Alan Simpson RIP

February 8, 2017 at 6:37 pm (BBC, comedy, poetry, posted by JD, TV, wireless)

One half of the funniest – and most literary – comedy scriptwriting teams Britain has ever known, died today.

Foreword to the 2002 BBC box set of Hancock’s Half Hour, Series One
BBC Worldwide has asked us to contribute an introduction of 600 words to this boxed set of the first radio series of Hancock’s Half Hour. However on discovering that out of the 16 programmes in this series .the BBC have managed to lose six, our Union, the Writers Guild of Great Britain has instructed us to reduce the size of the article pro rata to approximately 400 words. This last sentence amounts to 68 words leaving 332 words to contribute. This latter sentence, amounting to 12 words, now only leaves 320. We could continue like this and not write anything at all but that would be churlish on our part. Thus leaving 290 words. Thus leaving…no let’s stop this silly counting game now.

So…if you are reading this it follows that you have bought the box — in which case, well done. Unless of course you have broken open the container and are therefore guilty of a misdemeanour which, if Mr Blair has his way, may result in an on-the-spot fine and a security guard marching you off to the nearest cashpoint.

Assuming you are a law-abiding citizen and are actually the legitimate owner of this set, may we wish you five hours of uninterrupted mirth and hilarity free of sexual references, innuendo, bad taste and all the good things of life that one wasn’t allowed to mention in 1954. A moral sensitivity made all the more remarkable when we were all under the threat of annihilation by a nuclear holocaust. Ironically, what one was then traditionally allowed to employ freely would now be considered racist, sexist and politically incorrect. In those days, sex was trying to make out the contour of a breast through the outside of a thick woollen coat, a recreational drug was half a pint of Mackeson’s milk stout whilst a hard drug was a quick sniff of a Vicks inhaler or a stiff swig from a bottle of Galloway’s cough mixture.

Nevertheless, we hope a new generation will enjoy the fruits of out labours of nearly half a century ago and try not to resist the urge to immediately rush out and order set number two and so keep us in the style to which we would like to become accustomed.

And so it is with great pleasure that we suggest you …

(At this point Mr Galton and Mr Simpson’s introduction was terminated on instructions from their Union.)


  1. Robert said,

    in a world littered with miserable clowns.

    Few indeed they are!

  2. Mick said,


    I’ve always adored their comedy, especially with far more of Galton and SImpson’s work now out on DVD and Youtube. Check out GALTON AND SIMPSON PLAYHOUSE.

    A lot of their material really wouldn’t pass PC muster. Especially by the 70s, their humour also had the girls and the dirty old men. But the dirty old men used to lose. (Though it’s truly barmy Til death Do Us Part, written by their friend Johnny Speight, was finally banned by the BBC in the 90s for offending the snowflakes. That show was as anti-racist as it got – though its far more potent brother series Curry And Chips was pulled after just six episodes because even the public of 1970 didn’t sit too well with it. But it is still very funny, even for a die hard racistfascistsexistxenophobe, as I supposedly am.)

    But back on topic, this guy really was a writer, along with his partner. At their peak, Galton and Simpson mixed slapstick, pathos, logos, irony, drama, deep insight, character and truly situation-based comedy. And flawlessly. Paul Merton proved such scripts still stood scrutiny 30 years on, and 20 years further today.

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