Written by Terry Nation, this week's Hancock, The Night Out, is a big improvement on the last couple of episodes I've looked at. I'm happy to say I even laughed out loud a few times. But while it's very funny stuff, there's also a a darker edge to it in retrospect. Hancock's timing's as supernaturally brilliant as ever here but he looks shockingly old and tired (he was just 38 when this series was made). Considering the episode concerns Hancock suffering from a massive hangover, though, this is probably quite appropriate - and we can even speculate that Hancock's new, short-cropped hairstyle (not in the least bit flattering) is the result of drunken decision making too. Knowledge of Hancock's real life drink problems at the time the show was made can't fail to cast a shadow over The Night Out.
For a change, this week's episode begins not with Hancock hanging out in the street, but with him waking up, distinctly the worse for wear, in bafflingly lavish surroundings.
Unable to remember anything from the night before, a perplexed Hancock groggily explores the posh pad he's somehow fetched up in.
|It's Mother Teresa. Or ET. You decide.|
The opportune arrival of a waiter furnishes Hancock with the information that he's in the honeymoon suite at the Metropole Hotel - just making things even more confusing. He only went out to celebrate his tobacconist's birthday. Hancock reasons that if he's in the honeymoon suite there must be a bride (the fact that he's unaccountably wearing a high heeled shoe also helps with this conclusion), and eventually he finds a sleeping beauty he takes to be his forgotten new wife. Especially with his newly shaved head, Hancock looks like a horror movie monster looming over her.
|"Oi, Missus, wake up! Dearest? Mrs Hancock? It's hubby! Wake up!"|
It swiftly turns out that the groom is not Hancock but a goofy young viscount played by Derek Nimmo, who met Hancock in a nightclub and suggested they all go back to the hotel together. Hancock begs Derek to assure him that he didn't misbehave himself the night before. The archetypal Hancock line "I can be a bit of a wag when I'm on the milk stout" may become a catchphrase of mine.
Despite Derek's assurances Hancock soon finds out that the previous night was not entirely free of embarrassment. For one thing he's acquired a new outfit from one of the chaps at the Parakeets Club.
|Hancock performs the "I'll Take You Home Kathleen Cha-Cha-Cha"|
And what's more, he brought the club's entire cabaret troupe back to the hotel too. He also seems to have got himself romantically involved with a gawky hotel maid (Patsy Smart, probably best remembered for giving her all to a brief role as a toothless ghoul in the Doctor Who story The Talons of Weng-Chiang). She seems to have acquired some very peculiar notions about Hancock's identity: "The things I said and the promises I made you, they can never be, Anton... I can never go with you to your father's castle in Russia."
|"Do I know you, Madam?"|
Hancock starts to enjoy the high life with his new acquaintances... until it becomes clear that they're all under the impression they're his guests. A horrified Hancock tries to convince the manager (It Ain't Half Hot, Mum's Donald Hewlett) there's been a mistake but he's expected to pay the princely sum of £143 for 13 people staying overnight. Hancock suggests a whipround to his guests...
... and quickly clears the room. Hewlett's sent the heavies up and there's only one thing our hero can do...
One thing I haven't yet mentioned about Hancock's ATV series is the wonderful, jazzy, happy-go-lucky theme tune by Derek Scott. Here's the long version released as a single, complete with interjections from the lad 'imself ("You cannot whack a bit of the old harpsichord!")