In the early seventies I shared a flat with a load of blokes. Between us we had three budget Hancock LPs on Pye's Golden Guinea label. We played them on Sunday afternoons when nothing was open and there was nothing else to do.
Thus we committed every word of The Blood Donor, The Radio Ham, The Missing Page, The Reunion and the others to memory. There are a few comedy series that stand up to repeated viewing and listening but I don't know another where the individual lines linger quite as much.
Not a week goes by I don't quote one either out loud or just in my head. Handing around the wine gums at the theatre the other day I found myself saying "don't take the black one", which then led to "they do tubes of all black ones nowadays" and then "I know, but you can't always get 'em".
Galton and Simpson were great writers, they were coming up with lines for great comic actors and most of them were tried first on the radio, which may account for their peculiar savour, for the way they only lend themselves to being said in the way the actor in the original production said them.
I know them like other people know poetry.
"Given, no. Spilt, yes."
"We're not all Rob Roys, you know."
"Last one in the Reichstag's a sissy."
"We're going to Margate this year, if any of you young nurses fancy it. No funny business."
I walked in on my youngest Skyping mates all over the world the other day and couldn't stop myself saying "send a bread pudding to Kuala Lumpur".