Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hancock's Half Hour

Aahhh.... thanks to the wonderful ABC Radio National for replaying these wonderful 50's British radio comedies! This mornings' episode was...

The Conjurer
Hancock's Half Hour (Radio)
Third Series - Programme 19

Hancock takes up conjuring, and is hired by Sid to give a performance at Dartmoor Prison - little suspecting that he is part of an escape plan.

Tony Hancock
Bill Kerr
Sidney James
Kenneth Williams
Andrée Melly
Alan Simpson

Hancock: "How's this sound - 'Tony Hancock, the working man's comic, clean but funny, ideal for Sunday concerts and cabaret, films, television, stage, garden parties, fetes, church concerts, buffalo lodge dinners and opening shops, own bike will travel anywhere. Past successes: Grimsby 1946 - juvenile lead in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame; 1947 - Ugly sister in "Cinderella" at Cleethorpes;1948 - - fourth pig in stage version of "Animal Farm"."

Bill: "You missed one, Tub: 1953 - the malignant growth in "The Quatermass Experiment".

Hancock's date book is so empty he's placing an ad. in the paper. Andrée suggests that his act is out of date and that he should try something new - a conjuring act. Hancock likes the idea and changes the ad. accordingly. No bookings come in, until he gets an offer to play Dartmoor Prison on behalf of the Prisoners' Aid Society, whose president is Sid James. Sid has already informed his accomplice Edwardian Fred (Kenneth Williams) that the prison concert is only a front for an escape bid through the magician's disappearing cabinet.

Hancock: "I've been practising, Sid, cards and rabbits out of hats and for a finale, I saw Bill in half."

Sid: "You want a disappearing act."

Hancock's finally convinced when Sid tells him he's had a special cabinet built for him with no floor in.

Hancock: "How do they disappear?"

Sid: "Through the floor's the way to go."

Hancock: "How do I get 'em back ?"

Sid: "You leave that to the next act - Governor Thompson and his performing bloodhounds."

At the station, Bill gets two and a half tickets.

Hancock: "Go and get a full ticket. I am not travelling on any more trains with me trousers rolled up and a lollipop in me mouth."

Andrée reads a newspaper article, which mentions an escape from Wormwood Scrubs of 45 convicts who climbed up a magician's trick Indian rope.

Hancock: "They've got a nerve, haven't they, shocking ... that magician's such a mug ... help me load me disappearing cabinet into the guard's van."

When they arrive at Dartmoor, Hancock meets convict 7321.

Hancock: "Sid, I thought you were the president of the Prisoners Aid?"

Sid: "I was. I was recaptured last night."

Later, Sid learns their escape plans have been rumbled, so he sends out a message to all prisoners - "Sid: Plan cancelled".

When Hancock asks for volunteers, nobody volunteers. Poor Hancock - his act is going to be a right mess-up tonight. Meanwhile Andrée and Bill are getting Hancock ready for the act.

Hancock: "They're a rough lot these prisoners and you know I'm not very good (The audience laughs and Hancock ad-libs) ... No opinions, please ... Bill, when I ask for a complete stranger from the audience if you're not first up on that stage, the first thing to disappear tonight will be me."

The act begins.

Hancock: "Greetings, fellow mortals. (jeers) Thank you. I bring you magic from many lands. Magic whereby, with a quick flick of the right wrist ... I ... I produce ... with a quick shake of the arm, I ... rolling up my sleeve ... er ... shoving me left hand up me right sleeve ... giving a slight pull ... a slight ... giving a quick jerk ... I triumphantly produce a piece of ripped shirt."

Hancock performs a card trick.

Snide: "I know how he does it."

Hancock: "Good evening, Sir - Warder, keep that man quiet."

Snide ends up on stage and Hancock makes him disappear through the cabinet, and then Bill, and finally in the absence of any more from the audience, Hancock goes into the cabinet himself.

(FX dogs barking) Hancock: "Faster. The dogs are catching up."

Bill: "What happened?"

Hancock: "They think we've escaped."

Snide: "This is most embarrassing for me."

Hancock: "Why?"

Snide: "I'm the governor."

Hancock: "But you're wearing a convict's uniform."

Snide: "Well, you don't like to be stand-offish."

Hancock: "Well, if you're the governor, call the dogs off."

Snide: "I can't, they don't like me."

Hancock: "I don't blame 'em."
Transmitted: Wednesday February 22nd,1956 at 2000, BBC Light Programme.
Repeated: Sunday February 26th, 1956 at 1700, BBC Light Programme
Recorded: the previous Sunday, February 19th, 1956
Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Music by Wally Stott
Produced by Dennis Main Wilson.


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