The Rail Strike
BBC 7 Comedy: Hancock's Half Hour (Radio)
Second Series - Programme 8
With no trains running due to a national rail strike, Sid and Hancock run their own train - pulled by the original "Rocket", stolen from the Science Museum.
We open to the sound of a steam train rattling by - "Just thought you'd like to hear one again." says Hancock to an audience in the grip of a national rail strike.
Sid reckons that the current strike means they can make some money by providing the public with transport. Bill has his doubts, in view of the fact that the only transport they have is a bike and a pair of roller skates. Sid thinks that they can run their own train but Hancock is doubtful, especially as they haven't got a train.
Sid: "I know where we can get an engine, no trouble at all, leave it to your Uncle Sidney."
Meanwhile, we learn that George Stephenson's Rocket has been stolen from the South Kensington Science Museum. Later, Sid brings along the train he has acquired.
Sid: "What do you think?"
Hancock: "What is it?"
Sid: "It's a railway engine."
The only problem now is that they need some rolling stock, of the carriage variety. They improvise with a pram, a bath tub and Hancock's bed for the sleeping car. Sid wonders how they should class them.
Hancock: "Pram - 1st Class; bath tub: wide end, 1st Class - middle, 2nd Class and in the taps and over the plug hole, 3rd Class."
Now they need a dining car, so Sid obliges with Charlie's Pie Stall and as a final touch for the guard's van they get a night watchman's hut.
Under cover of darkness, they reach Clapham Junction, but to stop the train, Hancock has to throw a log under the front wheels and all the "coaches" pile on top of one another.
Hancock: "I can't understand it. I never had this trouble with me train set."
They get this mess sorted out and Hancock gives a little piece of railway folklore, which is cutting and to the point.
Hancock: "It still hasn't got the atmosphere of a train yet. It lacks those little touches that our railways do so well.
Sid: "What do you suggest?"
Hancock: "Scatter some dust about. Put a few foot marks over the seats."
Sid: "Anything Else?"
Hancock: "Get some pictures put up. Now I want a nice brown photograph of the bandstand at Leamington Spa in 1897 and those detailed maps that always end three stations before the place you're going to. You know, another thing, must get some paper bags - fill 'em up with breadcrumbs and banana skins and throw 'em under the tables."
Come the morning the train is due to leave Clapham Junction at 1023, calling at all stations to Brighton. However, on the platform Andrée has got lumbered with Snide (Kenneth Williams).
Snide: "Going to Brighton as well. Isn't that lucky."
Andrée (uncertain): "Yes".
Snide: "You're French aren't you? My wife doesn't understand me, you know.
Andrée: "You should speak more clearly."
They are interrupted by Bill's Tannoy announcement: "The thing now arriving is definitely a train ... get your tickets from the little fat guy on the train."
With all the passengers on board, Hancock tells Sid (the driver) to get underway. However, the train wont start.
Hancock: "First Class passengers stay where you are - 3rd Class passengers get out and push."
They get the train started but it will only move extremely slowly.
Hancock: "Hey, Sid, can't you go any faster? I'm getting fed up with that little bloke walking alongside tapping the wheels ... the passengers are a bit browned off. We steamed out of Clapham Junction two hours ago."
Hancock: "The last carriage hasn't cleared the platform yet."
Sid: "You'll have to kid 'em we're going faster... you and Bill dress up as trees and run past the windows."
Hancock: "Ha Ha, very droll."
Hancock collects a £44.10s.0d. fare from Snide and Andrée falls out with Hancock about the way he is exploiting people on the train service. The train goes into a tunnel and Hancock attempts to make things up.
Hancock: "Oh come on, Andrée, little fingers. Sit on me lap. There, that's better isn't it? (he kisses) ha ha, admit it, you can't resist me, can you? (kisses again)... we're coming out of the tunnel, you'd better get off me lap ... there, did you enjoy that?"
Snide: " Quite honestly, I can't say that I did."
Snide and Hancock's half-hearted attempts to start a fight come to nothing.
After four days, there is still no sign of Brighton and it gets dark again. There is a storm brewing.
Hancock: "Of course, this is the first time I've been out in a storm.
Alan Simpson: "Isn't it?"
Hancock: " I've been in a storm when it's rained so much even the fish were swimming about in raincoats."
They go off the rails for a short time and once back on again Hancock is convinced they are on the South Downs because of the way the train is going up and down.
Hancock: "Don't worry, we'll be in Brighton by the morning."
Kenneth Williams: "Here is the news. This morning, the police arrested the three men who stole the Rocket. Shortly before dawn this morning, they were found giving members of the public pleasure rides on a a home-made train on the big dipper at Battersea Fun Fair.
A show that requires the listener to suspend belief to a largo extent, but for all that, it is very enjoyable.
Transmitted: Tuesday 7th June 1955 at 2130, BBC Light Programme.
Repeated: Sunday 12th June 1955 at 1500, BBC Light Programme.
Recorded: Monday 6th June 1955
Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Music by Wally Stott
Produced by Dennis Main Wilson.