Hancock’s Half-Empty

The other day I watched a fascinating documentary on the life of John le Mesurier, ‘It’s All Been Rather Lovely.’ There was a lot about his working life; the Carry-ons and Dad’s Army and a look at a Dennis Potter play which showed that he had great undeveloped potential as a straight actor – but what was truly fascinating was his private life. In those days very little was known about the private lives of stars; without social media or paparazzi or the gossipy magazines there was very little outlet for it and people in general tended to keep themselves to themselves. It was normal for that generation not to talk about their feelings or their relationships; my own parents, for example, never confided in us about what was going on in their marriage, even long after we were grown up. But John seems to have been a very special person in that he was private without being buttoned-up and just about the most tolerant, forgiving person you could imagine. His first wife was an alcoholic so they divorced and then he married Hattie Jacques. She was the love of his life and they had many happy years together – but then she fell in love with another man and not content with seeing him on the side, moved him into the marital home. Poor John. Eventually he moved out, divorced Hattie and then married his third wife Joan, who is still alive. But then Joan fell in love with John’s best friend who happened to be Tony Hancock. Hancock is not known for his positive outlook on life and was not a pleasant person to be in love with; he was unfaithful and violent and Joan ended up turning to the one person who would understand, John himself. She acknowledged in the film that she had behaved unforgivably but throughout this period John acted with grace, understanding and forgiveness. Judging by this film, he was a prince among men and thoroughly deserved the happiness that in the end he had with Joan. It’s heartbreaking but also a lovely thing to watch in an age where people come out on social media wishing their exes all kinds of dire retribution and heaping scorn on those who have wronged them – and for that, I honour him.

RIP John, we never knew you.

And here’s the programme. I’ve also started watching Traces, a new series based on a Val McDermid story in which people are generally nice and friendly to each other. I do like a good crime series to follow and this one makes me long for Scotland even more.

Pining for the lochs…

Kirk out

4 thoughts on “Hancock’s Half-Empty

  1. I remember watching the JlM documentary a while back, and coming away with very much the same impression. The name le Mesurier [or Masurier] is very common in the Channel Islands, but I don’t remember if the doc mentioned any connection there. He was a real gentleman, in every sense of the word, without any false affectations. Cheers, Jon.

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