Tony Hancock made his first appearance on radio on 6th June 1941 in a programme called A La Carte. This half hour programme was described as "a mixed menu of light fare" and was broadcast from Bristol. Tony didn't make a return appearance until 1948 when he appeared in a programme called 'New to You' with Derek Scott.
Between 1949 and 1951 Hancock made many appearances on 'Variety Bandbox' (the first being on 9th January 1949), 'Flotsam Follies' in 1950 and Kaleidoscope in 1951 as well as numerous one-off appearances. It was during 1951 (between August and December) that Hancock made a weekly (latterly fortnightly) appearance in 'Happy-Go-Lucky' in a self-contained sketch called the 'Eager Beavers' alongside Peter Butterworth, Graham Stark and Bill Kerr. This series was not well received and Ray Galton and Alan Simpson were called in to write the last 6 scripts to try to improve the ratings. This was Tony's introduction to Ray and Alan although they did not write for him in this series as the Eager Beavers sketch was contracted to other writers.
At the same time (between August 1951 and January 1952) Tony appeared as Archie Andrew's tutor in the second series of Educating Archie. Written by Eric Sykes and Sid Colin, the series ran to 26 episodes.
Hancock's next regular appearances were in Calling All Forces during 1952. During its run it changed its name to Forces All-Star Bill and finally Star Bill. Early scripts were by Bob Monkhouse and Denis Goodwin but, once again, Galton & Simpson were asked to write the last 6 scripts because the writers were on holiday. From the second series in 1953, Galton & Simpson became the main writers with the final programme being broadcast on 2nd May 1954. 2 sketches from episode 4 of the second series of Star Bill on 21/3/1954 are in the BBC archive. By November in the same year, the very first edition of a new show 'Hancock's Half Hour' would be broadcast and full details of these broadcasts can be found on the links above.
Once Hancock's Half Hour finished on the radio on 29/12/59, so ended Tony's radio career. Tony made few other radio appearances, with most appearances being interviews. One notable exception was 'Ancock's Anthology, broadcast on 25/12/64 in which Hancock talked, read from Stephen Leacock and A.A. Milne, introduced records and interviewed Stirling Moss. An off-air recording of this programme is available to hire from the Society's CD library (no 55) available for Society Members.
Over the last few years, since the advent of Radio 7 (now Radio 4 Extra),there have been weekly repeats of Hancock's Half Hour and occasional polls of favourite episodes. These always seem to result in the same 2 episodes being neck-and-neck for the title of favourite episode. These are 'A Sunday Afternoon at Home' and 'The Wild Man Of The Woods'. So have these been the most repeated episodes over the years? The short answer is no! Prior to the advent of Radio 7, the most repeated episode was 'Hancock In The Police' (10 times) with 'The Threatening Letters' equal second with 'A Sunday Afternoon At Home' and 4 other episodes on 8 repeats. 'The 'Wild Man Of The Woods' had only been repeated 5 times. Interestingly, in a Post Radio 7 world, the most repeated episode (as at March 2012) was 'The Threatening Letters' on 20 repeats.
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