Steptoe and Son in Murder at Oil Drum Lane brought the Steptoe story to a close. It was first performed in 2005.
We spoke to creators Ray Galton and Alan Simpson in 2014 and we asked Ray Galton how the stage play came about as ther characters had been created by himself and long time writing partner Alan Simpson who had himself retired in 1978.
RG: I’d been doing some writing with John and he asked if we could do something with Steptoe and Son, if Alan was in agreement.
AS: Ray approached me with the idea and said it would have to bring the story to a close, I agreed and said I didn’t mind he and John writing it. The two actors were brilliant, as it happened if you follow the story of the play it’s an adaptation of the idea Ray and I had when Wilfrid went off to Broadway…..
G&S: …… at the end of series two, Wilfrid Brambell secured the lead in a Broadway musical, so he was off to America for two years. We had this idea that Harold has finally laid the Old Man to rest and returns to Oil Drum Lane on his own. A twenty year old lad turns up and tells Harry that his Mother had told him all about him, how he might be his Father and if anything happened to her he should look him up.
Above excerpts taken from the interview: Galton and Simpson discuss Steptoe: part 2
The year is 2005. Steptoe’s old house now belongs to the National Trust. Harold Steptoe, now in his 70s, visits the place but gets shut in after closing time. Through his monologue, the audience discovers that he eventually killed his father by throwing a spear at him when he was sitting on the toilet. Since then, he has been living on the run in Rio De Janeiro.
Locked in Harold begins to look around the old place, at this point the ghost of his father, Albert, re-appears. Albert explains that he has been trapped in this house with the “poncy” National Trust man, and that the only thing that Albert needs to get into heaven is an apology from Harold. But Harold refuses to give it, because he blames Albert for ruining his life.
Most of the story is told in flashback. Albert refused to let him go to school, forcing him into a life of no education. Albert forced Harold to take the blame for looting in the blitz. Albert then stopped him going to theD-Day landings. Albert had locked him in a secret compartment throughout the war. When the war ends, Harold is arrested and sent to fight in the Malayas. When he returns, Albert continues to ruin his life. In an attempt to be rid of Albert forever, Harold plans to emigrate to New Zealand with his fiancée, Joyce. Albert ruins it by telling them that Joyce is secretly Harold’s sister. Harold sets off for New Zealand but in true Steptoe style is thwarted when Albert gets him arrested by framing him as a thief. When Harold gets out of jail, Albert continues to thwart all his attempts to get a girlfriend. Harold is absolutely mad at Albert until he discovers that in all the junk he has a copy of Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible worth £3 million. Harold is delighted and runs off to celebrate. Albert is not so happy, realising that his simple life with Harold will be over.
In the next scene, Harold returns home to find the Bible missing, and presumes his father has destroyed it. In a fit of rage he throws a spear at the toilet door. At that moment, Albert opens the door and is stabbed by the spear.
The flashbacks end. Harold finds it in his heart to forgive Albert. It is then that he has a heart attack (due to finding the Bible was hidden for safe measures not destroyed, yet over time it had been chewed and ripped) and becomes a ghost along with Albert. The next morning, his body is discovered and Joyce, who has become a nun asks for him to be buried next to his father, much to Harold’s annoyance. Albert accidentally tells Harold that Joyce and he aren’t really related. Harold is furious and in the argument they fly into the sky on their old wagon, pulled by their old horse Hercules, arguing over which one will go to Heaven.
Harold – Jake Nightingale
Albert – Harry Dickman
National Trust Man, Policeman #1, Military Policeman – Daniel Beales
Joyce, Pamela – Katie Males
Fiona – Louise Metcalfe
Policeman #2 – Andy Clarkson
Written By: Ray Galton and John Antrbus
Directed By: Roger Smith