The Missing Page

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"The Missing Page" is an episode from the comedy series Hancock's Half Hour, starring British comedian Tony Hancock and also featuring regular co-star Sid James. First transmitted on 11 March 1960, the show was written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and was produced by Duncan Wood.

Synopsis[edit]

Anthony Hancock has taken up reading and claims to be familiar with the works of Bertrand Russell, although in reality his preferred reading matter is crime fiction.

He borrows a book from the library, the murder mystery Lady, Don't Fall Backwards by Darcy Sarto, and back at 23 Railway Cuttings proceeds to provide Sid with a running commentary on the plot whilst reading it. Sid is impatient to know the identity of the killer, but Hancock assures him this is always revealed on the last page. However, when Hancock reaches the end he finds the last page has been torn out. Hancock is initially dismayed but then insists that it should be possible for Sid and himself to work out the identity of the killer using the clues provided by the author - however their attempts at deduction prove fruitless.

Returning the book to the library - and angrily denying the librarian's suggestion that Hancock himself is the vandal - Hancock finds out the address of the last reader to borrow the book several years previously, a Mr Procter, hoping that he will know the answer. However it transpires that the page was already missing from the book when Procter read it, and Procter becomes agitated on being reminded of the unsolved mystery.

Still undeterred, Hancock visits the author's house, only to find a plaque stating that Darcy Sarto has died. Finally he visits the British Museum, reasoning that they must have a copy since every book published in the United Kingdom is stored there. At the Museum a copy of Lady, Don't Fall Backwards is found with all of its pages intact - however, the last page contains not the end of the story but instead a note stating that Sarto died before completing it, and that the unfinished book had been published anyway as being of interest to Sarto's fans. Disgusted, Hancock declares he will never read a book again and will instead take up a new hobby - the gramophone.

Back at home later, Hancock has purchased his audio equipment and Sid returns from having purchased some records, but Hancock is unamused by Sid's choice of music - Schubert's Unfinished Symphony.

Decca re-recording[edit]

In 1965 Decca Records produced an audio remake of "The Missing Page", together with a remake of "The Reunion Party" from the same series. These were produced in the style of the radio shows, complete with an invited studio audience, and released as an LP in 1965. These recordings marked the last time that Tony Hancock and Sid James worked together.[1]

Paul Merton remake[edit]

A remake starring Paul Merton in the Hancock role was broadcast on ITV on 23 February 1996 as part of the series Paul Merton in Galton & Simpson's...

In popular culture[edit]

Echo and the Bunnymen wrote and recorded a song titled "Lady Don't Fall Backwards" as the B-side to their 1990 single "Enlighten Me".

Pete Doherty wrote the song "Lady, Don't Fall Backwards" and performed it for a BBC documentary "The Unknown Hancock" in 2005 [2]. The song appears on his album Grace/Wastelands.

The quarterly magazine of the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society is called 'The Missing Page'.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tony Hancock Appreciation Society - Hancock on Record and Cassette
  2. ^ "Pete Doherty in Hancock tribute". NME. Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. 2005-12-21. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  3. ^ http://www.tonyhancock.org.uk/

External links[edit]