Hancock's Half Hour

BBC radio comedy, and later television comedy series

Hancock's Half Hour (1954–61) is a BBC sitcom, on radio and later television, written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. It starred Tony Hancock with Sid James; the radio version also co-starred Bill Kerr and Kenneth Williams and, for periods during the run, Moira Lister, Andrée Melly, and Hattie Jacques. In his final BBC television series, renamed as Hancock, he was the only regular performer.

Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock



Tony Hancock

  • Stone me!
  • [having emphatically disagreed with someone] He's right you know...
  • Eyes down for a full house.

Bill Kerr

  • Hiya Tubb!

Sid James

  • Hello boys! What can I do for you?

'Snide' (recurring Kenneth Williams character)

  • No, stop messing about!
  • Go on, be a devil!
  • Ooh, you are rotten.

Radio Series 1 (1954)


The First Night Party [1.1]


[first lines]

Announcer: Yes, this is the first night of the Lad's new radio series. Such occasions are usually marked by a small celebration of some sort, but Tony Hancock is really doing it in style - he's going to throw a cocktail and dinner party, so let's go over to Tony's flat in the English quarter of London's West End, where he and Bill Kerr are making the arrangements.
Hancock: [slow typewriter sounds] Hurry up, Kerr. Haven't you finished typing out those invitations yet?
Bill Kerr: Don't rush me, don't rush me.
Hancock: Might help if you took the gloves off...
Bill Kerr: My hands are cold. [pause] Anyway, what's wrong with typing in gloves? [pause] I like typing in gloves. [pause] Lots of people type in gloves.
Hancock: Not in boxing gloves.

Radio Series 2 (1955)


The Marrow Contest [2.11]

Usher: The court is now in session! Case of the Crown versus Hancock's Marrow, round two. Presiding judge Lord Chief Justice Fleming.
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: There are one or two points in this case that I should like to elucidate. Will Mayor James please stand up?
Sid James: Mornin' judge.
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: Your face is familiar! Haven't I seen you here before?
Sid James: Yes, Your Honour. Three times, all told.
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: Really?
Sid James: Yes. A six months, a not proven and a warning.
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: Well now, you wish to build a road through Mr Hancock's garden?
Sid James: That's it.
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: And he won't let you because he's got a marrow growing there.
Sid James: That's right.
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: Yes. Hmm. Yes. What is a marrow?
Sid James: Eh?
Lord Chief Justice Fleming: I always ask that. It gets me in the newspapers.

Television Series 2 (1957)


The Alpine Holiday [2.1]

Fellow Passenger: Windows on aeroplanes do not open. This is a pressurised cabin - if the windows opened the plane would explode!
Hancock: Well that's bad workmanship, old man.

Hancock: Well the Hun was throwing everything at me, three on my tail, I was looping the loop at a hundred and twenty miles an hour. Only one thing to do: I stepped out on the wing, controlling the plane with my feet, grabbed the bombs out of the racks and threw 'em at him! Did my victory roll over Hendon airport picking up handkerchiefs off the tarmac with my wing tips.

Hancock: This one nearer the window has the best view of the Swiss mountain scenery, which is the reason I'm here. Yes, this'll do. On the other hand, bloke in that bed gets his breakfast in bed first. Well, when you've seen one mountain you've seen the lot.

Radio Series 4 (1956-7)


The New Secretary [4.5]


Hancock's secretary has swapped two letters, potentially ending his career.

Hancock: Miss Pugh? I have reason to believe you've put one of your dainty plates in it again...

The Wild Man of the Woods [4.16]


Hancock has an announcement to make.

Bill Kerr: Can't we have the proclamation without the press?
Hancock: No, what I have to say concerns the world.
[door knock]
Hancock: Ah, mayhap that these are they...

Hancock: There is no happiness in this world today for a man of my intellect. So, I've decided the only solution is to become a recluse. I'm going back to nature! I'm going to renounce all my worldly goods and live in the woods...
Sid James: Where?
Hancock: Clapham Common. It's the easy living and false comforts of modern civilisation that are ruining mankind.
Reporter: Why have you picked Clapham Common?
Hancock: So I'll be near the shops.

Hancock: I am leaving this house, leaving society. I shall become a hermit.
Reporter: But, er, what are you going to live on Mr Hancock?
Hancock: Nature is bountiful, young man! I will eat the food she has provided! Berries, herbs, grass... he's right you know, what am I going to live on?

Hancock: I shall write poetry.
Bill: You don't mean that rubbish you scribble down in your diary every day?
Hancock: Rubbish? Rubbish? Philosophical gems, matey! Listen to this: Sonnet, by A. H.
Oh wond'rous moon with silvery sheen!
Who throws its light upon East Cheam
From lofty height, and through the mist
Two o'clock Friday, chiropodist.
How did that get in?! Where's the last line of my poem?
Griselda Pugh: I rubbed it out to make room for the chiropodist appointment. You know you can't get your boots on if you leave your corns for more than a week!

Hancock is being exploited as a tourist attraction by Sid, as The Wild Man of the Woods.

Hancock: I refuse to make a public exhibition of myself!
Bill: Hey! Hey Sid, look! What's that up there in the trees?
Sid: Ah nothing, probably a squirrel or something, now look, Hancock—
Bill: No, no it's not a sirrel S— [cast and audience descend into giggles]
Hancock: ... if Mr Kerr will say "it's not a sirrel Squid", then...

Television Series 3 (1957)


Air Steward Hancock [3.5]

Burly Plain-Clothes Policeman: How did you know we were policemen?
Hancock: I, er... I looked it up on the passenger list. I should never have known otherwise, you could be anybody: Cabinet Ministers or Italian footballers or Sadler's Wells ballet...

