BBC Landmark Comedy Season – The Lost Sitcoms

On 14th September as the season begins to draw to a close BBC 4 broadcast the last of their lost sitcoms.  This time it’s Steptoe and Son – A Winter’s Tale.

Originally this was episode 2 of series 5, from 1970, the first to be broadcast in colour.  However, like many BBC shows pre-1974 the original recordings were lost/wiped.  Infact the whole 1970 series all but two from the 1971 series now only exist in black and white.

There is a story has it that the episodes were recorded off-air by Galton and Simpson themselves.  However it isn’t quite true.  These episodes still exist beause copies were made from the master tapes for writers Galton and Simpson by an engineer at the BBC using a Shibaden SV-700 half-inch reel-to-reel b/w video recorder—a forerunner of the video cassette recorder.   In 2008 the first reel of a b/w telerecording of the series 5 episode “A Winter’s Tale” (lasting approx 15 minutes) was returned to the BBC; this is the only telerecording of a colour Steptoe and Son episode known to still exist.  It is believed that this makes a reconstructed colour version a possibility, although nothing has ever been confirmed.

For 2016 two new actors take on the iconic roles made famous by the late Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell for a one off reconstrution as part of the BBC’s Lost Sitcom season.


It’s holiday time again and this year Harold decides he wants to go on a skiing holiday to Austria: on his own.

Deciding he’ll need practice, Harold builds a somewhat ram-shackle practice slope in the yard.

When Harold announces his plans to his Father, Albert is not happy so Harold suggests he go to stay with relatives in Stoke-on-Trent.

However in true Steptoe style Harold becomes incapacitated, after an accident on his unsafe home-made piste.  this changes the holiday plans as it now looks like Harold is destined for Stoke, whilst Albert goes to Austria.





Jeff Rawle – Albert
Ed Coleman – Harold


Channel: BBC4
Written By: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Original Transmission Date; 14th September 2016

Our Verdict

A spirited performance from the two actors, but when the original still exists, even if it is in black and white it’s always going to be hard.  Watching the two together you begin to realise how everything came together so well for a Galton and Simpson sitcom, in this case their insistence at using straight actors for a sitcom, proving that opposites really can attract (huge audiences).

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