Tag Archives: BBC Audiobooks

On The Margin CD Review

JUST a quick note to say you can read my review of BBC Audiobooks’ excellent On The Margin release over at comedy website Chortle.

It’s a great release and is strongly recommended to those who like their humour with a touch of the sophistical (after all, it IS Alan Bennett). Read it here.


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More Missing Hancock Set For Release

THIS year is turning out to be a treat for fans of Hancock’s Half Hour, with two new releases featuring missing episodes set to hit the shops in time for Christmas.

Hancock: The Lost Radio Episodes: Sid James’s Dad and The Diet is due out on November 5th 2009, according to Amazon.co.uk – the same day as Hancock: The ‘Lost’ TV Episodes: The Horror Serial and The Beauty Contest.

Both CDs have sourced their recordings from the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society (read an earlier story on the recovery of the TV episode soundtracks here). The THAS also holds a poor-quality recording of the radio series’ season three episode “How Hancock Won The War”.

The soon-to-be released radio episodes, “The Diet” and “Sid James’s Dad”, come from series three and four respectively and with the latter recording’s return, series four is now complete.

In “The Diet”, tx 7/12/55, Hancock is too fat for the part he is playing in a film, so he goes on a diet – and to the Turkish Baths. In “Sid James’s Dad”, tx 28/10/56, Sid is expecting a visit from his father, and, being ashamed to admit his true profession, has explained his appearances in court by telling the old man he is a judge. (Plot synopsises courtesy of www.railwaycuttings.co.uk)

  • Hancock: The Lost Radio Episodes: Sid James’s Dad and The Diet is available for pre-order on Amazon here, priced £8.80. The CD features an expanded sleeve note explaining how the episodes came to be released.

Hancock: The ‘Lost’ TV Episodes: The Horror Serial and The Beauty Contest includes two restored off-air audio recordings from series four of the TV show.

In “The Horror Serial”, tx 30/01/59, Hancock is in a nervous state after watching the last episode of Quatermass and the Pit on TV, especially when he discovers a strange object buried in his garden. Sid calls in the Army Bomb Disposal Squad, but Hancock is convinced that it is a Martian spaceship. It features John Le Mesurier and Hugh Lloyd.

In “The Beauty Contest”, tx 20/02/59, Hancock and Sid enter the council’s ‘Mr East Cheam’ contest. Naturally, both Hancock and Sid see themselves as natural winners. Hancock writer Alan Simpson appears in this episode.

  • Hancock: The ‘Lost’ TV Episodes: The Horror Serial and The Beauty Contest is available for pre-order over at Play.com, priced £6.99.

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No Longer On The Margin Thanks To BBC Audio

onthemargin SKETCHES from acclaimed writer Alan Bennett’s first and only  full-blown comedy series are to be released in October by BBC Audiobooks.

Six-part show On The Margin, which aired from September 9th to December 14th, 1966, featured satirical, political and musical sketches written and performed by Bennett, who had risen to fame as part of the legendary Beyond The Fringe revue show, which also featured luminaries Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller.

Bennett was joined by a regular cast including John Sergeant, later to become the BBC’s chief political correspondent, and Virginia Stride, best-remembered as the seductive Liz Champion in BBC weekly drama series Champion House (1967 – 8). The series also featured Yvonne Gillan, Madge Hindle and Roland MacLeod.

Despite proving a popular and critical hit and getting two repeats in 1967, the second seeing the show move from BBC2 to BBC1, On The Margin is now known mainly as one of the high-profile losses of the BBC’s wiping policy.

Only one filmed insert remains to represent the series visually. However, a number of audio excerpts are also known to exist and these have been compiled by BBC Audiobooks for an exciting new CD scheduled for release in October.

Alan Bennett’s On The Margin, due out October 8th, will at least give a taste for what the show must have been like. No details of the track titles or running time have yet been revealed but an idea of the type of comedy to expect can be gleaned from BFI Screenonline’s guide to the show:

“Each instalment featured a mixture of sketches (some foreshadowing Bennett’s subsequent television dramas, others mocking television clichés, such as documentaries about working-class Northern writers and discussion programmes featuring pretentious critics), the quasi-soap ‘Streets Ahead: Life and Times in NW1’ (about a supposedly upwardly mobile Camden couple) and, more unexpectedly, serious poetry and music slots incorporating readings by Michael Hordern and Prunella Scales and archive footage of music-hall stars. This personalised nostalgic element distinguished On the Margin from other sketch shows, with Bennett’s satirical swipes at contemporary Britain integrated with his entirely genuine love of its cultural heritage.”

Alan Bennett’s On The Margin is currently available for pre-order on Play.com, priced £5.99.

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Heads Up For Hancock Release!

The first of two CD releases featuring the soundtracks to missing TV episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour comes out at the start of July.

The season four episodes – “The Flight of the Red Shadow” (tx 23/01/1959) and “The Wrong Man” (tx 06/03/1959) – are released by BBC Audiobooks as a two-CD set on July 2, 2009,and are currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

In “The Flight of the Red Shadow” (aka “Desert Song”), Hancock is on the run from disgruntled members of the East Cheam Repertory Company. In order to escape, Hancock is forced to masquerade as the Maharaja of Renjipur, with disastrous consequences.

“The Wrong Man” sees Hancock and Sid called in to take part in a police identity parade. However, when a witness picks Hancock out for the burglary of a high street tobacconist, he has only days to clear his name.

In addition to series regulars Tony Hancock and Sid James, “The Flight of the Red Shadow” features Rolf Harris and small walk-ons for series creators/writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Simpson also appears briefly in “The Wrong Man”.

In total, 26 episodes of the TV version of Hancock’s Half Hour (1956 – 61) are missing, all from the first four seasons.

Before season five, HHH went out live and, sadly, the majority were never telerecorded.

Thankfully, some forward-thinking fans made off-air home recordings at the time.

Those soundtracks were returned by the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society to the BBC in late 2008 and consisted of the recordings featured on the forthcoming CD alongside further season four episodes: “Underpaid! Or, Grandad’s SOS” (tx 02/01/59); “The Horror Serial” (tx 30/01/59); “Matrimony Almost” (tx 13/02/59); and “The Beauty Contest” (tx 20/02/59).

A follow-up CD, featuring “The Horror Serial” and “The Beauty Contest”, is scheduled for November, and is also available for pre-order from Amazon here.

Both CDs will include explained sleeve notes explaining how the episodes came to be released.

Unfortunately though, according to comedy website Chortle the remaining two soundtracks may be too poor quality to ever get issued commercially.

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Hancock’s Half Hour Article/CD Releases Update

I have written an article about the recent discovery of soundtracks to six missing TV episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour for comedy website Chortle. You can read it by clicking here.

In addition to the forthcoming release of ‘The Flight of the Red Shadow’/’The Wrong Man’ in July – available for pre-order from the BBC Shop here – a second CD set containing the soundtracks to missing episodes ‘The Horror Serial’/’The Beauty Contest’ is scheduled to be released by BBC Audiobooks in November 2009.

Both CDs will feature restored versions of the soundtracks and especially-written sleeve notes.

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