These articles look at Hancock related releases on record and cassette. It is not in strict chronological order as each version of a particular release has been listed under the date the first version was released. These days, with every radio and nearly every BBC half hour available to buy, it seems incredible that until the 1980's very few of the Radio Half Hours and TV shows were available to buy. In Roger Wilmut's book 'Tony Hancock Artiste', he states that all of the early records contained different permutations of approximately 6 hours of material from 24 different shows! On to the first release:
Pre-dating the earliest Hancock release by 2 years, this LP was released in the UK in 1958 having previously been released in South Africa. The best description can be found in the sleeve note: 'Moira Lister, the beautiful and talented South African actress whose performances in 'The Love of Four Colonels' and other productions in the West End and on Broadway have won her an ever-widening public, first introduced her programme 'People In Love" on Television. Subsequently she assembled her material into a one-woman show, and toured South Africa and Australia with great success. The four most popular stories from the stage show are reproduced on this record.' The stories are 'Her Son' by Jose d'Almeida, 'The Lady of Gollerus' by Thomas Crocker, The Chairmender by 'Guy de Maupassant and finally 'The Tell-tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe.
Released in Spring 1960, with a green and white striped cover, this very rare record was the first version of This Is Hancock. Side 1 of the LP contains The Wild Man of the Woods and Side 2 A Sunday Afternoon at Home. Both of the episodes were edited versions, with Side 1 running for approximately 28 minutes and Side 2 for 27 minutes. This LP was released at a time when the Radio series had finished and the sixth TV Series was being broadcast. The image of this album cover was sourced from the web: www.tonyhancock.org, but this website has since disappeared. We have therefore been unable to seek permission to reproduce this image here.
This second release of This is Hancock is a much more common version, with a light blue and white striped cover. Released on the Pye Plum label, early versions continued to feature the Pye Nixa labels. This later changed to the later plum coloured lable with the final versions featuring a much lighter label, which was almost pink in colour (both of the first 2 labels are illustrated). This album is identical in content to the previous This Is Hancock release.
This third version of This Is Hancock was manufactured and released in Australia. The blue stripes on the sleeve are a much brighter blue than on the UK release and the sticker on the front reads Astor Goldengroove Series. Again, content on this album is identical to the UK releases.
In common with all of the early albums, the final 1960's version was released on the Golden Guinea label on the basis that the price of the album was a guinea (One pound and a shilling or £1.05 in current currency). This release featured a similar cover design to the previous releases but this time with pink and white stripes and a photo from the photo sessions held for the 1961 album entitled 'Hancock' rather than a still from the TV Series as featured on the previous versions of this album. This was the last version of this album to be released.
Released in 1960 as a follow up to This Is Hancock, this release featured a series of extracts with specially recorded links featuring Tony. Side 1 featured The East Cheam Drama Festival, a 20 minute extract from the programme of the same name. The second extract on side 1 is a 9 minute extract entitled The Secret Life of Anthony Hancock. This 'Test Pilot' extract was from the programme The Diary and is probably the best known sequence from the Radio Half Hours owing to the number of times this extract was played on the Radio, especially during 'Stewpot's Choice', a weekend radio programme in the 70's. Side 2 features a 12 minute extract from The Publicity Photograph and a further 12 minute extract from The Threatening Letters. All of the extracts were heavily edited. The front sleeve features the same photo as on the main UK release of This Is Hancock and the jigsaw effect makes for an interesting cover. However, the reverse of the cover is interesting in that it contains a photo of all of the cast and underneath a numbered drawing intended to show who is who. Unfortunately, the names are all in the wrong place! Released on the Pye Plum label, early releases featured a dark plum label, which later changed to the almost pink label shown.
This second version of Pieces of Hancock was manufactured and released in Australia. Both the front and reverse of this cover are identical to the UK release other than the sticker on the front, which reads Astor Goldengroove Series and the Astor logo in the bottom left hand corner. Content on this album is identical to the UK release.
The final version of Pieces Of Hancock was released on the Golden Guinea label. However, for this Golden Guinea release, the sleeve was unchanged other than the addition of the 'A Golden Guinea Product' strapline at the top of the cover, unusually in red rather than the usual yellow. The reverse of the cover was different from the other releases and features adverts for other Golden Guinea releases, including Chubby Checker and Miki and Griff. This was the last Pieces Of Hancock release, which, has recently appeared on CD.
The third Pye release featured a brand new recording of The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham, recorded before an invited audience. Released in 1961, these recordings have been released in more different versions than any other Hancock recordings and continue to be available on CD and tape today. This article will include only vinyl and cassette releases. This first UK release originally featured a plum coloured label but this changed to a pink label on later releases (pictured) The album was the first to feature a specially posed photograph, rather than featuring stills from the TV Series
The Canadian version of this release featured an identical sleeve to the UK release other than the appearance of the wording Pye Astral and the record number on the front sleeve. The label on this release was red.
You could easily mistake this release for something it isn't! Other than the purple and white stripes, this looks like a different version of This Is Hancock but in fact it is the Australian version of the UK album Hancock and features The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham. The sticker on the front of the cover reads: 'Gold Star Series'.
The next UK release of Hancock saw this album following the same route as This Is Hancock and Pieces of Hancock with a Golden Guinea release. Featuring completely new artwork, this was the last 1960's release of this title. The inner sleeve featured adverts for many Golden Guinea releases including This Is Hancock and Steptoe and Son.
Released in 1970, the first budget release of The Blood Donor / The Radio Ham was effectively untitled with just the artist name and the title of the episodes on the front sleeve. The Marble Arch label was Pye's first foray into budget releases and many of Pye's older releases resurfaced on the Marble Arch label during this time. Growing out of the Golden Guinea series, it's not surprising that this release features the same photograph as on the Golden Guinea release and a very similar label.
The next budget release followed in 1973 and featured completely new artwork and a rather austere label! Interestingly the label featured both Hallmark and Marble Arch logos, which by 1973 were UK sub labels of the American Pickwick International Company.
A massive 17 years elapsed before the next release in 1990 on cassette. This release was also the first appearance of The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham on CD.
Released on both vinyl and cassette by Precision Records, this release featured the Pye studio remakes of The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham.
Released in 1994, this single cassette of The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham was released in a double cassette sized box with a plastic inlay to keep the cassette in place. This release was only available on cassette.
The final release of The Blood Donor and The Radio Ham in 1997 takes us full circle with this 'Pulse' release available on both CD and cassette, featuring the artwork from the original album and both episodes being digitally re-mastered. The CD Cover is illustrated.