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Birmingham Comedy Festival, 6-15 October 2017

Saturday 4 November 2017

The Lost Hancocks:
Vacant Lot

Two long-lost radio scripts from the 1950s, written for comedian Tony Hancock by acclaimed comedy writer Larry Stephens.

In 1952, West Bromwich-born Larry Stephens (The Goon Show, The Army Game) convinced the BBC to let him create a new comedy series for his friend, rising radio star Tony Hancock (Workers' Playtime, Variety Bandbox, Educating Archie).

Entitled Vacant Lot, the series focused on life in the dull faded fictional seaside town of Churdley Bay, where the blundering, slightly pompous and barely tolerated Hancock aspires to better his lot.

Despite featuring a supporting cast of colourful characters (and with such actors as Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Carry On’s Kenneth Connor all mooted for roles), Vacant Lot lay buried in the BBC archives … until now.

Recently rediscovered, we proudly present the much belated premiere of a forgotten slice of British comedy history from two West Midland comedy heroes.

The Light House Media Centre, The Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT
Tel: 01902 716 055
2pm and 7pm
All Tickets: £12.
BUY NOW: [ 2pm matinee ] | [ 7pm evening ]
Available from Midland Box Office - 0870 320 7000; and The Light House - 01902 716055

Larry Stephens

In addition to Vacant Lot we also present a chance to find out more about the project with the team behind the performance as well as a rare screening of Hancock's final feature film.

Q&A: The Lost Hancocks
3.30pm, £1, [ BUY NOW ]

Find out more about The Lost Hancocks, the story behind their original creation and eventual rediscovery, as well as their belated staging, 65 years after they were conceived.

With members of the cast and project team, along with Larry Stephens’ biographer (and cousin) Julie Warren, who discovered the Vacant Lot scripts in the BBC's archives.

Julie's book, Glarnies, Green Berets and Goons: The Life and Legacy of Larry Stephens, tells the full story of the Black Country boy who helped reshape post-war British comedy, and will be published soon.

The Punch & Judy Man

The Punch and Judy Man
4.40pm, £5 [ BUY NOW ]

Cert: U, 1962, approx 90mins. Starring Tony Hancock, Sylvia Syms, Ronald Fraser, John Le Mesurier, Hugh Lloyd. Directed by Jeremy Summers. Written by Philip Oakes and Tony Hancock.

In a snobbish seaside resort, Delia (Syms), the wife of Punch and Judy man Wally (Hancock), dreams of social acceptance. So when he’s invited perform at a celebration gala attended by Lady Jane Caterham (Barbara Murray), it looks like Delia may get her wish. But the sullen Wally refuses ...

Based on an idea by Hancock, his second (and final) big-screen starring role is filled with echoes of his own life - from the south coast location (a background shared with The Lost Hancocks: Vacant Lot), to marriage difficulties.

An understated and introspective comedy, ripe for reappraisal.

"Hancock's finest celluloid hour-and-a-half" - TimeOut

James Hurn, Janice Connolly, Richard Usher, Linda Hargreaves, Mark Earby & Jimm Rennie

Production Credits

James Hurn (Tony Hancock) is an actor, comedy writer and impressionist, best known for BBC2’s Dead Ringers, Band Of Brothers, and the voices of David Beckham and Prince William in BBC Radio 4's The Bid. His numerous theatre roles include the West End production of The 39 Steps playing over 24+ characters. He's currently touring two shows: Hancock's Half Hour, One Man, Many Voices, and Hancock and Co.

Janice Connolly is probably best known for her comedy creation Barbara Nice, though is an experienced actress in her own right. Artistic director of Women and Theatre for over 30 years her performance work includes Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, Coronation Street, The New Vic’s A Taste Of Honey, and Birmingham Rep's Tartuffe and Anita And Me.

Mark Earby is a versatile character actor, who has appeared in productions ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary drama, including the Olivier award-winning comedy Stones In His Pockets. In Feb' 2017 he recreated Spike Milligan's characters in Birmingham Comedy Festival's The Goon Show.

Linda Hargreaves is a professional actress with numerous TV and film credits including Doctors, Vera, Raised By Wolves, The Morgana Robinson Show, and 4 0’Clock Club. She also writes, produces and performs her own character comedy shows which she's staged at Edinburgh Fringe, Birmingham and Manchester comedy festivals.

Jimm Rennie appeared in several modern mummer-style street theatre plays and touring shows before making his Fringe debut in 2016 with SMARTarts' Paper In My Pants. Jimm previously appeared in the Birmingham Comedy Festival's The Goon Show (2014) as Harry Secombe.

Richard Usher is a voice-over artist, actor, writer, podcaster, sound designer and tutor whose clients include the BBC. His stage work includes Birmingham Comedy Festival's The Goon Show (2014 & 2017,) in which he recreated Peter Sellers' characters.

Dave Freak (Producer etc) has worked with a variety of arts org's, festivals and media companies including B'ham Comedy Festival, Moseley Folk, THSH, Stan's Cafe, The Glee Club, Wolves Art Gallery, Express & Star, and the BBC. In 2014 he bought The Goon Show to the stage, reviving the show in 2017.

Nick Wiltshire (Musician) is a pianist and double bass player, recently retired from full-time music teaching. He is currently building an off-grid campsite for green musicians. He recently toured in the ‘house band’ for Birmingham Comedy Festival production of The Goon Show (2017).

Adam Jaremko (Tech) is used to sitting behind a laptop, spending his Thursday nights in the shadows at The Glee Club's Comedy Carousel.

Larry Stephens (Writer).

With thanks to Julie Warren (additional material, Ep2).

Supporting The Commandos’ Benevolent Fund.

© Copyright - Birmingham Comedy Festival 2017.