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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Observatory
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'What, him? An intellectual? That thing over there, lying on the ottoman scratching himself? That's your idea of an intellectual, is it? Well, heaven help us. The only thing he knows about books is how to run them.' - Tony Hancock talking about Sid James What now constitutes our idea of an intellectual? The dictionary definitions are broad-ranging but basically suggest a superior mind, or at least…
16 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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It seems we all enjoy stories about the Inarticulate Male. On TV they're never women, who might be clumsy ('Miranda') or venal ('Nighty Night'), but are never incoherent. Males, particularly funny ones, have a long history of being annoying and hard to understand, from British TV shows featuring forgetful, confusing Harry Worth and Charlie Drake's 'The Worker' ('I want to be a lady 'cause I ain't…
17 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Film
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Sometimes it's best not to revisit favourite old books, films and TV shows, but my eidetic mind requires that I keep a catalogue of everything that has influenced me - then ideally alphabetise it in storage boxes. Let's not go there. One's attitude to these favourite things can change over time. The comedian Tony Hancock, or rather the happy conjunction of the lugubrious comic and the work of his…
20 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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'...None in this country but all over the world!' That was Tony Hancock talking about the new lease of life ham radio hasn't given him, but he could have been talking about the internet. It's the anniversary of Tony Hancock's death today, so here's something I wrote on a past occasion; Some time back I wanted to write a book called 'Everything I Know I Learned From Tony Hancock', because the shows…
5 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Above, behold; London's air pollution. If you're visiting take a tip for the Japanese and bring a mask. Last month, the Chancellor and the Mayor announced a long-term plan for London. In essence, this consisted of the following wishlist: Secure London's strong economic future by outpacing the growth of New York, adding £6.4bn to the London economy by 2030. Create over half a million extra jobs in…
6 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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In this occasional series I revisit past blog entries with further comments. Recently I read Graham Mccann's 'Spike & Co', about the working life of Associated London Scripts, a company that included Eric Sykes, Johnny Speight, Spike Milligan and Galton & Simpson. As I get older I appreciate those last two more and more, especially for the lessons I learned about the almost musical cadences of…
2 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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The BBC gets a lot of stick about what it saved from the postwar years and what it wiped, but back then it was hard to know what would stand the test of time. They kept many Shakespearian productions which have often weathered badly and threw away daily ephemera, much of which is now fascinating for what it reveals about our society then. Nobody knew that the Tony Hancock shows would prove so…
6 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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BILL KERR: 'What does he mean, we're falling to bits?' TONY Hancock: 'Oh dear, look what you've done, you've set him off now. He'll be holding his breath and looking in the mirror every five minutes waiting for something to drop off. (Shouts) It's alright, Bill, you're ticking away like a mad thing. You've got a good six months left in you yet!' Bill Kerr was Britain's Australian (there was…
2 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Empires rise and fall, none mores than the music hall empires of old. The Hackney Empire was raised at the very start of the 20th century, a techno-marvel with central heating and electric lights. Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Marie Lloyd (a local girl) all appeared there, followed by Louis Armstrong, Tony Hancock, and Liberace. But by the time the Second World War ended, the days of music hall…
5 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Media
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BBC Radio 4 is to recreate lost episodes of 1950s radio sitcom Hancock's Half Hour, with a new cast including Pirates of the Caribbean actor Kevin McNally in the title role originally taken by the late Tony Hancock. The Missing Hancocks will consist of five of the 20 episodes missing from the BBC archives. They are to be broadcast in November to mark the 60th anniversary of the show's first…
7 comments

Years