(1961– )

News

Alan Simpson, writer of Steptoe and Son, dies aged 87

One half of the acclaimed screenwriting duo Galton and Simpson, who also wrote Hancock’s Half Hour, has died after a long battle with lung disease

Alan Simpson, famed for writing TV hits including Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, has died at the age of 87 after a battle with lung disease.

His manager Tessa Le Bars said: “Having had the privilege of working with Alan and Ray for over 50 years, the last 40 as agent, business manager and friend, and latterly as Alan’s companion and carer, I am deeply saddened to lose Alan after a brave battle with lung disease.”

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Jeremy Summers obituary

Television and film director known for the TV series The Saint and the 1963 film The Punch and Judy Man, starring Tony Hancock

Jeremy Summers, who has died aged 85, enjoyed a 40-year career as a director that went through several clearly defined phases. He made film comedies with Tony Hancock, Barbara Windsor and Ron Moody, as well as two screen musicals, and worked on the TV mogul Lew Grade’s action-adventure series aimed at British and Us markets. There were also films for the prolific low-budget producer Harry Alan Towers, and a string of other popular television series, then soaps.

With only one feature film behind him, he was entrusted to direct The Punch and Judy Man (1963), with Hancock in his second starring role for the cinema after phenomenal success on television with Hancock’s Half-Hour. However, the star had just left the BBC for ITV and dropped his writers, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

How Alien bracketed Tony Hancock and Quatermass | Letters

Clifford Hatts (Obituary, 25 September) designed many memorable productions for BBC Television, including Quatermass and the Pit. I wonder if he was also involved in what for me was more memorable – Hancock and the Pit, a spoof of the sci-fi serial.

I particularly recall an exchange in which Tony Hancock asks Sid James what he would do if an alien appeared. James says he would give it “a punch up the bracket”. “Has it occurred to you,” retorts Hancock, “that a Martian might not have a bracket to be punched up?”

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

How Alien bracketed Tony Hancock and Quatermass | Letters

Clifford Hatts (Obituary, 25 September) designed many memorable productions for BBC Television, including Quatermass and the Pit. I wonder if he was also involved in what for me was more memorable – Hancock and the Pit, a spoof of the sci-fi serial.

I particularly recall an exchange in which Tony Hancock asks Sid James what he would do if an alien appeared. James says he would give it “a punch up the bracket”. “Has it occurred to you,” retorts Hancock, “that a Martian might not have a bracket to be punched up?”

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Bill Kerr obituary

Australian actor and comedian who played Tony Hancock's good-natured lodger on radio and appeared in films such as The Dam Busters and Gallipoli

The actor and comedian Bill Kerr, who has died aged 92, was a master of laconic understatement. Having begun his British variety career in the late 1940s as "the boy from Wagga Wagga", he became a household name as a perfect foil for Tony Hancock in six series of the wildly popular BBC radio show Hancock's Half Hour (1954-59).

Playing Hancock's breezy and good-hearted Australian lodger, Kerr was often given the best lines by writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson because of his deadpan delivery. His main function was to relentlessly encourage Hancock's grandiose schemes, subsequently exploited by Sid James, only to be thwarted by the voice of officialdom (usually Kenneth Williams), or to suggest ludicrous ventures of his own, immediately pounced upon by the gullible Hancock: "You know,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Update: Global Showbiz Briefs: Dwa/Studio Mir Relationship Clarified; Veteran Aussie Actor Bill Kerr Dies; More

  • Deadline
Update: DreamWorks Animation has clarified statemens by Korea’s Studio Mir which were erroneously reported in the local press late last week. The company is in the process of working with Studio Mir to finalize a possible production agreement for one series, and has not inked a deal with Studio Mir for the latter to produce as many as four cartoon TV series during the next four years. Dwa says it would be engaging the studio on a work for hire basis, meaning it would not be a co-producer and would not gain any interest in Dwa’s intellectual property. The Korean animation studio is known for 2D fantasy series The Legend Of Korra, which airs Stateside on Nickelodeon.

Bill Kerr, the Australian actor known as “the boy from Wagga Wagga,” died Thursday in Perth. He was 92. Kerr was a radio and vaudeville star before moving to the UK in
See full article at Deadline »

Graham Stark obituary

Prolific comedy actor who worked with Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan and Hattie Jacques

The stony-faced, beaky comedy actor Graham Stark, who has died aged 91, is best remembered for his appearances alongside Peter Sellers, notably in the Pink Panther movies. His familiar face and voice, on television and radio, were part of the essential furniture in the sitting room of our popular culture for more than half a century. A stalwart in the national postwar comedy boom led by Sellers, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Dick Emery, Eric Sykes and Benny Hill, he worked with them all in a sort of unofficial supporting repertory company that also included Hattie Jacques, Deryck Guyler, Patricia Hayes and Arthur Mullard. He was also a man of surprising and various parts: child actor, trained dancer, film-maker, occasional writer, and dedicated and critically acclaimed photographer.

