The book as object in Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's Hancock Half Hour episode 'The Missing Page'

Date

2016-06-14

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

2040-610X

Volume Title

Publisher

Routledge

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

In their scripts for the television and radio shows of Hancock's Half Hour, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (G+S) formulaically employed prolepsis to enable rapid composition of an ironic twist for each episode's ending. G+S were alert to the potentialities and limitations of the media in which they worked (first radio, then television) and their script for the episode The Missing Page explores the relationship between the plot of a cliff-hanging murder mystery and its physical embodiment in a book whose solution is on the last page. The murder mystery book entails no surprise (the villain will be unmasked) but pleasurably places the reader in the same position of incomplete knowledge as the detective, and all the more so when Hancock reads a mutilated copy lacking its last page. For G+S the relation between an idealized text and an imperfect physical embodiment of it finds an analogue in the relationship between Hancock's idealization of his world and the mundane reality to which he must always bathetically descend. In this, G+S anticipated recent anti-idealist scholarship on the ineluctable materiality of literary and dramatic works which can exist only as textualizations.

Description

Keywords

comedy, radio, television, 1950s, literary theory, authorship, materialism

Citation

Egan, G. (2016) The book as object in Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's Hancock Half Hour episode 'The Missing Page'. Comedy Studies, 7 (2), pp. 143-151

Rights

Research Institute

Institute of English