ON Sunday, James Hurn played a sell-out show at London’s Museum of Comedy, performs at Blackburn tonight and Bath in July. The Bath show will include two Hancock shows penned by James that has the backing of Hancock’s Half Hour scriptwriters Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. In this tribute to Hancock’s Half Hour, James plays every part in three editions of the sitcom.You can catch his impressions of Tony Hancock, Sid James and Kenneth Williams on www.youtube.com/ watch?v=CrHJ6MGEXIM
The Mill Hill-born impersonator, whose CV includes BBC TV sketch series Dead Ringers, is a massive Hancock’s Half Hour aficionado. “I think Hancock’s Half Hour is so popular because, being one of the first sitcoms to originate on the radio and transfer successfully to the television, it set a very high standard for future sitcoms to follow. The combination of fantastic comedy actors and the superb writing of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson endeared it to the hearts of the nation. The characters were written and performed in such a way that the majority of the population could empathise.
“The show is going very well indeed. I am having some fabulous feedback on social media from members of the public and people in the industry, such as impressionist Jon Culshaw, who said it was ‘utterly masterful and quite quite superb’, and actor Kevin McNally who said: ‘You have Tony Hancock’s pitch and tone so much better than I’.”
James graduated from LAMDA 20 years ago and has since undertaken many theatre, television and radio roles. His screen credits include Steven Spielberg’s Band of Brothers, Dead Ringers (where he took off Christopher Lloyd and Tom Hanks) and BBC Radio 4 programme The Bid. “Highlights for me would be working with Tom Hanks on Band of Brothers, working alongside Jon Culshaw in Dead Ringers, working on two projects with the fabulous Alison Jackson – where I was able to showcase many of my impressions – and performing in West End show The 39 Steps, where I played over 24 different characters.”
He first discovered he was able to change his voice at a very early age when he would imitate teachers and cartoon characters. “My eldest brother would always ask me to do impressions of Hollywood stars for his friends.” Nowadays he closely follows the careers of actors, politicians and TV personalities for new material.
“I look for very colourful characters that have very distinctive voices.My current favourite is Donald Trump. He is comedy gold. “He’s certainly a gift to someone like me, because he is naturally a larger- than-life character who unknowingly says some very comical things – that combined with his facial expressions, mannerisms and voice, I am able to develop many comical scenarios.”
To see James' impersonation of Donald Trump, visit www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Hk_qXW7lFjo