Brewery finances Hancock memorial: City honours drink-tragedy comedian

TONY HANCOCK might have appreciated the irony. A statue to the great comedian's memory has been commissioned by the drink and drug counselling service Turning Point, and the bulk of the pounds 30,000 cost has been donated by Ansells Brewery.

Hancock was plagued by problems with alcohol when he died in June 1968 in a hotel room in Sydney. However, he is holding nothing more potent than a cup of tea in the 10ft by 10ft bronze-cast photographic image which Turning Point hopes to site in the middle of Birmingham, the city where he was born in 1924.

The statue was designed by Bruce Williams, whose other works include Kiss Wall on Brighton beach. Perforated with tiny holes, filled with glass tubes, it will reflect light and form rainbow prisms when it rains.

Mr Williams was one of three sculptors who put their proposals for a Hancock memorial before a panel that included Tony's brother, Roger, who described it as 'everybody's perfect image of Tony'.

Councillors have yet to give planning permission for a specific site, but will discuss the issue this week. Fred Chapman, chairman of Birmingham's planning committee, said: 'Recognition of Tony Hancock has a lot of sympathy and support and the statue will certainly have a high profile somewhere in the city centre.'

Simon Livingstone, Turning Point's appeals chairman in the West Midlands, said: 'Tony Hancock died from similar causes to those we are associated with. We want to use this statue as a focal point to raise awareness of the issue.'

The charity hopes to see it unveiled by 12 May, which would have been the comedian's 70th birthday.