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Steptoe and Son (1972)

Harold Steptoe (Harry H. Corbett) has just been divorced. It was not a happy marriage, and as he leaves the courts with his father, Albert (Wilfrid Brambell) he pins the blame for the failure firmly on him for sabotaging what he viewed as his one chance at happiness.

Pausing briefly to deal with a parking ticket they have noticed stuck on the horse of their rag and bone cart, they begin the weary journey home, and on the way Harold grows ever more discontented, flicking V-signs at a carload of nuns who beep their horns at them.

As they continue on their journey, Harold reflects on what brought him to this sorry state of affairs . . .

The woman who captured Harold’s heart is Zita (Carolyn Seymour), a stripper he meets at a football club night out, and she is charmed by him when he buys her a large gin and tonic in the near-empty bar while she prepares for her act. They get to talking, and before you know it he is seeing her after she’s performed as well, and he escorts her home.

Meanwhile, Albert thinks he has a chance with what he does not realise is a female impersonator (Patrick Fyffe). With unlikely haste, Harold and Zita are in love and engaged, so you can imagine how well the prospective father-in-law (Fred McNaughton) takes that news.

After a mishap with the ring on the wedding day leads both Steptoes to attend the service stinking of horseshit, the happy couple heads off on their honeymoon to Spain. Albert tags along, gets food poisoning and forces Harold to take him home, thereby breaking up the marriage before it has even had a chance to bloom.

By 1972, practically every British sitcom was being translated to the big screen, and the classic Steptoe and Son received not one but two cinematic releases. This, the first one, is the more maudlin of the two.

Alas, neither of the movie versions – the second, Steptoe and Son Ride Again, was released in 1973 – lived up to the superb series, as was the case with many of these adaptations.

Albert Steptoe
Wilfrid Brambell
Harold Kitchener Steptoe
Harry H. Corbett
Carolyn Seymour
Arthur Howard
Victor Maddern
Fred Griffiths
Zita’s mother
Joan Heath
Zita’s father
Fred McNaughton
Lon Satton
Patrick Fyffe
Mrs Hobbs
Patsy Smart
Mike Reid

Cliff Owen