Hancock's Half Hour
The Very Best Episodes - Volume 3

Starring: Tony Hancock, Sid James, Bill Kerr, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN 0 563 50413 7
Available 04 September 2006

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson have chosen another selection of favourite episodes from the classic radio series, and written an introductory sleeve note to explain just why they love each one so much. Episodes include The Last of the McHancocks, The East Cheam Drama Festival, Visiting Day and The Threatening Letter...

This is the third in the Hancock's Half Hour: The Very Best Episodes series of CD releases to be brought out by the BBC.

First up we have The Last of the McHancocks which was first broadcast on 24 February 1957. This was the only recording in this collection that I was already very familiar with - having heard it quite a few times in a previous collection. Hancock is left a Scottish castle, but finds he has to contend with Bonnie Prince Sidney and Seamus McNasty who are both determined to claim that the castle belongs to them.

The second offering, and this collection's weakest episode, is The East Cheam Drama Festival. This was first broadcast on 8 April 1958. To be honest though there's hardly anything here that will raise a smile. In fact I have to admit that I had to listen to this more than once as my mind kept wandering. The episode sees Hancock trying to organise a major literary event. It's interesting purely because it's not your typical Hancock episode, but it doesn't really work as well as it could have. And the ending is so rushed that it seems like the whole thing was written in a hurry.

Visiting Day, which was first broadcast on 15 December 1959, takes place in a hospital. Hancock has had no visitors since he was admitted to hospital with a broken leg three weeks previously. He can't get any peace - a woman who is visiting her husband keeps annoying him; his leg starts to itch underneath the plaster; and Sid and Bill finally turn up to see how he's getting on, but drive Hancock to distraction. This is another enjoyable episode that showcases Hancock at its finest.

The final episode, The Threatening Letters, was originally broadcast on 27 May 1958, and is the best of the bunch in this collection. This sees Hancock receiving an item of post from a nutter who plans to kill him and a number of others people he has decided the world would be better without. Hancock has to content with a police officer who has just switched from night to day shift - and is having a problem adjusting - who also keeps arresting Hancock's friends in relation to the threat on his life.

As with previous volumes there are some interesting sleeve notes written by the show's original writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Another worthy addition to the Hancock stable - even if one of the episodes is well below par.

Pete Boomer

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