Sitcom. Harold Steptoe, a middle aged Rag and Bone man, yearns to break away from the clutches of his elderly conniving (and it has to be said, disgusting) father, but events always conspire against him. The Steptoes lived at 24 Oil Drum Lane, Shepherd’s Bush and had a horse called Hercules.
One of TV’s true classics, the show began life as a one off comedy special for the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse before graduating to its own hugely popular series. Harry H. Corbett who played middle aged Harold and Wilfred Brambrell who played his “dirty old man” of a father both felt incredibly stifled by their time in the series and neither were able to escape from the series even after it had finished, forever known as the characters they played rather than the excellent actors they were.
The show itself, created and written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, hangs on the classic scenario of the two characters being trapped (so many of the golden greats of comedy, Fawlty Towers, The Likely Lads, Porridge etc have this theme in common) with old Albert being caught in being mentally unable to cope on his own and Harold being unable to leave his father to his own devices to make a proper life for himself. Much of the humour of course coming from the sparring between the two as both realise exactly the position they are in.
Show writers Galton and Simpson had just finished writing for Hancock’s half hour and were pretty much at the top of their game in the early 60s, the quality of their scripts really shines through. However by the mid 1960’s both stars had tired of their roles and called it quits. Like the characters they played though neither Brambell or Corbett could escape and returned to the series in 1970 for another hugely popular run.
The series was also so popular that it garnered two big screen outings in the early 1970’s (see below) and a whole range of merchandise from novelisations to records and annuals. Brambell and Corbett also starred in radio versions of their TV scripts for most of the show’s run.
On Wednesday the 14 September 2016 the BBC broadcast a remake of Steptoe and Son episode A Winter’s Tale as part of their Sitcom Season celebrating 60 years of sitcoms, especially Hancock’s Half Hour, on the network. A Winter’s Tale was chosen as one of the Lost Episodes for the season because it is one of a huge number of BBC shows no longer in existence.
UK / BBC One / 55×30 minute episodes 2×45 minute episodes / Broadcast 5 January 1962 – 26 December 1974
Writers: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson / Theme Music: Ron Grainer / Incidental Music: Dennis Wilson
WILFRED BRAMBELL as Albert Steptoe
HARRY H. CORBETT as Harold Steptoe
COMEDY PLAYHOUSE 5 Jan 1962
1. The Offer
SEASON ONE 14 June – 12 July 1962
1. THE BIRD
2. THE PIANO
3. THE ECONOMIST
4. THE DIPLOMA
5. THE HOLIDAY
CHRISTMAS NIGHT WITH THE STARS
Short segment as part of a Christmas special featuring popular BBC shows shown on Christmas day 1962.
SEASON TWO 3 January – 14 February 1963
1. WALLAH WALLAH CATSMEAT
2. THE BATH
3. THE STEPMOTHER
4. SIXTY-FIVE TODAY
5. A MUSICAL EVENING
6. FULL HOUSE
7. IS THAT YOUR HORSE OUTSIDE?
ON 10 November 1963 Corbett and Brambell appeared in character and to great acclaim on The Royal Variety Performance (broadcast on ITV, made by ATV).
SEASON THREE 7 January – 18 February 1964
1. HOMES FIT FOR HEROES
2. THE WOODEN OVERCOATS
3. THE LEAD MAN COMETH
4. STEPTOE A LA CART
5. SUNDAY FOR SEVEN DAYS
6. THE BONDS THAT BIND US
7. THE LODGER
SEASON FOUR 4 October – 15 November 1965
1. AND AFTERWARDS AT…
2. CROSSED SWORDS
3. THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN AND THEIR HEATING MACHINES
4. THE SIEGE OF STEPTOE STREET
5. A BOX IN TOWN
6. MY OLD MAN’S A TORY
7. PILGRIM’S PROGRESS
That was it for the show’s 1960’s run apart from a 5 minute segment broadcast as part of 1967’s Christmas Night With The Stars extravaganza broadcast on Christmas Day that year.
SEASON FIVE 6 March – 17 April 1970
1. A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
2. A WINTER’S TALE
3. ANY OLD IRON?
4. STEPTOE AND SON – AND SON
5. THE COLOUR PROBLEM
6. T.B. OR NOT T.B.?
7. MEN OF PROPERTY
SEASON SIX 2 November – 12 December 1970
1. ROBBERY WITH VIOLENCE
2. COME DANCING
3. TWO’S COMPANY
4. TEA FOR TWO
5. WITHOUT PREJUDICE
6. POT BLACK
7. THE THREE FEATHERS
8. CUCKOO IN THE NEST
SEASON SEVEN 21 February – 3 April 1972
1. MEN OF LETTERS
2. A STAR IS BORN
3. OH, WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING
4. LIVE NOW, P.A.Y.E. LATER
5. LOATHE STORY
6. DIVIDED WE STAND
7. THE DESPERATE HOURS
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 24 December 1972
1. A CHRISTMAS PARTY
Before the next season aired two big screen movies were made. The first Steptoe and Son was released in 1972 the second Steptoe and Son Ride Again in 1973.
SEASON EIGHT 4 September – 10 October 1974
1. BACK IN FASHION
2. AND SO TO BED
3. PORN YESTERDAY
4. THE SEVEN STEPTOERAI
5. UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS
6. SEANCE IN A WET RAG AND BONE YARD
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 26 December 1974
1. A CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY