Arguably the best British sit-com to visit the flickering one-eyed beast Galton & Simpson’s Steptoe & Son has a special place for me, sat up watching it as one of the few things that wasn’t classified as outright rubbish by my Dad alongside The Likely Lads and Dad’s Army. It was typically for Galton & Simpson extremely well written and in much the same way as they worked Hancock, with a very small cast. The interplay between two characters requires tight scripts and decent actors, and budgets did not allow vast numbers of sets. Aside from the usual ‘going abroad’ films that everything in the 70s suffered from Steptoe & Son was a genuine classic. But where did it end?
Well in 2005 we found out, or at least I’ve just found out that we find out, Ray Galton penned for the stage the last of the Steptoes, set in 2005, with an aged Harold in his 70s returning to an Oil Drum Lane now the property of the National Trust. Towards the end of the original series Harold was all set to finally leave his awful father with Joyce, only for Steptoe snr to reveal she was in fact his sister. The play covers much alluded to or shown in the series, from Harold’s captivity by his father (literally so in the war) to the affair with Joyce, and in this we learn that in the end they might have made it rich since amongst all the junk they had in their possession a rare Gutenberg Bible. Fearing to lose Harold Steptoe snr hides it and Harold finally inflamed beyond all reason kills his father, fleeing to Rio. Now in 2005 he returns, only to be visited by the ghost of old Steptoe. He too dies in the end, furious again when he discovers the bible was not after all lost, of a heart attack.
He is discovered by Joyce, now a nun, who makes sure Harold is buried next to old Steptoe and the two ghosts now trapped together fade away arguing over where they’ll end up, but certainly, and horribly, together.
And how marvellous is that?
With any luck then we’ll be due for a third series of Spaced by 2028.