Steptoe & Son co-creator Ray Galton has died aged 88

British comedy writer Ray Galton who created Steptoe & Son and Hancock’s Half Hour with scriptwriting partner Alan Simpson dies aged 88

  • Ray Galton died following a long battle with dementia his family has announced
  • Mr Galton met his writing partner Alan Simpson while in hospital as a teenager
  • The pair were both recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Surrey
  • Galton and Simpson are widely considered the godfathers of situation comedy 

Ray Galton, one half of the Galton and Simpson writing duo who created ground-breaking sitcoms including Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe & Son, has died aged 88, his family has announced. 

His writing partner Alan Simpson died in February 2017. 

The pair met while in hospital and wrote Hancock’s Half Hour for Tony Hancock. 

Ray Galton, pictured left, with his writing partner Alan Simpson outside Tony Hancock’s house in London has died aged 88, his family has announced

Galton, left, and Simpson, right, pictured with Frankie Howard collaborated with the comedian for his BBC TV series in December 1964

The pair, pictured here, first met in in hospital where Simpson, left, was recovering from TB

Comedian Nick Pegg said: ‘Raising a glass to the mighty Ray Galton, who with his partner Alan Simpson, created as much laughter as any writer who ever drew breath’

The show originally was broadcast on the radio before moving to television in 1956. 

The pair later collaborated on Steptoe & Son.

The iconic scriptwriter died last night after a ‘long and heartbreaking battle with dementia’.

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His family released a statement saying: ‘Ray passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family.

‘We respectfully request there are no attempts to contact the Galton family home at this time.’

Mr Galton’s family said the script writer died following a long battle with dementia 

His manager Tessa Le Bars said: ‘I have had the great honour of working with Ray for over 50 years and for the last 40 as his manager and friend.

‘With his lifelong co-writer, the late Alan Simpson, they were regarded as the fathers and creators of British sitcom.

‘The end of an iconic era, but the legacy of Hancock’s Half Hour, Steptoe and Son and over 600 scripts is huge.

‘They will endure, inspire and bring laughter to the nation for evermore.’  

Actor, writer and presenter David Walliams praised Mr Galton for his inspirational work, saying that he and his onscreen comedy partner Matt Lucas had cherished meeting the pioneering TV writers.

He described Mr Galton and Mr Simpson as ‘the masters’, adding: ‘What an incredible body of work Ray Galton has left us with. Some of the greatest TV comedy ever written, ‘Hancock’ & ‘Steptoe & Son’ are still the gold standard of sitcoms.

‘Matt & I got to spend time with him & Alan Simpson. I was in complete & utter awe.’

Meanwhile, Emmy award winning comedy writer and producer Simon Blackwell tweeted: ‘Very sad indeed to hear that Ray Galton has died. He and Alan reached such heights in terms of structure and character.

‘Steptoe is as profound as Ibsen, and he never had an old bloke in a sink scrubbing his nuts with Ajax.’

The pair, pictured in 1970, first met as teenagers while recovering from TB at Milford Sanatorium in Surrey

Hancock’s Half Hour was written for comedian Tony Hancock, left, and featured, Moira Lester, Bill Kerr and Sid James, right, and was considered the first true situation comedy

Mr Galton, pictured at Mr Simpson’s funeral in February 2017, battled with dementia for years

The pair met at Milford Sanatorium in Surrey when both were diagnosed with tuberculosis as teenagers.

As well as work with Tony Hancock and Steptoe actors Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell, they wrote television, film and stage scripts for the likes of Frankie Howerd, Peter Sellers, Leonard Rossiter and Arthur Lowe.

Their work is still screened regularly around the world in English and in foreign language versions.

Steptoe and Son was adapted for US TV as Sanford and Son and ran for several years in the 1970s on NBC. 

The much-loved show Steptoe & Son happened after Mr Galton came up with the idea of a comedy series about two rag and bone men.

It featured a ‘dirty old man’, Albert Steptoe who was played by Wilfrid Brambell, and his frustrated son, Harold – played by Harry H Corbett.

Critics lauded the ‘sad, tragic and funny’ sitcom, which ran for eight series, spawned two feature films and ended with a 1974 Christmas special.

Mr Galton and Mr Simpson were honoured with lifetime achievement awards from the Writers’ Guild in 1997, and OBEs in 2000.

The pair also received the Bafta Fellowship, the Academy’s highest honour, in 2016. 


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