Friday, 13 April 2018

'Hancock's Half Hour : The Economy Drive'



'Hancock's Half Hour : The Economy Drive'

A huge pile of milk bottles have taken up residence outside 23 Railway Cuttings as Tony and Sid arrive back from holiday, dressed in Yugoslavian garb.

The news that the doorkey is hanging on a string behind the letterbox does not go down well with Tony, who reckons there won't be any wallpaper left. Tony can see a mysterious figure with a bowler hat on that he concludes must be Raffles The Gentleman Crook...



Upon entering, they discover the vast collection of newpapers and magazines that have been delivered in their absence, including 'Film Fun' comic which actually featured Sid and Tony.

In the living room, all the lights have been blazing away for three months and the television is not just warmed-up, it's red-hot! Twenty-four 'Bilko's have been flashing around the room with no-one to watch 'em...



Tony goes up to his room to change and Sid hastily switches off the electric fire and  toaster that he suddenly notices are also on. He throws the toast out of the wide-open windows...

Tony returns demanding to know what Sid has just switched off. The electricity meter has grassed up Sid, with the little flat disc inside suddenly slowing down after hurtling round like a Catherine Wheel...

The washing machine was still going and all the water has long since evaporated and what has happened to the shirts we shall never know...



In fact, the telephone is the only thing Sid remembered to have cut off. The one item that costs nothing to leave on but does cost to have put back on again. Tony barely keeps a straight face during this exchange, one of those lovely moments that is a result of the conditions under which these episodes were made.

There is also a substantial amount of spare bread knocking about...



Tony's answer is to introduce a new regime of Austerity in the household, watching every penny, much to Sid's dismay. Tony references the immortal Mister Micawber (apparently talking to Oliver Copperfield in 'Bleak House' by Monica Dickens), pointing out that the states of Misery and Happiness can be a mere shilling apart.



Tony exits to buy a new suit at the Railway Lost Property office and there is the sound of dozens of milk bottles crashing to the ground...

We cut to a canteen where Tony intends to grab a cheap bite to eat, although he is not very familiar with the procedures involved in such an establishment. finding himself continually poked in the back whilst in the queue.



Faffing about attempting to clean the less-than-pristine cutlery, Tony loses contact with his tray which makes its own way without him.

Tony attempts to lob some items at his errant tray, but he's not the best of shots and this idea is wisely abandoned. Hancock is forced to queue up again as no-one is willing to let him in ahead of them.
He handles a bread roll (which is hard) and is told by the lady smoking a fag behind the counter that he must now take it, this being a hygienic establishment.



Faced with an array of little doors (just like 'Take Your Pick') operated by Liz Fraser (plus unseen friends), Tony is faced with a bewlidering choice of exotic delicacies, His preferred main course is plaice and chips (mind you, anything is better than mince and beans), but he is too late to that particular flap.



There's no option for lemon in his tea, and the grand total of four-and-fivepence is a shock to his austere system, having budgeted for only three bob.

Advised by Patricia Hayes to change his selection, he puts his main course back in its box. Sadly, there's one already in there, which gets pushed onto the floor, meaning that Tone's total is still four-and-fivepence.



He puts almost everything back, ending up with the bread roll plus some margarine, the one thing you can get for nothing at The Dorchester...



He drenches his roll in tomato sauce and salad cream, but when he turns his back it is whipped away by a keen waitress. Tony demands to know where his concotion has gone, thinking that the man sitting next to him must have swiped it. His graphic description of the component parts of his intended banquet upset the man, who rushes of, leaving his food behind. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Hancock discovers... the dreaded mince and beans.



Back at Railway Cuttings, Sid is not a happy man. There is only one light bulb on (40 watts) and the fire in the grate (one lump an hour) is barely smouldering. Tony's attempts at rolling his own fags seem doomed to failure.



Sid gives a rebellious speech, but Hancock will not be swayed, simply telling him not to walk up and down as it wears the carpet out.

They go up to bed, without a light to help them on their way and there is an almighty clattering sound and cries of pain.



We cut to the hospital ward, where Hancock seems quite happy, but Sid appears to mostly consist of bandages.



Apart from the pain and the agony, Tony is quite happy with all the money they have saved not being at home.

However, on being discharged they are faced with a bill of fifty guineas each as they have not had their Health Cards stamped for over three months. Hancock's tin box of money does not make it back home with them...



But what is waiting for them is more than a little familiar - milk, newspapers, bread... a cheery welcome from BBC Television.



Looks like the Austerity will have to last a little longer than originally forecast...

(By Andrew Trowbridge)

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