Here’s another post to add to my series on Being English.
I can’t tell how younger people respond to the masterly oeuvre of Tony Hancock. My generation is perhaps the last that remembers the original programmes; like Brief encounter, Beyond the fringe, or the Hoffnung speeches, it seems to belong to a bygone age. Rappers are less likely to be aware of, or respond to, such works than are the aging BBC Radio 4 demographic.
Among the wealth of original broadcasts, Hancock’s disgruntled persona is justly celebrated in The blood donor:
But in recent years there have been several projects to recreate episodes (both radio and TV) for which no tapes survive, with the aid of scripts—an exercise more reliable than recreating Daoist ritual from the manuals. As with listening to early music, one tends to discern contemporary spin on the urtext. Of course, in this case—by contrast to the lack of recordings of Bach performing his own music—we can compare the original.
In the recent series The missing Hancocks the episode Prime Minister Hancock (after the 1955 original), performed with a fine feeling for period style, is particularly topical. His campaign speech (from 10.11) could have been written yesterday, alas: