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Tony Hancock Show, The (1956-57)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Episode 6, tx. 1st June 1956

Hancock conducts an auction, selling the contents of the series - scripts, supporting cast, and props. Breaking off to welcome viewers, he dons sunglasses earmarking a showgirl for himself and breaks into a Mr Punch routine. The auction resumes. He acquires a trio of showgirls and then starts auctioning a camera. John Vere tries to stop him so Hancock covers the camera lens in order to "sort out" Vere off-screen. With vision restored, Hancock has come off worst. The sketch, 'Death of a Duchess' is announced.

Hancock, as 'Parrot', discovers the corpse is Clive Dunn in drag and not June Whitfield, whose absence is linked back to the auction. The cast have humorously subverted roles: Hattie Jacques is a gamekeeper and Vere a 4 year-old. Hancock isn't happy and leads them to the auction set as "unexpected lot 19" until they give way. Hancock entreats the audience to enjoy the commercials whilst he has a "kip".

The sketch, an Agatha Christie country house murder parody, resumes with Parrot interrogating staff - the butler (Vere) and the gamekeeper (Dunn). Apparently elderly, the gamekeeper worked previously for the Chatterley family, and is only 28. In flashbacks there are a number of failed (but funny) attempts on the Duchess' s (Hattie Jacques) life, by the Duke(Hancock). Returning to the present, Parrot denounces the killer as a previously unseen character (Valentine Dyall), who is appalled that the corpse isn't June Whitfield (likewise Hattie had been promised Olivier), which gives Hancock another auction reference, claiming both had been sold, Olivier to a "Miss Monroe".

As the cast exit behind a curtain, Hancock starts to close, hinting that the plot would be stolen, possibly by Agatha Christie, when Clive Dunn interrupts, telling him that the cast have a gift for him to mark the final show. They present him with a strange string sculpture. Seeing his doubtful reaction Hattie reminds him that the present, not its value, is important, whereupon he starts to read the decreasing donor amounts, rounding off with "Jack Hylton - best wishes". He announces the return of the show hopefully in November, and mouths "what is it?" (indicating the sculpture) as the scene fades and the credits roll.