The Very Best of Steptoe and Son
is wonderful collection of "Steptoe" moments...but not entirely what it claims to be. This selection, is in fact a collection of five episodes from the two surviving series of the four shot in colour in the 1970s--the four black and white series shot in the 1960s are neglected entirely. However by the 1970s, Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett had been playing Albert and Harold Steptoe for almost a decade and the parts of the greedy needy old man and his witty feeble son were second nature to them. One of the best episodes on show here is "The Desperate Hours", which sets the father and son duo off against a similar couple--Leonard Rossiter's escaped bank robber and the old lag who taught him everything he knows--both couples come to understand the shared dynamic of their relationships. The 1970s episodes included more external shots and opened the show out from its original two-hander format--"Oh What a Beautiful Mourning", for example, introduces us to a large selection of the Steptoe clan, played by a variety of well known character actors.
On the DVD: The DVD is presented in a standard television 4:3 aspect ratio and adds the luxury of Dolby Sound to the show's original mono; the Ron Grainger signature tune has never sounded so good. There are no subtitles, but the DVD includes a short account of the two stars' careers and an extended interview in which Galton and Simpson, the scriptwriters, talk about the history of the show from its origin as a one-off Comedy Playhouse episode through to the eventual decision that after the eighth series it was time to call it a day. --Roz Kaveny
Five classic episodes of the popular rag and bone sitcom. In 'Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs', Harold has to look after Albert when the old man slips a disc. 'The Bath' sees Harold's romantic date ruined by his father eating pickles in the bath in the living room. In 'Porn Yesterday', Harold picks up an old 'What the Butler Saw' machine on his round, while 'Seance in a Wet Rag and Bone Yard' sees Albert talking to the spirits. In 'And So to Bed', Harold buys a waterbed to ensure success with his girlfriend Marcia.