[HANCOCK, Tony] STUCKEY, Hugh and WALE, Michael

[The] Tony Hancock Special: Director's Post-Production Script.

N.p. [Sydney]: N.p. [ATN-7], 1968

80 mimeographed pp. on white paper, housed in contemporary black springback binder with three labels to front cover ('HANCOCK'; 'TONY HANCOCK SPECIAL'; 'POST PRODUCTION MASTER SCRIPT E.D. JOFFE'). Profusely annotated, revised and corrected on every page, typed inserts tipped in in many places, and scene tags taped to leading edges. Scene tags browned, some wear to binder at spine, but contents extremely well preserved.


In March 1968 Tony Hancock travelled to Australia to make a television series with the working title Hancock Down Under, a project he hoped would revive his career. He had recently been divorced, his alcoholism was out of control, and his prospects in the UK had sunk to nothing. But the Australian series had serious problems from the outset, quite apart from Hancock's own. The scripts were terrible: feebly structured, hopelessly unfunny, and with no understanding of what made Hancock Hancock. The star would have struggled to make anything of them even in his pomp. The series' fate was sealed by the decision to shoot without a studio audience. Hancock's onscreen persona -- hapless, loveless, forever on the receiving end -- had always been kept afloat by the presence of supportive laughter provided by an audience willing their hero to dust himself down and try again. And Hancock himself, Hancock the brilliant but under-confident performer, had always been buoyed by the instant approval their presence provided. But here, in this final footage, Hancock seems to have been deserted by his audience just when he needed them most. He cuts a lonely, tragic and desperately unfunny figure. Unable to remember his lines, his eyes are constantly looking for his cue cards. He seems to be searching for his friends.

On 24 June 1968, with only three episodes of the showcompleted, Hancock committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates. Although work to salvage something from the series began almost immediately -- the title page of this script is dated 1968 -- the show itself wasn't screened until 1972.

A key artefact from the production of the very last show of Tony Hancock's career.

Keywords: Tony HANCOCK Hugh STUCKEY Michael WALE"


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