The Day Off - performed at the BFI

Tom Goodman-Hill gave a wonderful performance in The Day Off, as a luckless bus conductor – the role that would have been Tony Hancock’s – at the British Film Institute on Sunday evening, 29 January 2012. This was the first public reading of a script that was written more than half a century ago, in 1961.

The full story of how Hancock rejected the script appeared the same day, in a piece I wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

Others in the cast included Kevin Eldon, as the Man in the Park, and Susy Kane as Charlotte, the girl Tony falls for. The narrator was Emma Kennedy, and Morwenna Banks, Sara Pascoe, Norman Lovett and Alexander Kirk also featured. The adaptation for stage was by Jonathan Wakeham, and Bill Dare was the director. After the performance, Ray and Alan answered questions from the audience and were applauded with a standing ovation.

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson talk about the comedy of long drawn-out pauses

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson on BBC Radio Four's Broadcasting House (Sunday 22/1/12), talking about writing comedy for radio and cinema – how they drew laughter out of silences, and why they parted company with Tony Hancock at the peak of their success.
This fascinating interview also includes a preview of the premiere of their great lost movie, The Day Off, which will have its first full reading at the British Film Institute on London's South Bank on Sunday, January 29 2012. Tom Goodman-Hill stars as Tony Hancock.


The raspberry war

During my interview with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson in Stratford upon Avon on Wednesday 23 November, Ray told the tale of a raspberry-blowing war with Spike Milligan that very nearly ended in the death of Harry Secombe.

We had a great time at the Civic Hall, with a wonderful audience who were queueing up to ask questions at the end. Thanks to the organiser, Tim Raistrick, whose energy and tireless optimism made it all possible.


Oldie lunch

The rules of the Oldie lunch say speakers should talk for just ten minutes, but Barry Cryer put me at my ease in the bar before the event – “Don’t look at your watch,” he advised me. “Just stop talking if you see them yawning through gritted teeth!”

Here’s the speech I gave, at Simpson’s in the Strand, on 22 November 2011. My subject was Galton and Simpson, The Men Who Invented Sitcom... and Ray & Alan were sitting to my right, disagreeing cheerfully with the accolade. I couldn’t hear their whispers, but it turned out later that they were telling the Independent’s diarist that they didn’t invent the genre at all: they got the original idea from listening to AFN Stuttgart in the 40s. I refuse to accept that German radio dreamed up sitcom, so I shall continue to credit Ray and Alan with the invention.

Here’s the piece in the Indie, and here’s a podcast of the speech itself. If you think I sound nervous, you’re right!


Masters of Sitcom reviewed

Elaine Schollar of the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society has sent this review of Masters Of Sitcom to subscribers. That’s a tough audience for a book like this... most of the members can recite entire episodes! I’m delighted that Elaine rates it as a “must have”!

Writers' Forum

Kate Pain from Writer’s Forum magazine interviewed me about the process of submitting a book proposal to publishers. I told her how I had constructed the proposal for Masters Of Sitcom, and explained the key points that any book submission must include if it’s to convince an editor.

Click below to read the article.

writersforum1

Ray and Alan at Cheltenham Literary Festival

This is the tape of my conversation with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on Wednesday, 12 October 2011. It sounds like it was recorded in an echo chamber, underwater, with all the microphones set to maximum reverb. And the first 30 seconds are missing. Apart from that, it’s a masterful recording.

Ray and Alan were on great form, and the audience were marvellous, so if you’re a G&S fan it’s worth a listen, despite the poor sound quality.


Sunday Express review

Simon Brett reviews Masters Of Sitcom in the Sunday Express, 25 September 2011.

Spectator review

Marcus Berkmann in the Spectator reviews Galton and Simpson, The Masters of Sitcom: “A lovingly compiled and annotated selection of some of their best scripts … He has chosen well.”



Listen to my Interview with Steve Gilmour on Talk Radio Europe, about Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and Kenneth Williams too, broadcast on 6 September 2011.

National Theatre podcast

This is my recording of the book launch event at the Lyttelton Theatre, in the National Theatre on London’s South Bank, on Thursday 1 September 2011. It’s about 45 minutes long, and concludes with a deafening standing ovation.

The voice closer to the mike is Ray Galton’s. The slightly echoey voice, further away, is Alan Simpson’s.

Book launch at the National Theatre

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Ray Galton and Alan Simpson in their office at Associated London Scripts in the early sixties

A packed auditorium at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre gave Ray Galton and Alan Simpson a standing ovation on a memorable evening to launch their book Galton and Simpson: Masters of Sitcom, from Hancock to Steptoe.

During 45 minutes of conversation on stage, Ray and Alan reminisced about working with great comedians including Tony Hancock, Harry H Corbett, Sid James and Spike Milligan. “Spike used to do things like sticking his head round the bottom of the door and announcing, ‘Dere’s a midget here to see you!” Ray said.