Tony Hancock and co will be brought to life at South Hill Park this month thanks to the Apollo Theatre Company, writes Peter Anderson
Hancock fans will be delighted to see the lad himself, of 23, Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, and his motley crew Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Sid James when the company who toured productions of the Goon Show and Round the Horne in recent years bring their next show on tour.
Producer and director Tim Astley says: “Hancock’s Half Hour was one of the greatest comedy shows of all time and it is truly an honour to be able to bring it to the stage. We are so used to sitcoms as a part of the comedy landscape these days that it is hard to imagine a time without them and to appreciate just how ground-breaking the show was when it came along in 1954.”
“Being a radio comedy show, these characters and their world largely exist in people’s imaginations and this show, which recreates the BBC recording studio of the 1950s, gives audiences a chance to see them brought to life like never before and will create a unique experience for fans both old and new.” The show stars Dead Ringers impressionist James Hurn as Tony Hancock and Colin Elmer reprising his role from Round the Horne as Kenneth Williams, alongside a cast of brilliant actors who will bring to life the stars of yesteryear.
I wondered how James went about creating both Tony, and his other impressions “As with any character, I start from the ground up, I watch their body language, facial expressions, tempo this will then lead to timing, delivery of a line and overall characterisation. So how did you James discover his talent? “Just like most children I loved to laugh, I used to find great pleasure in watching classic comedies such as Laurel and Hardy, Will Hay, the Three Stooges and many more. So, when it came to having the opportunity to perform in a school play or musical I would often be cast in the comical role. So, I guess it was at this time that I discovered I was able to make people laugh with a facial expression, a tumble or an ad-lib.
As for what the audience can look forward to, he says “On any given night the audience can expect two hours of pure comedy gold. The writing is superb and that is why it has stood the test of time for over 60 years. We have a great cast that will bring back memories for those who remember the originals and create memories for those hearing it for the first time. “Hancock’s Half Hour” can be seen at South Hill Park on 24th February.