The Tony Hancock Special (TV Movie 1972) Poster

(1972 TV Movie)

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It really *is* that bad
Enoch Sneed26 February 2010
I found this on sale in a cheap book/CD/video shop in the UK a few years ago. Despite its reputation I thought I should make up my own mind and paid my money. Unfortunately its reputation as a sad and rather tawdry last gasp to what had been a great career is well-deserved.

The scripts are those of a sub-standard sitcom. The writer attempted to copy the style of Galton and Simpson (with their blessing), not just the self-important pomposity of the character but actual situations such as trying to find a particular plastic toy in a packet of cereal to complete a set. These work to Hancock's strengths but his performance only serves to show that the script and his skills are shadows of the glory days of ten years before.

As for the performances, Tony Hancock himself is the best performer in the cast but is well past his best. Apparently, after a disastrous pilot where he was out of it on drink and pills, he was told to dry out or else. He stayed sober until the night when he used vodka to take an overdose. His delivery is clear and crisp (not always the case in his last UK work) but his timing and reactions are slow and laborious (he is also obviously using auto-cues and his eyes are constantly glancing towards them, especially during monologues). Watching a scene played between Hancock and Don Crosby you feel like checking your watch while they pick up their cues. The Australian supporting cast are not in Hancock's class and give very stilted performances.

As 'trevorwomble' says, the three episodes Hancock filmed in May and June 1968 were finally transmitted as a 90 minute TV film in Australia in 1972. Giving it the title 'special' is just a cruel irony. When Tony's brother Roger saw the show he almost begged BBC and ITV not to buy it for broadcasting in the UK. Both organisations thought it amounted to grave robbery and wouldn't touch it. The video I bought had very poor picture quality and I have learned since it was probably taken from an unauthorised rough-cut. It doesn't really matter, because I didn't want to see it twice.
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How sad to see the great man reduced to doing this rubbish.
trevorwomble4 June 2008
Tony Hancock - possibly the first UK television comedy superstar (and comparable in stature to Phil Silvers for comic greatness). Yet by the time he made this show for Australian TV the magic had deserted him (as had Galton & Simpson). Hancocks best work was made 5-10 years before this stinker.

This show was intended to relaunch Hancock in Australia where he was already well known because of his BBC work. Written, produced and filmed in Oz this show has a great concept (Hancock emigrates down under to inflict his values and opinions on another culture) but is poorly executed. The scripts just didn't shine and the lad from East Cheam himself had lost his comic touch. Tony was intending to make a whole new series but died from a mixture of drink and prescription drugs during production of the series and only a handful of these Australian shows were completed. To be honest they just aren't funny and are a pale imitation of his hilarious BBC radio and TV shows. Hancock was a wonderfully droll and pessimistic comic but this series shows that without Galton & Simpson's brilliantly funny scripts (written specially for him when he was at the BBC) as a platform for his talents he was very much lost.

This series does have the novelty value of being made in colour (prior to this his TV shows were black and white) which was what pricked my curiosity to watch them. However there is also a sadness in watching a great comic actor struggle with such second rate scripts. Hancock died in 1968 so i'm not sure why IMDb has this series listed as 1972 (unless it wasn't transmitted until then).

Do yourself a favour and avoid this series. Get the CD's and DVD's of his BBC radio & TV shows instead. Even his films (The Rebel / The Punch & Judy man), despite being relatively mediocre are more watchable than this painful and sad attempt.
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