21st century audience treated to showcase of legendary comedian
THE spirit of Tony Hancock triumphed and captivated an audience during a performance of two "lost" episodes of the eponymously titled Hancock's Half Hour.
Nearly 60 years after being first broadcast on radio and TV, they offered a 21st century audience the chance to savour a legendary comedian.
Hambledon Productions, a professional local theatre company, secured the rights and the blessing of famous scriptwriters Galton and Simpson to make this remarkable opportunity possible.
They also enticed Jonathan Rigby, an actor with West End stage success, to serve as their director.
The first episode, A Winter's Tale, saw the theatre in Franklin College transformed into a 1950's BBC Light Entertainment radio studio.
In a nice twist, we travelled back in time and became the audience at that original live broadcast, receiving a briefing from the producer and able to watch the sound effects technician at work.
John Hewer, co-founder of Hambledon Productions, played "the lad himself" as he went on "olliday" to Brighton with predictably disastrous results.
For the second episode, The Italian Maid, curtains opened to reveal the TV stage set of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam and further mayhem followed as Hancock fought to win Silvana's (Amy Holmes) attention.
To my mind, John Hewer superbly captured Hancock's mannerisms, his disdainful looks, intonation of voice and that sense of pomposity that so endeared him to audiences.
Former Franklin College student Christian Darwood stepped into shoes once occupied by Kenneth Williams, delivering an instantly familiar nasal twang.
Meanwhile, Simon Weeds gave us an authentic sounding Australian accent for Bill Kerr, and Luke Adamson captured Sid James' signature laugh.
Six decades on, this new generation of actors successfully revived memories of stars from yesteryear, the non-stop laughter testimony to their performance and the enduring freshness of scripts that repel the passage of time.