Hancock: Season 1, Episode 2

The Bowmans (2 Jun. 1961)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 14 users  
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In a radio studio, they're doing an episode of the rural melodrama "The Bowmans"(a play on "The Archers"). Cast member Tony ad libs and can't keep in character. He's going to get sacked, so he tries to make the most of his final programme.


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Title: The Bowmans (02 Jun 1961)

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Episode credited cast:
Tony Hancock ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bruno Barnabe ...
BBC Official
Alec Bregonzi ...
Patrick Cargill ...
The Producer
Richard Carpenter ...
Old Ben Merryweather's friend
Constance Chapman ...
Gladys Bowman
Dennis Chinnery ...
Gwenda Ewen ...
Diane (as Gwenda Ewan)
Peter Glaze ...
Hugh Lloyd ...
Brian Oulton ...
Dan Bowman
Victor Platt ...
William Sherwood ...
Julian Court
Meadows White ...
Ralph Wilson ...
The Doctor


In a radio studio, they're doing an episode of the rural melodrama "The Bowmans"(a play on "The Archers"). Cast member Tony ad libs and can't keep in character. He's going to get sacked, so he tries to make the most of his final programme.

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Release Date:

2 June 1961 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


"The Bowmans" was a parody of long-running BBC Radio soap "The Archers". The character of Joshua was a reference to Walter Gabriel, who performed the same function in The Archers as Joshua does in The Bowmans. See more »

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User Reviews

"An everyday tale of simple folk!"
15 January 2011 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

A classic 'Hancock' episode from the star's final days at the B.B.C.

Tony is 'Old Joshua Merryweather' in the long-running country radio soap 'The Bowmans'. Though he has for years been one of its most popular characters, new research indicates that audience interest is waning, so Ronnie ( Patrick Cargill ), the producer, decides to kill Old Joshua by having him fall into a threshing machine. Hancock is livid, and tries to stay 'alive' by overacting wildly in what is supposed to be his death scene. Unemployed, Tony moves into the world of commercials, in particularly those for Grimsby Pilchards. Sales plummet. Just as things look bad for him, the B.B.C. is inundated with fan mail demanding 'Old Joshua's' return, so they reluctantly ask him to come back as the character's long-lost twin brother 'Old Ben'...

As you may have guessed, 'The Bowmans' is a parody of the B.B.C.'s 'The Archers' ( even the theme tune sounds similar ), with Old Joshua clearly patterned on Walter Gabriel ( Chris Gittins ), right down to the 'me old darling, me old beauty!'. Hancock's country accent leaves a lot to be desired - it is never the same two performances running, incorporating bits of Welsh and impersonations of Robert Newton's 'Long John Silver'. He also wears wellingtons, a hat and carries a stick to the recordings - strange considering this is a radio show. The episode takes a pop at the idiocies of soap operas, much of the humour is still surprisingly relevant. Characters continue to get bumped off to give ratings a lift. As I write this, 'Nigel Pargetter' ( Graham Seed ) has recently been killed off in 'The Archers' by falling off a roof as an anniversary treat. Not quite as stupid as the 'Coronation Street' tram crash, but close.

As Roger Wilmut noted in his excellent book on Tony Hancock, the episode has a slight plot flaw. Hancock's death scene would only have worked in a comedy context had the 'Bowmans' programme been going out live, but we later learn it was taped and broadcast a week or so later. It does not ruin the episode though.

Alongside Cargill, the supporting cast features reliables such as Brian Oulton, Constance Chapman, and Peter Glaze, the latter a familiar face from the B.B.C.'s 'Crackerjack!' in the '60's and '70's. Richard Carpenter is one of the 'Bowmans' cast - he later turned to writing and created the classic children's shows 'Catweazle' and 'The Ghosts Of Motley Hall'.

Funniest moment - Hancock does not get on at all with Harold ( Glaze ), the dog impersonator. So on his death bed, he calls for the animal to be buried alongside him! Glaze's expression is priceless!

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