Friday, February 15, 2008

"No, before him, surely?"

Certain exchanges in comedy attain the dream-like quality of poetry. I've been able to recite this scene since I can remember. The section that begins with "Are you a doctor then?" and ends with the discussion about Mussolini is one of the most beautiful examples of writing and acting I've ever come across. Aren't they making another film about Hancock? I don't know why they bother. What's interesting about him is here, for all to see, for ever.


  1. Anonymous1:38 pm

    Is this the place to recite my theory as to how Hancock and Frasier Crane are basically the same character?

    I'll get me coat...

  2. You're on the money, Dave. I used Hugh Lloyd's line "Life would be intolerable if we knew everything" to end one of my books, as it's always stayed with me.

    Two interesting things:

    1) I'm not sure you'd be allowed to write a scene in a modern sitcom (and Hancock was as popular as My Family and Only Fools combined in its day) in which two characters, one of them a non-regular, who just talk for minutes on end. The wine gums line is a pay-off of sorts, but would be adjudged to be a bit weak to carry a whole scene.

    2) This is not even Hancock on all cylinders, reading many of those great lines off cue cards (a fact that, once you know it, almost undermines your pleasure of watching it, until you realise that he's so good he can turn reading off cue cards into immortal TV comedy).

    Oh, and Hugh Lloyd is still alive. He's 85. And was last seen in ... My Family.