In the early 1960s aspiring stage actor Harry H. Corbett jumps at the chance to play junk-dealer Harold Steptoe in a television comedy show 'Steptoe and Son'. However, the show's success proves to be a poisoned chalice for him, type-casting him and thwarting his stage ambitions. Wilfrid Brambell, the actor playing his father, is marginalized in a different way. He is a gay man in an England where homosexuality is still illegal. Written by
Did You Know?
The brother of Harry H. Corbett
's second widow, Maureen, complained to the BBC that the timeline portrayed in the film was wildly misleading and gave the impression that i) Maureen's affair with Harry may have led to the break-up of his first marriage with Sheila Steafel
which was not the case, and ii) Harry's decision not to make any more episodes of Steptoe and Son
(1962) coincided with the birth of his and Maureen's first child, whereas the birth had happened eight years before the end of Steptoe. The BBC upheld these complaints and agreed not to repeat the film unless it was edited to remove these misleading errors. See more
Directly after the 1962 awards ceremony, Corbett does his impersonation of Harold Wilson with reference to his White Heat of Technology speech. Wilson did not become Prime Minister for another two years and the White Heat speech was even later. However, the writer made this 'error' quite deliberately. He took dramatic license. Dates were fudged throughout the piece, so though the award ceremony was in fact held in 1962, the film avoids placing it in time. Harry's party trick was his Harold Wilson impression; that was the most appropriate moment in the piece to give him the chance to do his thing. See more
References Dixon of Dock Green