Steptoe and Son: Secrets & Scandals brings revelations about a Labour leader asking the BBC for a big favour, a Met Police vice squad operation actively targeting celebrities, and a descent into alcoholism that almost tore apart the biggest sitcom in Britain.
This revelatory documentary uncovers eye-opening stories about the significance of the show and the truth of what went on behind the scenes.
It features contributions from actor and comedian John Thomson (who played Harold Steptoe in a radio adaptation), legendary agent Tessa Le Bars (who was the widow of Steptoe co-creator Alan Simpson), actor Madeline Smith (definitely the only former Bond girl to go on to appear in Steptoe) and TV historians Dick Fiddy and Graham McCann.
The show documents a remarkable tale of political fixing, the BBC and the power of Steptoe and Son. With remarkable first-hand sources, the documentary reveals a political intervention that may have landed Labour a general election majority, all by shifting a broadcast of Steptoe and Son.
The documentary also uncovers some remarkable truths about the arrest of co-star Wilfred Brambell for ‘importuning persistently for immoral purposes’. It also reveals details of the behaviour of both Brambell and the vice squad that led to his arrest, and the extraordinary way in which the BBC decided to tackle one of its biggest stars being arrested in a men’s toilet.
Among other insights are an expletive-laden rant that caused a diplomatic incident during a foreign tour, and how the show changed Britain’s attitudes to swearing.
Steptoe and Son: Secrets & Scandals airs on Channel 5 at 9:20pm
This Steptoe documentary is followed at 10:15pm by Steptoe and Son: The Movie (1972)
After trying to avoid his father’s influences, trouble awaits when Harold decides to get married.