Sid James: The plane is still on the ground.
Hancock: So it is, so it is! Good grief, I'd better tell the pilot before he pulls the wheels up!

The Crown v James, S. [3.9]

Sir Jasper Worthington, Q.C.: Tell me Hancock, where did you study law?
Hancock: LCC evening classes, Sir. Second class diploma and nine out of ten for woodwork.

Hancock: Well, it was a mistake anybody could make.
Sir Jasper Worthington, Q.C.: A mistake? An important murder case and you turn up at the wrong court! You spend three hours making an impassioned plea for a life sentence on a man accused of passing betting slips in Hyde Park!

Hancock: How dare you! I shall sue you for libel!
Sir Jasper Worthington, Q.C.: Don't you mean 'slander'?
Hancock: Do I? Hang on a minute, no I don't, you can't catch me - 'slander' is setting fire to people.

Competitions: How To Win Money and Influence People [3.10]

Hancock: "Place in order the six best looking photographs of Jimmy Edwards." None of 'em much good here, are they? Still, if you haven't got the clay you can't make the pot...

Hancock: You remember that nine hundred thousand pounds I won?
Sid James: Oh yeah.
Hancock: Well I want two bob of it - I'm hungry!
Sid James: Hancock, we've been all over this before, boy - it's all tied up.
Hancock: I know it is! In little bags in your bedroom!

Radio Series 5 (1958)


The Male Suffragettes [5.3]

Hancock: When you were a boy weren't you ever taught table manners?
Bill Kerr: No.
Hancock: Why not?
Bill Kerr: We didn't have a table.

Hancock: Well well, look who it is. The Thing from Outer Kitchen. I gather from the clouds of blue smoke the sausages are ready?
Griselda Pugh: I'm employed as a secretary, not to provide breakfast for you two as soon as I get here. If you don't like my cooking, do it yourself. Here you are. [clatter]
Hancock: What are these then?
Griselda Pugh: Sausages!
Hancock: What, these little shrivelled up things with two black knobs on each end?
Griselda Pugh: They burst out of their skin.
Hancock: And pleased to get out, by the looks of things!

Hancock: I can't eat these, even if I wanted to I couldn't. You'd need a pair of nutcrackers to break these open.
Bill Kerr: I'll have yours, Tubb, if you don't want them.
Hancock: Here we are, the old waste bucket 'ere. I'm sure if you trod on his foot the top of his head would fly open.

Sunday Afternoon at Home [5.14]

Griselda Pugh: Ooh look! It's started raining!
Hancock: That's all we wanted. You watch, it'll go dark in a minute, we'll have to switch the lights on. I think I'll go to bed.
Griselda Pugh: [reproachfully] You've only been up an hour...
Hancock: That is by the way and nothing to do with it. I might just as well be in bed, there's nothing else to do. I wish I hadn't got up now. Your dinner wasn't worth getting up for, I'll tell you that for a start!
Griselda Pugh: Well I don't know, I ate all mine.
Hancock: That is neither here nor there. You also ate Bill's, and Sid's, and mine! I thought my mother was a bad cook but at least her gravy used to move about. Yours just sort of lies there and sets.
Griselda Pugh: That's the goodness in it!
Hancock: That's the half a pound of flour you put in it!

Kenneth Williams (Clark): Not a very nice afternoon, is it?
Hancock: No.
Kenneth Williams (Clark): It's raining you know.
Hancock: [sarcastically] Oh so that's what's making the roads wet.

Television Series 5 (1959)


Lord Byron Lived Here [5.3]

  • "I wish I were a chestnut tree,
a-nourished by the sun,
with twigs and leaves and branches,
and conkers by the ton."
Hancock: Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain? That brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten? Is all this to be forgotten?

Television Series 6 (1960)


The Missing Page [6.2]

Hancock: One can rush one's savouring of the classics of world literature - Rome was not built in a day and its decline and fall cannot be read in one.
Librarian: But you haven't got Gibbon's Decline and Fall there.
Hancock: That's got nothing to do with it - I've got The Love Lives of the Caesars here and that tells me everything!

Hancock is reading.
Hancock: Do you mind? I'm trying to read, don't interrupt! I'm on the edge of me seat here.
Sid James: Good, is it?
Hancock: Good? This is red hot, this is, mate. I'd hate to think of a book like this getting in the wrong hands. As soon as I've finished this I shall recommend they ban it.

Television Series 7 (Hancock) (1961)

Hancock: You've got Adam Faith earning ten times more than the prime minister. Now, is that right? Is that right? ... Then again, it depends whether you like Adam Faith and what your politics are.

Hancock: Do we get a badge for doing this?

Hancock: [to woman going to give blood] Just think, Cliff Richard might get some of yours! [to himself] That'll slow him down a bit...

Doctor: Where are you going?
Hancock: To have my tea and biscuits.
Doctor: I thought you came here to give some of your blood!
Hancock: You've just had it.
Doctor: But this is just a smear!
Hancock: It may be just a smear to you, mate, but it's life and death to some poor wretch!

Hancock: How much do you want then?
Doctor: Well, a pint, of course?
Hancock: A pint? Have you gone raving mad? [...] I mean, I came here in all good faith, to help my country. I don't mind giving a reasonable amount, but a pint? Why, that's very nearly an armful!

Doctor: You're AB negative.
Hancock: ...Is that bad?
Doctor: No, no - you're rhesus positive.
Hancock: Rhesus?! They're monkeys, aren't they? How dare you! What are you implying? I didn't come here to be insulted by a legalised vampire!

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