Galton and Simpson’s Comedy Playhouse
We continue our special series of posts counting down to the 60th anniversary of Hancock’s Half Hour first being broadcast on BBC Radio. We’ve looked at the impact Comedy Playhouse had by producing some of our best loved sitcoms and later today we go back to another ground breaking series that Galton and Simpson were respsonsible for writing the beginnings of, those original two 1960’s series that were Galton and Simpson’s Comedy Playhouse.
Over the next few days, as we get closer to that all important anniversary, scriptwriting legends Ray Galton and Alan Simpson join us to discuss their most famous works
Today it’s Galton and Simpson’s Comedy Playhouse.
BCC: By now you’ve written the scripts to thirteen series of Hancock’s Half Hour, six on the radio and seven on TV, making you both household names. Was Comedy Playhouse an exciting challenge after Hancock’s Half Hour?
G&S: Yes, after nine years with Tony it was Tom Sloan who was head of BBC comedy who offered us the chance to do whatever we liked. Write them, produce them, direct or act in them, anything we liked as long as it was called Comedy Playhouse, his title.
We decided to do what we knew best, write ’em, neither of us were actors or producers. We wrote the first two series on the condition we could use straight actors, as they counted the number of lines and not laughs.
BCC: You wrote the first two series and famously ‘The Offer’ became the hugely successful Steptoe ans Son, something I want to talk about later. Of those episodes that didn’t make it, were there any you would have liked to have seen make it to a full series ?
G&S: No, we weren’t thinking of a series, we were just enjoying writing one offs. The BBC saw potential in Steptoe and it was six months of constant asking before we agreed to do a full series. BCC, at this point Alan relays the story of Steptoe’s early success, which we’ll come back to later as we talk Steptoe in more detail.
Tomorrow: We Get Closer to that anniversary as Galton and Simpson discuss the final Hancock Series