When the Wind Changed: The Life and Death of Tony Hancock

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9780099609414: When the Wind Changed: The Life and Death of Tony Hancock

More than 30 years after his death Tony Hancock still enjoy's cult status. He has the distinction of being known simply by his surname- Hancock. The word defined not only the man but his art. Using a wealth of previously unpublished material, Cliff Goodwin reveals at last the man behind the myth.

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Review:

The story of Tony Hancock is well-known; East Cheam's most famous resident, star of classic episodes such as "The Blood Donor" and "The Radio Ham", the first British comedian to earn 1,000 pounds a week, whereupon he blew both his money and his dignity on drink before taking his own life in a flat in Australia in 1968 aged 44. It is the stuff of legend. Modern British comedians such as Paul Merton idolise him, characters such as Alan Partridge or Victor Meldrew still feast on his legacy. Cliff Goodwin's new biography adds flesh to the much pored-over bones to bulk out a life that seemed to define "doomed". In post-war Britain, Hancock tapped into a reserve of frustration and forlornness, and rather than act he learned to react. However, as is the way with such talent, success only begot dissatisfaction. A hard-headed belief that he could only emulate his hero Sid Field by working alone led him to sack the architects of his success, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, as well as the talented team of actors who contributed so crucially to the success of 'Hancock's Half Hour', particularly Sid James (a subject of Goodwin's last biography). His treatment of Galton and Simpson was masochistic; the scripts they wrote for him defined his comic being, and their mastery of colloquial nuance in the late 1950s was comparable to more "serious" writers for theatre such as Beckett and Pinter. He had little success with either films or America, and as the drinking increased so did the violence and anger, until he had pushed away or walked over any lover or friend who sought to help him. Goodwin has researched and read around his subject comprehensively, and he succeeds in shaping Hancock's life in a way the comic actor was never able himself. If his approach eschews too much interpretation, perhaps he is right not to analyse the man too deeply; it is a recognisably cautionary tale well-told, of a peculiar man who held the cup of plenty, but preferred a tankard of vodka. -- David Vincent

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Goodwin, Cliff
Published by Arrow Books (2000)
ISBN 10: 009960941X ISBN 13: 9780099609414
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Goodwin, Cliff
Published by Arrow Books (2000)
ISBN 10: 009960941X ISBN 13: 9780099609414
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