The British sitcom Steptoe and Son has been a beloved part of British culture since the 1960s. The series, which ran from 1962 to 1974, was a major success and has had an enduring impact on British television comedy.
The show follows the lives of Albert Steptoe aka “you dirty old man” (played by Wilfrid Brambell), an elderly rag-and-bone man, and his son Harold (Harry H. Corbett), always aspiring for the finer things in life. The two live together at 24 Oil Drum Lane in a dilapidated house in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, and the show follows Harold’s attempts to get ahead in life whilst being constantly hamstrung by his manipulative father. Albert is very much set in his ways and resistant to change, while Harold is more progressive and ambitious, wanting to make something of himself.
The show was created by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, who had previously worked together on the equally legendary BBC radio and TV comedy Hancock’s Half Hour. The show, which grew out of an episode of Comedy Playhouse called The Offer, was an instant success and ran for eight seasons, with a total of 57 episodes and two feature films.
The show was known for its sharp dialogue and witty one-liners, as well as its ability to explore deeper themes such as class and generational conflict.
Steptoe and Son was a major influence on British comedy, and the show’s influence can still be seen in any modern British comedy where one of the characters is emotionally trapped, especially fellow classics like Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses.
It also had an affect on United States audiences, where it was adapted into the highly popular show Sanford and Son.
Steptoe and Son aired from 5 January 1962 – 26 December 1974 on BBC One.