The are many that believe comedy, British comedy in particular, began with Tony Hancock and the brilliant, Hancock’s Half Hour. The original BBC Radio series and subsequent BBC television series of the same name from the mid-50’s is thought to be, by many, the beginning of the British sitcom introducing “situation” into the comedy mix as opposed to the, then, traditional sketch comedy that was prevalent on the BBC.
Many stars that are in British situation comedy today will point to Hancock’s Half Hour, written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, as being an instrumental part of where they today are in the world of comedy. Galton and Sampson, who also the classic, Steptoe and Son, are the subjects of a new book that released yesterday called The Masters of Sitcom: From Hancock to Steptoe by Christopher Stevens.
It was in the research for the book that Stevens uncovered a ‘lost’ screenplay of what would have been Hancock’s second feature film, following the release of “The Rebel” in 1961. The Day Off was to star Hancock as a luckless bus conductor. Sadly, the newly discovered script will probably remain just that, a script. According to writer, Alan Simpson, the writers would have to “get it out and reread it” before they would even consider consenting to it being filmed today.
Galton & Simpson: Masters of Sitcom
Ray Galton and Alan Simpson are considered to be two of the most influential television scriptwriters in the industry creating two of the most successful sitcoms ever made in Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe and Son are two of the most successful sitcoms ever made. Written in collaboration with Galton and Simpson, Christopher Stevens was granted exclusive access to their personal archive of scripts. There are some really choice comments on their own lifetime of writing, in addition to providing a behind the scenes understanding of the craft of television writing.
Hancock’s Half Hour: Twelve Angry Men
Now that you’ve finished your summer reading, time to begin that Fall reading list. If you’re interested in the history of British comedy, this would be a great one to put on the list.