Like Gypsy Rose Lee, he had a resourceful and determined
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Graham Stark obituary

Prolific comedy actor who worked with Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan and Hattie Jacques

The stony-faced, beaky comedy actor Graham Stark, who has died aged 91, is best remembered for his appearances alongside Peter Sellers, notably in the Pink Panther movies. His familiar face and voice, on television and radio, were part of the essential furniture in the sitting room of our popular culture for more than half a century. A stalwart in the national postwar comedy boom led by Sellers, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, Dick Emery, Eric Sykes and Benny Hill, he worked with them all in a sort of unofficial supporting repertory company that also included Hattie Jacques, Deryck Guyler, Patricia Hayes and Arthur Mullard. He was also a man of surprising and various parts: child actor, trained dancer, film-maker, occasional writer, and dedicated and critically acclaimed photographer.

Like Gypsy Rose Lee, he had a resourceful and determined
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

My Hero – Ben Miller on Tony Hancock; Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth – TV review

Ben Miller gave us a profile of Tony Hancock with an unexpected depth of insight

Comedy does not, as a rule, age well. It's too precariously reliant on the subtle social bylaws of its time. If the way the characters speak has come to sound artificial, the joke is dead. If the punchline was transgressive then, but is no longer, no one will laugh. To understand a joke, we must be familiar with the serious rule set it is subverting. We need the context, the norms of the time. Which is why only total gits guffaw at Shakespeare plays.

It's also why I just don't "get" Tony Hancock. I can tell that, at the time, Hancock's Half Hour must have been hilarious. I can see why, if you watched it when it was broadcast, or within, say, the following decade, you might have chortled hot tea through your nose. But
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV highlights 27/08/2013

  • The Guardian - TV News
Football: Arsenal v Fenerbahce | Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show On Earth | The Midwives | Top Boy | Body Of Proof | Ray Donovan | Family Tree | My Hero: Ben Miller On Tony Hancock

Football: Arsenal v Fenerbahce

7.30pm, ITV

Perhaps the logical progression of modern corporate football, a defence as important as any centre-back partnership is due at the Court of Arbitration for Sport before tonight's match: a decision on the legality of Uefa's European ban on Fenerbahce. Away from the Lausanne courts, a place at Uefa's top table for the 16th consecutive season beckons for Arsenal, as does the unhappy distinction of being the first English side dumped out at the qualifying stage since Everton in 2005. Mark Jones

Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show On Earth

9pm, BBC4

Theatre in ancient Athens, argues classicist Michael Scott in this new series, wasn't just about entertainment. Rather, it developed in parallel with democracy, as writers
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

R.I.P. Frank Thornton

  • Deadline TV
R.I.P. Frank Thornton
Brit Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock in the long-running TV sitcom Are You Being Served? has died at his home in London. He was 92. Thornton played mainly comedic roles during his decades-long career, including Truly in Last Of The Summer Wine, but it was the role of Captain Stephen Peacock, a pompous department store floor manager, in Are You Being Served? that he is best remembered. The innuendo-laden sitcom ran for 13 years from 1972 and was based in the fictional London department store Grace Brothers. It became popular in the U.S. on PBS and BBC America. He also appeared in comedies Hancock’s Half Hour, The Goodies, Steptoe And Son, and The Benny Hill Show. His feature film credits include Carry On Screaming, No Sex Please, We’re British, Gosford Park and most recently Run For Your Wife.
See full article at Deadline TV »

David Morrissey wants Doctor Who anniversary role

Frank Thornton has died aged 92. The veteran actor, best known for his role as Captain Peacock in BBC comedy 'Are You Being Served?', died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday (16.03.13) at his home in Barnes, London - his agent David Daly has confirmed. David said: ''I have been Frank's agent since 1986 and he has been the most wonderful client as well as being a great friend. He will be sorely missed.'' Frank was also known for his character Truly in 'Last of the Summer Wine', as well as many other comedy roles in shows such as 'The Goodies' and 'Hancock's
See full article at Virgin Media - TV »

Tony Hancock lost work among rare radio scripts offered for sale

Script for fourth episode of 1955 show catalogued along with those for and by the likes of Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers

When Tony Hancock failed to turn up for three episodes of his radio show in 1955, producers simply replaced him with Harry Secombe as if nothing had happened. The fourth episode followed Hancock and Sid James as they travelled to Swansea to thank him – where they found him singing down a coalmine.

The recorded episode was wiped and continues to be lost, but the script – along with a host of others – has now emerged. They have been catalogued by the actor turned rare books dealer, Neil Pearson.

