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Tony Hancock Appreciation Society heads to Bournemouth
SOME of the people behind Hancock’s finest half-hours will be in Bournemouth paying tribute to the comedy giant this weekend.
Actress June Whitfield and writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson will be in the resort when the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society holds its annual gathering on Sunday.
Ray Galton, 81, and Alan Simpson, 82, wrote 166 Hancock’s Half Hours for radio and television before going on to write Steptoe and Son.
June Whitfield, 86, was a veteran of the radio hit Take It From Here when she appeared in several of Hancock’s TV episodes – including the most famous of them all, The Blood Donor.
Dan Peat, president of the appreciation society, said he expected around 60 members at the Queens Hotel in Meyrick Road.
“People still come down from all over. Some come from Scotland,” he said.
He said members would get a chance to put questions to the celebrity guests.
He sees Galton and Simpson regularly and said they enjoyed coming to the events.
“They always make me laugh. Alan says ‘We’re still helping each other. He helps me up the stairs and I tell him what day it is’.”
Although Tony Hancock was born in Birmingham, he moved to Bournemouth at the age of three, when his family took over the Mayo Hygienic Laundry in Winton.
A year later, his family took over the running of the Railway Hotel in Holdenhurst Road, where the Asda car park now stands. After his father’s death, the family moved to the Swanmore Hotel in Gervis Road, renaming it the Durlston Court.
Hancock’s mother, Lil, lived in Bournemouth for the rest of the days, and Hancock was a frequent visitor. He tried out new material at the Winter Gardens in 1966 and visited Lil in the town in January 1968, less than six months before he committed suicide in Australia at the age of 44.
Last year, the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society unveiled a plaque at the Avon Social Club in Springbourne, where Hancock made his first professional appearance when it was the Labour Halls.
Bournemouth's links to comic genius
• Church of the Sacred Heart, Richmond Hill: Hancock made his first comedy appearance there at the Church Hall.
• Avon Social Club, Avon Road, Springbourne: Site of Hancock’s first professional performance in 1940.
• Marsham Court Hotel, Russell-Cotes Road: Hancock’s thrice-widowed mother Lillian was living here when she heard of his death in June 1968.
• Pavilion Theatre, Westover Road: Hancock regularly watched acts from the wings.
• Strouden Road, Bournemouth: The Hancock family ran the Mayor Hygienic Laundry here from 1929.
• Hotel Celebrity, Grove Road: Hancock lived with his stepfather and mother here for much of his childhood. They changed its name from the Swanmore to the Durlston Court – the same name as the prep school Tony attended in Swanage.