Hancock & Joan (2008)

Poor John Le Mesurier. Having his second marriage wrecked by a man he invited into his own home, his third marriage has barely begun before it too is placed under similar strain. Once more doing a good deed, Le Mesurier provides a safe harbour for an alcoholic who returns the favour by having it away with the missus. As always, Le Mesurier presents a stiff upper lip and tolerates the affair in the hope his wife will come to her senses. Adding to his pain is that this time, the other man is his best friend Tony Hancock.

 

By the time Joan Le Mesurier became involved with Tony Hancock, the comedian’s professional and personal life had been spiralling out of control for years. Since the end of his hit BBC television and radio shows, his subsequent TV series failed to find an audience, his film career petered out after just two starring vehicles, his first marriage ended and his second marriage was failing. Compounding all this was his alcoholism. 

 

Despite some stark depictions of the effects alcoholism had on Hancock, Ken Stott avoids making him a pathetic character. The moments he shares with Joan, a radiant Maxine Peake, at the start of their relationship make his subsequent fall all the more potent. The one sub-par performance is Alex Jennings, whose portrayal of John Le Mesurier as a murmuring milquetoast seems more like a poor impersonation of Prince Charles… after suffering a stroke.

 

Poor John Le Mesurier.

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According to Graham McCann’s book 'Do You Think That’s Wise?: The Life of John Le Mesurier', Tony Hancock did not leave a hospital to stay with the Le Mesurier’s. Instead he had shut himself away with just a single upright chair, a bed and a mound of empty bottles.

The closest this biopic has to a scene recreation is a read through of the first episode of his unfinished Australian series, 'Hancock Down Under'.

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