Local gangster Frankie Barrow is running a protection racket and demands money from the Steptoes. Harold believes they need someone to defend them like in that film 'The Seven'... 'The ... See full summary »




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Episode cast overview:
Harry H. Corbett ...
Wilfrid Brambell ...
Henry Woolf ...
Bill Weston
Stuart Fell
Paddy Ryan
Tony Smart
Billy Horrigan
Doug Robinson ...
Gang Member (as Dougie Robinson)
Marc Boyle
Tim Condren ...
(as Tim Condron)
Aubrey Danvers-Walker
Ernest C. Jennings ...
(as Ernest Jennings)
David J. Grahame ...
(as David J. Graham)


Local gangster Frankie Barrow is running a protection racket and demands money from the Steptoes. Harold believes they need someone to defend them like in that film 'The Seven'... 'The Seven Year Itch?' suggests Albert. No, 'The Seven Samurai'. Albert assembles Shepherd's Bush's own answer to the Seven Samurai. They might be ancient but they see off Barrow and his heavies all right. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

25 September 1974 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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References Enter the Dragon (1973) See more »

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The Battle Of Oil Drum Lane!
7 February 2009 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

Season 8 of 'Steptoe & Son' saw some classic episodes such as 'And So To Bed' and 'Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs', but also one or two below-par efforts such as 'Back In Fashion' and this one.

It begins with Albert emerging from a cinema showing 'Enter The Dragon' starring Bruce Lee. His attempts to mimic one of the action scenes result in a passer-by getting accidentally thumped in the stomach.

Harold has brought home what he thinks is a priceless Oriental vase. His joy is compounded when his father finds the word 'Han' inscribed on the base. But there's more: 'Ley'. Hanley near Stoke-On-Trent is famous for making toilets. Harold is gutted, having paid £25 for the thing.

A knock on the front door signals the arrival of Frankie Barrow ( Henry Woolf ), Shepherd's Bush's answer to 'The Godfather', newly released from prison. Barrow has gone into the insurance business ( a.k.a. the protection racket ) and gets the Steptoes to take out a policy. When Harold refuses, Barrow's thugs smash the vase. Reluctantly, Harold signs the contract. From now on, he will have to pay £15 ( a lot of money then ) a week to Barrow.

Harold cannot go to the police as Barrow's insurance company is officially registered with the Board of Trade ( I doubt whether an ex-con would be allowed to set up an insurance company so soon after being released, but we'll let that pass ).

So what to do? Albert tells Harold not to worry, as he has friends who know a thing or two about kung fu...

The kung fu craze swept across the world in the early '70's. You could watch 'Kung Fu' ( starring David Carradine ) on television, see it at the cinema in films such as 'The Big Boss' and 'Fists Of Fury', read comics with titles such as 'Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu', listen to Carl Douglas singing 'Kung Fu Fighting', eat 'Kung Fu' crisps, and watch a children's cartoon called 'Hong Kong Phooey'. It was everywhere.

However, 'Steptoe & Son' does seem an odd place to spoof the genre. The climactic kung fu fight ( arranged by Bill Weston and directed by Mike Crisp ) is well staged, but jars with the show's realistic tone. Perhaps Ray and Alan were running low on ideas by this time.

Diminutive Henry Woolf plays 'Frankie Barrow'. With his whining voice, red shirt, slicked-back hair and bow tie ( which resembles a dead butterfly stapled to his collar ), he is a ludicrous figure who somehow manages to be intimidating. The actor ( also a playwright ) appeared the following year in Eric Idle's seminal sketch show 'Rutland Weekend Television' and was 'The Collector' in the 1978 'Dr.Who' story 'The Sunmakers'. Barrow had menaced Harold and Albert the year before in the movie 'Steptoe & Son Ride Again'.

When Barrow orders his thugs to smart smashing things, the comedy stops suddenly ( it did for me anyhow ).

The title - and indeed the plot - comes from Akiro Kurosawa's classic 'The Seven Samurai', made in 1954.

Funniest moment - as Frankie's boys start breaking things, Harold discreetly hides the goldfish bowl!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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