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TV Shows "borrowing" from steptoe and son.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:14 am
by taylorslade
Hi guys...

I've noticed many examples of well-known TV shows borrowing ideas from Steptoe, please list any instances where you have noticed this...I will start by , in my opinion - the biggest example.

The Character of Frankie Barrow (sp?).

Local hoodlum which made multiple appearances in Steptoe and son. It might be just me, or does this Character share more than a passing resemblance to Del boy Trotter? I myself am in no doubt that John Sullivan based the Del Boy character on Barrow for the following reasons...

The ridiculous dress sense
The physical stature of Barrow
Frankie Barrow often uses terrible grammar which in the show is used for gags
And the last reason backs up my point the most...
The use of absurd French Phrases...this especially is something which John Sullivan gets particular praise for even though it was done more than 10 years before in Steptoe.

Now, I realise that all TV shows tend to lend ideas here and there...but in my opinion this is bordering on plaigarism, especially when Sullivan has never made ANY attempt to acknowledge where he has obviously taken these ideas from. Now, Sullivan might dispute this...but I think this simply cannot be an incredible coincidence...nor can any of the other ideas which he and other shows have borrowed from Steptoe and son...imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yes....but at least acknowledge where you got the ideas from.

Anyone else noticed the other examples?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:13 am
by Rian
I love Only Fools to bits but i also think that is a complete copy of Steptoe & Son in some ways,it should be seen as a positive thing though now :)

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:25 am
by bob
The Fools and Horsed comparison is an interesting one.

I don't believe that John Sullivan knowingly copied Steptoe, but the influence is unmissable.


PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:41 pm
by taylorslade
Another example is in "Cuckoo in the nest" When Albert's long lost son arrives....when Albert introduces Harold to his estranged Half-brother he casually says something like "Oh yeah...Harold...this is your Brother!"...

This is a direct mirror image of the Only Fools episode "Thicker than water" when Del and Rodney's father turns up. Even the exact same line is used with the exact same casual manner which makes the gag what it is..."Oh let me introduce you...Rodney ...this is your Dad."

More than a co-incidence I think.

I agree Only fools mirrored in many ways Steptoe. I am a huge fan on OFAH but it really gets my blood boiling when Sullivan gets all the praise and OFAH is constantly on the TV where Steptoe is seemingly shunned and RARELY ever on the box.

Everyone seems to bang on about the quality of the writing on OFAH....whilst it is great writing by Sullivan....Galton and Simpson were MUCH better as essentially Steptoe was two men on a set with brilliant acting. Only fools never came anywhere close.

There's my rant over! hehe...I will post more example which backs up my original point guys...stay tuned!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:20 pm
by Rich
I'm glad you posted this. When I read the title, OFAH instantly came to my mind of 'borrowing' from Steptoe. It's not just OFAH either, there are a lot or popular shows/sitcomms that that did this.

As said above, I don't know if this is a bad thing or good. I think it shows the quality and high level Steptoe set, but its a bit annoying when no credit is given and the other show's take the glory :(

tv shows "borrowing" from steptoe and son

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:14 pm
by harold
i do not know if this fits this topic but sanford and son was supposed to be based on steptoe and son but sanford and son is not a patch on steptoe and son even the galton and simpson scripts they americanized do not measure up so having seen both shows steptoe and son is far better then sanford and son i wish more of us yanks knew about steptoe and son again i love steptoe and son it will always be number one to me

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:54 pm
by PhilGlass
Bob -

You said you don't know if John SUllivan deliberately based OFAH on Steptoe...

On the OFAH Box set is a special program called 'The Only Fools and Horses Story' which was also shown on TV. This includes a clip from 'The Offer' where John Sullivan says how he was inspired by that episode and loved the way it used drama with the comedy and that he DID take his inspiration from our favourite totters.

The actual; del boy image was created by David Jason but the characters are very much like ALbert and Harold, but also in my opinion distinct enough to be classed as a new creation. It was Steptoe for a modern age..

Steptoe mentions....

A song by The Beautiful SOuth called 'My Book' mentions Albert Steptoe in the lyrics!

This is my life and this is how it reads
A documentary that nobody believes
Albert Steptoe in 'Gone with the Breeze'
Mother played by Peter Beardsley, father by John Cleese

I think this is one of the most bizarre references!

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:45 pm
by steve sheffield
Just regarding "The chain gang" in only fools and horses.
I think this is the most closest case of being borrowed from Steptoe and Son.
There are two episodes of Steptoe where Harold gets ripped off by the origional seller coming back and offering Harold a better offer, and having (another buyer) only for Harold to fall for it.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 8:55 pm
by steve sheffield
In Steptoe and son ride again Harold runs into the graveyard and stops at the wrong funeral. Very similar to Del boy and family going to the wrong uncle albert funeral.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:51 am
by bob

I am becomming more and more convinced about this Fools and Horses - Steptoe thing.

I plan to put someting on the home page to keep the discussion going, but here is something to think about :

The Steptoe's are rag and bone men, otherwise known as "Totters", Del Boy and Rodney's are of course the "Trotters". .... Was something Freudian going on in John Sullivan's mind ?

Keep the posts comming.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:05 pm
by PhilGlass
Maybe we are reading a little too much into it - or maybe not.

I think it is an honour to Steptoe and Son that fools and horses was based so close. Another big resemblance is several episodes where Del is trying to manipulate Rodders and pretends to be deeply offended and hurt, whle we see him smiling because its all an act.... And of course the constant references to their dead Mother, who Rodney doesn't remember.

Of course, OFAH gave us Uncle Albert played by the genius called Buster Merryfield. He was a one of a kind character and played by a fantastic actor.

One glaring difference is that OFAH moved the character on. It ran for a lot longer than Steptoe but I could not imagine it working if either Harold or Albert did re-marry. But I'm sure Ray and Alan would have produced the goods as always!

Very interesting topic!

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:13 am
"galton and simpson did write the foreward to the only fools and horses book i do like only fools haveing meet some of the stars from the show. but they should have left it in 1996 it was crap when it came back. but i lkie the green green grass the spin off. nick :D

PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:13 pm
by taylorslade
Also another "co-incidence" is in 'Back in Fashion' where harold is examining a table he picked up on the round and sees "fyfes bananas" on the underside of the table, indicatin it was made from a banana box....OFAH done the exact same thing in an episode where Del boy was selling an object claiming to be a queen ann cabinet.


PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:19 pm
by PhilGlass
There are many other memorable father / son characters, but I think because Steptoe was so well done and Ray and Alan thought of just about everything that thee will always be glaring similarities - Who remembers 'Home To Roost'?? That has the same love hate relationship.

I think we should recognise the difference between a similar idea, a tribute and blatant rip offs.

Either way, my favourite will always be Steptoe and Son. It is a classic and I will neevr tire of it.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:10 pm
by steve sheffield
Watched the episode " Full House" last night for the first time and again I knew what was coming before it happened. How you may ask? Well you see, albert is taking it easy while harold is out at work, then as harold comes thru' the front door albert jumps up and starts pretending he's doing the housework. Then as harold quizzes albert on what he's been doing all day he runs his hand down the chair and realises it's warm so albert must have been sat there for a while!
Now I don't know which episode of ofah its from but del and uncle albert do exactly the same! Deja-vu?