of a modified version of himself in the sitcom, much like Jack Benny in The Jack Benny Show. The series was written by the great Ray Galton and Alan Simpson who, after putting their genius to work on the 58 episodes of the HHH series, went on to another iconic series, Steptoe and Son (later remade as Sanford and Son in the United States). The way Galton and Simpson created “Anthony Aloysius St. John Hancock” whose name remained the same each week, but with a different profession, gave them unlimited scenarios in which to place Hancock. Different scenarios, but always the same portrayal of Hancock in the role of a basic loser.
If you aren’t familiar with Hancock’s Half Hour, check it out. It’s kind of cool to see how it all began.