No Hancock

I have written before about how much I enjoy Hancock’s Half Hour on the radio. It was one of the first radio comedy series to almost completely abolish silly voices, apart from Kenneth Williams doing his usual stuff. There were no musical interludes, no special guests (except as part of the plot) and there was an attempt at realism, with humour coming from the situation, especially so towards the end.

Season two was a problem as Hancock himself had walked out of his London show and was a no show for the recordings, so Harry Secombe was drafted in. Three full programmes (plus one partial) were recorded with the Goon Show star before Hancock returned.

Many of the early Hancock episodes are lost, apparently. But the scripts are still around, and attempts have been made to re-record them with current actors and modern methods.

Three cd box sets of these ‘missing’ Hancock’s now exist, and the BBC has broadcast them. They seem to be popular. 15 episodes in total.

They are funny, sometimes exceptionally so, but they don’t bear repeated listens. The actors involved make little real effort to re-create the original actors, even though they are named (eg “Kevin Eldon as Bill Kerr”) and the voices are rather jarring. In the early Hancock shows the pace was rather more frenetic than the later series, but the whole set is rather unconvincing.

The scripts shine through, however.

Fort Boyard

Television is pretty dismal right now in the UK. There is only one thing I watch regularly that I enjoy watching, and that is actually French. It is the original series of Fort Boyard.

FB has been running since about 1990, and has changed in detail but not in the basics. You may have your own country version of it, but the French is the one I get here (initially on TV5Europe but now it’s also on YouTube).

So you have teams working through rooms in the fort doing games, collecting keys and clues in order to get the chance to gather Boyards (gold coins) for their charity.

Compared with the UK version (that I know) and sanitised the UK Crystal Maze, it’s very sadistic and rather gritty. Snakes, spiders and inedible food abound. As do haunted puppets.

The French in it can be relatively basic (I think it technically counts as a children’s programme) , so, with my O Level French, I can mostly follow what they are saying. And there’s lots of English anyway. Even if you don’t understand exactly, mostly it’s obvious and the more than two hour running time passes quickly. And it makes me laugh.

Look it up on YouTube. Or, the 2017 season is on TV5Europe.