Two previously lost radio scripts written for Birmingham-born comedian Tony Hancock are to receive their belated premiere at Wolverhampton’s Light House Media Centre on Saturday 4 November 2017.
Entitled Vacant Lot, the scripts were penned by now forgotten West Bromwich writer Larry Stephens in 1952 as the first starring vehicle for then rising star Hancock.
But the scripts were never produced – although actors such as Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and future Carry On lead Kenneth Connor were all mooted for roles – and lay buried in the BBC archives until recently, when they were unearthed by Stephen’s biographer, Julie Warren. It would be several years before Hancock had another opportunity to star in his own series.
Now forgotten, Stephens was a leading writer of the 1950s, penning material for many of the big shows and acts of the time, including The Goon Show (which he was instrumental in creating). But he died suddenly in 1959, and his reputation has since been overshadowed by other figures.
Vacant Lot will be performed by a full cast including Dead Ringers’ James Hurn as Hancock, Janice Connolly (best known for her own comic creation, Mrs Barbara Nice), and Linda Hargreaves (Raised By Wolves, The Morganna Robinson Show).
The show has been produced by Birmingham Comedy Festival’s own in-house theatre company, and also includes cast members from their acclaimed Goon Show touring production.
The Lost Hancocks: Vacant Lot can be seen at The Light House Media Centre, Wolverhampton, on Saturday 4 November 2017.
With performances at 2pm and 7pm, it’s accompanied by a Q&A with the cast and Larry Stephens’ biographer, Julie Warren, plus a screening of Hancock’s second (and final) feature film, The Punch and Judy Man.
For more information and ticket details see: bhamcomfest.co.uk
About Tony Hancock
A giant of post-war British comedy, Tony Hancock was born in Hall Green, Birmingham, in 1924, and raised in Bournemouth.
Moving from stage to radio, he appeared regularly in such popular BBC series as Workers’ Playtime, Variety Bandbox, Educating Archie and Calling All Forces, which featured material by young writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
The duo would go on to pen the seminal Hancock’s Half-Hour, which crossed over to TV in 1956 and firmly established the pompous self-righteous ‘Hancock’ character. But attempts to work with other writers and change direction during the sixties largely failed, and Hancock committed suicide in Australia in 1968.
Prior to Galton and Simpson, his main writer was Larry Stephens, who penned material for stage appearances, radio and TV for Hancock.
Hancock is honoured in Birmingham by a large statue on Corporation Street …
- The Lost Hancocks: Vacant Lot is a Birmingham Comedy Festival production for Funny Things: Making Wolves Laugh, which runs until Sunday 5 November 2017. The festival aims to celebrate Black Country humour with comedy, arts, music and film. Other events and activities include Joke Exchange, Funny Market, Stand-Up Challenge Showcase, Flatpack Films and pop up appearances from the Orchestra of Chaos. See funny-things.co.uk for full listings.