Hancock brought back to life

Classic comedy scripts remade

Classic comedy scripts including Tony Hancock’s The Blood Donor are to be remade for radio with a cast of new comics.

Veteran writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson are rejigging four of their old shows for a new series for Radio Two, and hope to attract the likes of Peter Kay and Ricky Gervais to take part.

But the original lines may have to be toned down as the BBC fears further fallout over levels of bad taste in the wake of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s phone calls to Andrew Sachs.

Simpson, 79, told Chortle: ‘We’re doing four radio shows for Radio Two, adaptations of our old stuff, and they’re already worried about certain aspects in the light of this Jonathan Ross thing.

‘We’re doing four of the originals, and we’re recasting, trying to get more modern performers. Nothing’s finalised, we’re in the process of trying to get the usual suspects; Peter Kay, Ricky Gervais and so on. It depends if they are available.’

The other scripts they are adapting are Impasse, about two stubborn drivers who meet head-on in a narrow country lane; You’ll Never Walk Alone, about football fans who try to persuade non-devotees to accompany them to the FA Cup Final; and I Tell You It’s Burt Reynolds, about a man convinced he’s seen a Hollywood star in a TV potboiler.

Impasse and Burt Reynolds have both been remade previously, as part of the Paul Merton in Galton & Simpson’s… ITV series in 1996.

Simpson said he was looking forward to the Radio Two series, set to be recorded later this month, because: ‘It gives us a chance to work with new people.’

Galton, 78, said he was still a fan of radio comedy. ‘One that knocks me out is Count Arthur Strong,’ he said. ‘It’s so old fashioned and it makes me laugh, I must say. A lot of the clever stuff you admire it, but I do laugh at Arthur Strong. His comedy is malapropisms, and you think they’re corny, and that’s been done for years, but he does make it funny. That’s a very interesting new comedy insofar as it’s a throwback.’

The pair were talking to promote two new DVD releases. Click here to read the full interview.

Published: 13 Jan 2009

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