© Words Laurence Marcus
Tony Hancock had been appearing in just such a radio, 'All-Star Bill', when the series producer, Roy Speer was taken ill. His replacement, Dennis Main Wilson, unhappy with the shows content, enlisted the writing talents of two relatively unknown, but talented newcomers, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Then in 1953, Galton and Simpson, knowing that the BBC were anxious to give Hancock his own starring vehicle, came up with the concept of a rather pompous character who would hold court in a bed-sit somewhere in London. The show would be centred around the character's hopes and misadventures, and would star other comedians but be devoid of catchphrases, silly voices or musical numbers.
© Words Laurence Marcus.
With his battered features, wicked leer and possibly the most recognisable laugh in show business, Sid James appeared to the world as a streetwise Cockney ex-heavyweight boxer, an image that he actively encouraged because he knew that it would endear him to millions of fans worldwide. But Sid was no more an East End boy than he was a fighter. "Nobody could ever think of me as a star, " Sid once said. " All I can do is play myself." But being 'himself' was all he needed, because Sid James was loved by millions worldwide, and when he tragically died on stage at the Sunderland Empire on 26th April 1976, the world lost a unique talent.
© Words Simon Wells
By 1962, Tony Hancock had been absorbed into the role of the nation’s favourite comedian. The comedian’s morose dejection was in its own way, as contemporary to his day as Johnny Rotten or Liam Gallagher was to theirs. ‘Ridiculous!’ I hear you say, but rather true in fact. Take a look if you don’t believe me. Remember though, during this era of cold, post-war austerity no one previously had dared to display such affront.