Steptoe And Son is the third and final entry in BBC4’s Lost Sitcoms season and the original was another classic of its time, and one that I saw a lot more than Till Death Us Do Part and Hancock’s Half Hour.
The relationship between Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett, as the titular Steptoe and Son – a rag-and-bone man and the offspring who can’t escape, felt impossible to recreate. It’s not just two people shouting at each other, it’s two actors portraying father and son, struggling against all of life’s odds, while trying not to kill each other – because they would given half a chance.
A programme like this hangs on the performances, and neither Jeff Rawle or Ed Coleman, as Albert and Harold, respectively, get particularly close to the originals. A couple of times, Rawle gets slightly close to the intonation of Brambell, at times when he’s crying wolf and pretending to appeal to Harold’s better nature, as the latter wants to swan off on a skiing holiday without his dad, but overall, this completely washed over me. They must’ve done tests beforehand to work out whether this was a suitable sitcom, so how it passed, I have no idea.
Steptoe And Son is available to pre-order on DVD as part of the Lost Sitcoms season, ahead of its release on September 19th, and you can also watch the episode on BBC iPlayer, up until October 14th, and click on the top-right image in this review for the full-size version.
Director: Ben Gosling Fuller
Producer: Owen Bell
Writers: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Music: “Old Ned” by Ron Grainer
Albert Steptoe: Jeff Rawle
Harold Steptoe: Ed Coleman
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.