Look Back in Laughter: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson

Imagine writing lines so funny that millions of people have laughed with them for 60 years – and your radio scripts are still being broadcast half a century later?  Not many people fit into that category – Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote such a high standard of comedy scripts: “Hancock’s Half Hour” (which became a TV series), and “Steptoe and Son”.

The whole thing began in an inauspicious place – the two met in a TB Sanatorium, as young men, seriously ill.  Now fast forward to an interview half a century later…..

 

Slow Writers

In this interview (recommended for any wouldbe comedy writers) they explain their working, describing themselves as ‘slow writers’ (which is deeply encouraging to the rest of us)

“We had to sit and think all day.  Sometimes we’d go three days without writing a word”

In the video, you can trace their development as a comedy writing duo – they shared offices in the co-operative Writing Agency Associated London Scripts with fellow writers Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes.

Introduction to their work

UK listeners can still hear their radio performances cycling around the BBC.  If you check out BBC i-player, under radio, just type in “Hancock’s Half Hour” to find the radio shows, still running alongside Spike Milligan’s “Goons Show”.

There may be tributes to the duo’s writing in the next couple of weeks, to commemorate the passing of Ray Galton (Alan Simpson predeceased him last year).  So keep an eye on TV schedules near you, and on good newspaper obituary columns – such as this from the Guardian.

More about writing comedy

In another post on this blog, we trace the start of the next wave of comedy writers – and performers – after Galton and Simpson: Monty Python.

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