"Steptoe and Son" by Ray Galton
In 1962, a new sitcom single-handedly brought the gritty realism of kitchen-sink drama into the arena of comedy. Deliberately casting actors instead of professional comedians, Steptoe and Son offered a brand-new kind of humour, trading on, and becoming an icon of, the political unrest and post-war disillusionment of Sixties Britain. 'Harold Pinter with shorter pauses', as one critic wrote. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the ever-popular comedy series, and provides a perfect occasion for a book dedicated to enhancing fans' understanding of every aspect of this national institution. Fully authorised by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, the book chronicles the life of the programme in a biography format, based around exclusive interviews with the show's creators, as well as surviving members of the cast and crew, and illustrated with never-before-published photos from the BBC archive. Behind-the-scenes secrets, unearthed from official BBC correspondence, reveal how Wilfrid Brambell's old man Steptoe was almost killed off after the first series, and how a swinging Sixties icon was almost drafted in as a hip new 'son' for the programme.