ATV’s “Hancock” Restored by Reminiscence Media

In a momentous endeavour to preserve a comedy classic, the borderline legendary 1963 series “Hancock,” featuring the incomparable Tony Hancock, has undergone an intricate digital restoration, culminating in a highly anticipated special edition DVD collection. Reminiscence Media, in close collaboration with Roger Hancock LTD, embarked on a formidable task to breathe new life into this beloved series, meticulously restoring 12 out of the 13 original episodes.

ATV’s legendary sitcom “Hancock,” produced in 1963, remained a hidden treasure that had been rarely seen by audiences and fans. The series revolves around the iconic character Tony Hancock, who courageously ventures into various professions and activities each week, only to face comical misadventures and frequent failures. Despite the initial buzz surrounding its 1963 debut, the show received a mixed response and was never repeated.

However, “Hancock” managed to etch its place in the hearts of Tony Hancock’s dedicated fanbase, attaining an almost mythical status. Noteworthy for its exceptional guest star lineup, each episode features esteemed actors such as Dennis Price, Derek Nimmo, John Le Mesurier, Pauline Yates, Kenneth Griffin, Joan Benham, and Peter Vaughan, contributing to the series’ enduring appeal. Recognising the enduring interest in “Hancock,” Reminiscence Media was entrusted by Roger Hancock LTD, with the task of restoring twelve out of the thirteen original episodes for an eagerly anticipated DVD release. This marked a momentous occasion, as it signifies the official resurrection of the show after a hiatus of 59 long years.

Working closely with Roger Hancock LTD, Reminiscence Media engaged in an extensive dialogue to ascertain the precise vision and expectations for the restoration process. With the source material originating from a 16mm telerecording, a technique commonly employed during the 1950s and 60s to capture televised content on film, meticulous care was taken to ensure that the original essence of the series was upheld. The restoration process embarked upon by Reminiscence Media entailed a meticulous and thorough approach. The first step involved digitally scanning the twelve 16mm tele-recordings at Westpoint TV, which were originally captured using a film camera pointed at a studio feedback monitor. These high-resolution scans served as the foundation for the subsequent restoration work carried out by the skilled team at Reminiscence Media. Although the film reels were scanned in HD, the content output was understandably nowhere near HD quality, as the source was 405-line videotape, roughly equivalent to around 466 pixels in width. The scans were done in HD in order to maintain a minimally destructive clean-up process. Regrettably, one episode titled “The Craftsman” had suffered significant deterioration over time, rendering it irreparable. However, to ensure the DVD release was complete, a vintage telecine copy was sourced and included as a replacement.

Drawing on their expertise, Reminiscence Media applied advanced restoration techniques to the 16mm scans, examining each 16mm print intricately to determine what could be done to visually enhance them, before employing image stabilisation to counteract any unsteady footage, meticulous dirt and dust removal to enhance visual clarity, and intricate scratch removal procedures to minimise visual distractions. The restoration journey spanned two months of dedicated effort by the tireless team at Reminiscence Media, a feat that would typically require a larger team and at least six months to complete. Once the cleanup process was complete, the painstakingly restored episodes were then passed on to the skilled hands of the post-production team for their final grading, ensuring the utmost visual fidelity.

During the restoration deliberations, an intriguing question arose regarding whether to apply VidFIRE technology to recreate the smooth motion videotape look that the original videotapes showcased. However, after careful consideration and examination of records indicating that the footage was transferred to film for broadcast, it was decided to preserve the authenticity of the “film-look” which was executed during the production process. By maintaining this original transfer, Reminiscence Media ensured that the viewers would experience “Hancock” in the same manner as it was intended to be seen, capturing the essence of the show’s original broadcast era. While the original production of “Hancock” was recorded to 405-line videotape, historical records indicated that the telerecordings were the versions screened on television during the series’ initial broadcast. Therefore, the decision was made to retain the film-like appearance of the telerecordings, thus preserving the inherent nostalgia and authenticity of the content.

The culmination of these restoration efforts now gives rise to a special edition DVD collection, marking a momentous occasion as “Hancock” becomes available on home video for the very first time. Prior to this eagerly awaited release, the series remained unseen since its original 1963 broadcasts, leaving fans longing to relish the timeless comedy brilliance of Tony Hancock once more. The results of the extensive restoration efforts are remarkable, breathing new life into “Hancock” and presenting audiences with a comprehensive and highly satisfying representation of the series as it was meant to be. Fans and new viewers alike can eagerly anticipate the upcoming DVD release, where they will have the joy of indulging in this comedic masterpiece in all its restored glory.

UPDATE: Hancock can now be purchased directly from Kaleidoscope DVD and Amazon UK.