Taking a sabbatical from show business, from 2005 he began working for a friend's mortgage brokerage. He left the position in February 2007, although no reason for his departure was made public.
Hancock grew up with three elder sisters, with father Ken, a builder. He was educated at Yarlet School in Staffordshire and later Shrewsbury School. He was awarded a Third Class Degree in Education at Homerton College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Hancock was a member of the Footlights where he first collaborated with Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt and became president in 1983 with Punt as vice president. He was also a founding member of the Homerton College Blaggards.
After graduation, Hancock became a PE teacher and practised stand-up comedy as a hobby. He formed a double act with Neil Mullarkey, another former Footlights member, and the duo mostly did satirical spoofs of television shows' title sequences to accompanying music, several times on television, including on "After Ten with Tarbuck" in 1988. This included Doctor Who, Kojak, and Dad's Army. One of his earliest TV breaks was presenting La Triviatta, a comedy/chat show about trivia for the short lived British Satellite Broadcasting station.
He appeared in an advertisement for Datapost in 1988, and in a series of 1990 advertisements for Randall's beer, that were originally only shown in Jersey. These were later lampooned by Angus Deayton in his TV show Before They Were Famous.
Hancock appeared in two episodes of Mr. Bean, first as a thief who stole Mr. Bean's camera, and later as a ticket inspector in a train. His early television credits also include Me, You and Him and The Mary Whitehouse Experience.
Hancock’s comedy idol is Peter Cook and he got the chance to meet him when Cook appeared on Room 101. Hancock enjoyed hosting They Think It's All Over - especially when guests got in hot water: "Chris Eubank was slagging off Kiwi rugby star Jonah Lomu, who's 6 ft 5 in and about 18 1/2 stone. I knew Jonah was backstage, about to come on for our 'feel the sportsman' round. It was a very pleasing moment!" In 1998 he starred (alongside Andy Smart) in a documentary/comedy about the Iranian national football team called "The Outsiders". In 1999 he also appeared in Great Railway Journeys of the World, travelling from Guantanamo to Pinar del Rio.
Hancock provided the narration for the 1998 six-part BBC documentary Pleasure Beach, following the running of the Blackpool amusement park.
After passing on the hosts duties for both Room 101 and They Think It's All Over, Hancock took a sabbatical to enjoy family life and his children. He has made one-off appearances, including on Red Nose Day's The Ultimate Makeover, where Hancock, Anna Ryder Richardson, Phil Tufnell and TV gardener Joe Swift transformed a Liverpool play centre for children whose parents could not afford child-care.
Hancock has said that if he was ever invited to guest on a chat show, he would refuse. There isn't that much of himself to give, he has insisted: "I can’t think of anything I’ve ever done that would be of interest to anybody." However, in 2006 he appeared on TV Heaven, Telly Hell, discussing his TV likes and dislikes, with Trinny and Susannah being his number one hate.
Hancock filmed a series for STV and Discovery Real Time called Nick Hancock's Fishing School, where he teaches a number of students the art of fly fishing. The show, made by SMG Productions, began broadcasting in January 2007.
In 2007, he presented a new game show called Win My Wage for Channel 4. The show aired in Deal or No Deal's usual slot during the latter's summer break.
In 2007 it was announced that Hancock would host a new show on ITV1 in 2008 called Duel. The show was not recommissioned after its initial run. In 2009, he became the host of the daytime cookery competition series Taste the Nation on ITV1.
In 2010 he stood in for Danny Baker and Colin Murray on the radio, and has appeared in a celebrity special of hit ITV1 gameshow The Chase in 2011, in which he came just 1 second from winning a half share of £64,000 for this favourite charity.
In 2011, he was asked by BBC America to join the panel of the popular NPR quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! for their year-end special on BBC America, "A Royal Pain in the News". Hancock won the game.
In 2012, he became the host of the new BBC Two show, Breakaway, which began screening on 12 March.
In June 2015, Hancock guest hosted the breakfast show for Stoke-on-Trent radio station Signal 1.
Hancock met his wife, Iranian-born Shari Eftekhari, during a George Best and Rodney Marsh football roadshow in Staines, Surrey. Hancock proposed to Shari in a pub: "We were playing pool in the Nellie Dean. I said to Shari: 'Have I got something stuck between my teeth?' As she looked I stuck out my tongue - there was an engagement ring on it. She said: 'That's lovely, yes, I will - but can we change the ring?" The couple married in Staffordshire in 1997, two years after they first met, and have two children, Dolores Mina (Lollie) and Harvey Omid John.
Hancock is a lifelong supporter of Stoke City. In September 2001, he paid £20,000 at Sotheby's Football Memorabilia auction in London for the FA Cup winner's medal awarded to Sir Stanley Matthews in 1953. Hancock sold the medal in November 2014 for £220,000. In 2007, he made an appearance on an edition of Antiques Roadshow recorded in Stoke-on-Trent, talking about some of the items in his collection of football memorabilia. He is also an avid cricket fan. He was interviewed by 6 Towns Radio about the 40th anniversary of Stoke's 1972 League Cup win.
Hancock recorded an hour-long compilation video release of footballing bloopers, dubbed Football Nightmares. This was released on VHS which was succeeded by two follow-up videos: Football Hell and Football Doctor. These three were later released on a one-disc DVD.Room 101
Fish on Five
Back End Of Next Week
Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!