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Tony Hancock's days in radio were definitely his best. This doesn't take anything away from his physical comedy, but everything just seemed to gel with Hancock and his supporting stars when they were on radio. Therefore, having purchased two "lost" TV episodes preserved in a dodgy audio format, I was delighted to see some radio episodes had also been unearthed. There are two radio CDs available, although seeing as all previous Hancock radio tapes and CDs contained four episodes I don't see why they all couldn't be contained in a double-pack. Sadly the sound quality, like that of the recovered TV soundtrack, isn't very good, but somehow more forgivable.
The episodes contained here, "Sid's Dad" and "The Diet", come from the fourth and third series respectively. This is coming into an era most beloved of the majority of Hancock fans. Unfortunately Hattie Jacques hadn't come into the picture yet, but Hancock, Sid James and Bill Kerr had established their characters and relationships, and Kenneth Williams were set as the resident character actor. We see Williams here playing the part of Sid James's apparently oblivious father who comes to stay with Hancock, as his son covers his regular court appearances with the lie that he is judge. As you can imagine, it's a fun exercise with Hancock and Bill doing their best to cover for Sid only to discover that the apple might have not fallen that far from the tree.
"The Diet" is an interesting inclusion, as it seems to have been partly recycled in the fifth season for "The Publicity Photograph", an episode that was released with the BBC's first 10 Hancock audio tapes. Here Hancock desperately tries to lose weight to get the part in a movie whilst his rival, Bill Kerr, is told to put it on. Meanwhile Sid James, in his normal fashion, takes advantage of the hapless too with his revolutionary diet plan. Often when I listen to Hancock (and future Steptoe and Son) writers, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's wry observations of the fads of their times - and we're talking the mid-50s here - it is amazing to see how little human society has changed. Fad diets were a focus of a book I read this year "Fads and Fallacies" by Martin Gardner, again written in the 1950s, and its astounding to see the same unscientific nonsense is still be trawled out in women's magazines and so-called health books. Galton and Simpson were very aware of the quackery going on and Sid James has routinely been used as a vehicle to send it all up.
As I previously mentioned, the sound quality is pretty poor, which is only highlighted by the much superior quality of the inserted theme, incidental and link music. This obvious later insertion was done with the re-release and later release of the original 10 Hancock tapes and CDs, but the process was far less noticeable. However, as annoying as it is I am just grateful that these episodes have been recovered and they now reside in my collection. Although these aren't the best episodes, they're still very good and better than the TV recordings. If you can put up with the bad sound quality by cranking your volume up to the max, then I would say it is a worthwhile buy.