Steptoe and Son, 1962, The World’s Most Famous Rag And Bone Men….
Steptoe and Son is a British sitcom about a Father and Son, who are rag and bone men. Set at the fictional address of Oil Drum Lane in Shepherd’s Bush, London.
The program ran for eight series of thirty minute episodes. Broadcast in two blocks: the first from 1962 – 1965 (four series) these episodes were made in Black and White, the second ran from 1970 – 1974 (four series) these episodes were made in colour and in addition to the standard half hour slot two forty five minute Christmas Specials were made in 1973 and 1974. The 1974 Christmas Special would be the last new televised episode.
Running fourth in the series Galton and Simpson’s Comedy Playhouse, “The Offer”, was reputed to be a result of both writer’s block and budgetary constraints.
Writers Galton and Simpson told British Classic Comedy in an interview that they later found out that the BBC were keen as it used straight actors as opposed to comedy actors because straight actors were paid less. As earlier shows in the series had cost more than expected Galton and Simpson decided to write a two hander set in one room. Originally the idea of two brothers was considered but father and son seemed to work best.
At it’s peak Steptoe and Son attracted audiences of twenty eight million per episode. The series was one of the first UK situation comedy programmes to employ actors rather than comedians in the principal roles. Galton and Simpson had decided themselves that they wanted to try to write for performers who “didn’t count their laughs”.
Steptoe and Son was voted 15th in a 2004 BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom of all time.
Principally the show revolved around the day to day lives of the two main characters. Harold’s continuous efforts to better himself and his situation and his desperate attempts to woo women. Only to find his efforts thwarted at every turn by Albert who regularly proves himself superior much to Harold’s dismay.
Written By: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Original Run: (Pilot 4 January 1962), series 14th June 1962 – 15th November 1965, then 6th March 1970 – 26th December 1974
A number of scripts were adapted for the BBC Radio series of the same name featuring original cast members. The series lead to two feature films Steptoe and Son and Steptoe and Son Ride Again.
In 2005, the play Steptoe and Son in Murder at oil Drum Lane, written by Ray Galton and John Antrobus, brought the storyline to a close.