It is a true treasure trove, featuring scripts by and for comedy stars such as Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams. "It is a rather extraordinary and rather moving collection of material that reminds us of how we used to
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Hancock's half-finished: how Galton and Simpson revived their lost movie

They made TV history together and were planning their next film – until Tony Hancock rejected their script. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson reveal why The Day Off is now back on

The best review we ever had wasn't from a critic. It was from an artist, Lucian Freud. He said that The Rebel was the greatest film ever made about modern art. The 1961 movie was the first, and sadly the only, film we made with Tony Hancock. It's the story of an office clerk, played by Hancock, who believes himself to be a great but undiscovered artist. When he's fired from his job he moves to Paris, in the hope that the art world will recognise him for the genius he is. Of course, being Hancock, he's a terrible painter, but his ability to act like a genius persuades a group of fashionable young artists that he might be the real deal.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Hancock's half-finished: how Galton and Simpson revived their lost movie

They made TV history together and were planning their next film – until Tony Hancock rejected their script. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson reveal why The Day Off is now back on

The best review we ever had wasn't from a critic. It was from an artist, Lucian Freud. He said that The Rebel was the greatest film ever made about modern art. The 1961 movie was the first, and sadly the only, film we made with Tony Hancock. It's the story of an office clerk, played by Hancock, who believes himself to be a great but undiscovered artist. When he's fired from his job he moves to Paris, in the hope that the art world will recognise him for the genius he is. Of course, being Hancock, he's a terrible painter, but his ability to act like a genius persuades a group of fashionable young artists that he might be the real deal.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

June Whitfield: 'The main reason that I've worked for so long is because I'm no trouble'

As Ab Fab returns to our screens for a 20th anniversary special, June Whitfield talks about her six decades of work with the biggest names in the business

There's only one June Whitfield. This isn't a "broke-the-mould, don't-make-'em-like-her-any-more" platitude. It's more an expression of surprise. She is daintily small, elegant, and immediately recognisable, at 86, as all of the women she has been in seven decades of comedy.

In the 50s, at the birth of sitcom, Whitfield was the eternal fiancée Eth, coaxing her dozy Ron Glum towards the altar in radio's Take It From Here. In the 70s, she was the archetypal housewife in Terry and June, whose husband was a middle-aged schoolboy.

And since the 90s she has been Mother, the sweetly insane parent to Edina (Jennifer Saunders) in Absolutely Fabulous, with a tendency to kleptomania and a cruel innocence to her put-downs (Edina: "Inside of me, there's a
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Revealed: Tony Hancock screenplay that the troubled star turned down

The Day Off, by writing team Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, was unearthed during research for a new biography of the duo

They wrote some of the funniest, most memorable British comedy of the 20th century. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts for Tony Hancock had lines so brilliant, characters so absurd and jokes so sublime that they embedded themselves in the national consciousness.

Fans should prepare themselves for a treat, though, because the best may be yet to come. The Observer can reveal that Galton and Simpson completed a feature-length film script for Hancock that has never been made public. The Day Off, the gut-wrenching tale of a hapless bus conductor who just can't get anything right, has been hailed as a lost masterpiece and "the holy grail of comedy".

"It's probably the best thing they ever wrote," said Christopher Stevens, the author and journalist who stumbled on
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Revealed: Tony Hancock screenplay that the troubled star turned down

The Day Off, by writing team Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, was unearthed during research for a new biography of the duo

They wrote some of the funniest, most memorable British comedy of the 20th century. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts for Tony Hancock had lines so brilliant, characters so absurd and jokes so sublime that they embedded themselves in the national consciousness.

Fans should prepare themselves for a treat, though, because the best may be yet to come. The Observer can reveal that Galton and Simpson completed a feature-length film script for Hancock that has never been made public. The Day Off, the gut-wrenching tale of a hapless bus conductor who just can't get anything right, has been hailed as a lost masterpiece and "the holy grail of comedy".

"It's probably the best thing they ever wrote," said Christopher Stevens, the author and journalist who stumbled on
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Paul Massie obituary

Actor turned teacher, he quit the screen at the height of his fame

There are some actors who, having disappeared from the public gaze early in their careers, always prompt the question, "Whatever happened to ... ?" The answer, in the case of Paul Massie, who has died of lung cancer aged 78, is that, at the height of his fame on films and television, he gave it up at the age of 40 to teach drama at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The son of a Baptist minister, Massie was born Arthur Massé in the city of St Catharines, in the Niagara region of Ontario. Although he was brought up in Canada, almost his entire 16-year acting career was in Britain. In fact, the only film he made in Canada was his first, Philip Leacock's High Tide at Noon (1957), a Rank Organisation melodrama shot in Nova Scotia. Although it was a bit part,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Michel Roux's Service | Mary Portas: Secret Shopper | Will My Crash Diet Kill Me? | The Joy of Teen Sex | Hattie | Sons of Anarchy | Tonight's TV highlights

Michel Roux's Service | Mary Portas: Secret Shopper | Will My Crash Diet Kill Me? | The Joy of Teen Sex | Hattie | Sons of Anarchy

9pm, Channel 4

Michel Roux's Service; Mary Portas: Secret Shopper

8pm, BBC2; 9pm, Channel 4

Michel Roux and Mary Portas agree on one thing: customer service in the UK rarely involves more than a silent grimace and some barely disguised loathing. Both are on a mission to change that. The second week of Service sees the front-of-house wannabes step up from a high-street chain to a posher eatery, which attracts a fussier/more slappable clientele. Meanwhile, Portas makes the move to Channel 4 with a series of wigs and a hidden camera, taking customer complaints to the very top as well as supersizing her original Queen Of Shops formula to help struggling high-street chains sort themselves out. Rn

Will My Crash Diet Kill Me?

8pm, Channel 4
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

See also

External Sites