Steptoe And Son – The Desperate Hours, 1972

As we reach the end of this series, for the penultimate part Galton and Simpson turn their attention to their other huge success: Steptoe and Son.

G&S: The episode you are about to view was from the seventh series we did, Leonard Rossiter and J.G. Devlin are marvelous as the escaped convicts.

BCC: Where did the idea for the escaped convicts come from?

G&S: The episode itself came about as a result of writer’s block.  We couldn’t think of anything, then a Humphrey Bogart picture, of the same name, we’d seen came to mind.  Inspired by the idea of the escaped convicts we transferred the idea across to Steptoe.  The idea worked well with the escaped convicts having more in common with Albert and Harold than just their age.  Each set of characters are in their own prison. Eventually the escaped convicts realise they are in a better prison than Steptoes.


As Harold and Albert struggle to keep warm in the freezing house, until they get some unexpected visitors, in the form of two escaped convicts, but who is better off?

Classic lines from Leonard Rossiter “God we were better off inside”  When Harold tells him he should have come a couple of weeks ago as normally they do quite well Rossiter’s character replies “awfully sorry, just couldn’t get away” and my personal favourite when Albert tells the old man he’ll come and visit him “I’ll bring you some porridge”  The old man replies “thanks very much and don’t forget the lumps’



Harry H. Corbett
Wilfrid Brambell
Leonard Rossiter
J.G. Devlin


Channel: BBC1
Written: By: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Original Transmission Date: 3rd April 1972