The Blackpool Show was ITV's summer replacement for a seemingly ailing London Palladium Show, while conveniently doubling up as a replacement for ABC's Blackpool Night Out which had finished the previous year. Broadcast live from the ABC Theatre, Blackpool, eight shows were planned with Tony Hancock presenting the first seven with a Bruce Forsyth special occupying the final spot, while Hancock was expected to make a guest appearance. Despite the potential for problems by hiring such a volatile star Philip Jones, ABC's head of light entertainment exclaimed "We regard Tony as a terrific TV scoop" and to back his belief Hancock was given £1200 per show.
Presented by Tony Hancock (he disliked the word 'compere') he was hired to stand in front of the curtain and provide links between each act with gags, sketches, and the occasional song, for which he had been taking vocal coaching.
The public was getting used to seeing Hancock again. As well as the well-
A variety show host was not the kind of thing you would expect from Hancock, so the
money must have been an influence. But more importantly though he had made contact
with ABC who would provide him with a new, much-
For The Blackpool Show Hancock had been assigned Eric Green and John Muir as writers, but it has been suggested that they also acted as babysitters for the star. No one could have known how little time he had left, but he was looked ill and often fluffed his lines. During one of these live shows Hancock actually forgot the name of the acts he was meant to introduce. But given the little existing evidence interaction with his regular guests like John Junkin (as his sidekick Evelyn) seemed to work well.
Despite people's reservations about Hancock the show went straight to the top of the TAMS ratings with 20,000,000 viewers after the first show which featured Matt Monro and American singer Marion Montgomery. Later guests included Kathy Kirby, The Bachelors, Allan Sherman, The Seekers, The Rockin’ Berries and Anita Harris among others.
ABC wisely chose to play it safe with the second season, beginning 25th June 1967 by hiring comedian Dickie Henderson as the host who would introduce Mel Torme, Nancy Wilson, Dusty Springfield, The Shadows, Cilla Black, Frank Sinatra Jr which kind of suggests they were aiming for international sales, rather then just the domestic audience. Henderson was already performing two shows a night in a Blackpool summer season show, so was was more reliable than Hancock who would have to come up from London.
As it was obvious ABC wouldn't be around for much longer it didn't bother with a series in 1968.