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Response to the "When Steptoe Met Son" page.

Postby PhilGlass » Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:40 pm

Bob,

(Some of this has been corrected from the email I sent you...)

Great work on your extremely interesting new website page. What a brilliant and fascinating addition to the site - personally I would rather every copy simply be burned, but in gathering an all round view of Steptoe, it is, unfortunately, neccessary.

A wonderful job you have done on the page!

You mention the innaccuracies of Wilfrid's wife - however, I think you underplay the fact - firstly, they claim he was married at the time of being arrested. Untrue. He divorced in 1953 after just 6 years of marriage. The reason he never saw her again? She died LESS THAN 3 YEARS LATER. MARY "Molly Josephine" Hall (to use her full name - this is all accoring to the Brambell family tree which is online and compiled by a distant relative who has traced his ancestors) divorced in 1953 and died in 1956. No wonder he never saw her again, what was he meant to bloody do, dig her up? But they twist this fact and stongly imply she was married to him at the time "waiting at home for him was a wife..." Bullshit.

The 'baby' was also about 2 years old when Wilfrid disccovered that the child was not his - that's a long time to love, nurse and raise a child only to find out he isn't your son. That must have hurt him.

So Wilfrid told someone to F Off.. sounds to me from Wilfrid's story the guy needed to F off!!!

Also, the Steptoe show ran for 80 minutes not the 40 they claim on screen, but that's really just nit-picking. Kevin O'Neil should be ashamed of himself. Harry did several successful tours for him, lining his pockets with a fair few bank notes. I have somewhere, which I will find, a cutting from the time H did the 1972 tour of "The Last of The Red Hot Lovers" where he talks about the tour and what a great and trusted friend his tour manager was, and for that tour it was Kevin o'Neil. He sounds like a prick to me.

And did we really need a close up of a toilet flushing??

As for his arrest, they make great use of the word "impertuning". Let us not forget, in 1962 any form of homosexuality was illegal. Two adult men meet, fall in love, wish to have a relationship - illegal. However, they give it a different twist, implying almost that he went looking for a male prostitute, which of course is still an illegal act today. Perhaps this is why his partner, Yussof Bin Mat Saman (according to Wilfrid's will) has never spoken of it - he came to live with Wilfrid, as I understand, whilst homosexuality was still illegal. I sent a polite letter and SAE asking if he could spare us all a few words, but I never heard back from him. I respect his privacy if that's how he wants it, though he must have been hurt by the crap these people were spreading.

Sorry to go on - this documentary has always got my back up - I am actually tempted, and seriously considering, putting together my production skills and producing a 45 min documentary called "When Steptoe Really Met Son" which answers this and the Curse of...

As for the so called "famous" footage of Wilfrid swearing - I totally don't put it past him, but they don't show this do they? Has anyone ever actually seen this with their own eyes? I have never met a living soul who has, so personally I will believe it when I see it.

They also met after the tour for the Ajax ads and the Kenco ad AND Night of 100 Stars 1980 (not Christmas Night with.. as I have previously listed on the site!). They clearly weren't very intelligent then if they hated each other were they?

Ok I'll stop now, I could go on for hours.

I think the page and your review is a good thing - it allows people who havent seen it to view it, and then taking in to account the information you have used, they can build up their own image of what the truth is, and hopefully this will stop the now "common knowledge" that actually very few people knew about before.

PLEASE NOTE: This post represents my own personal views and anything noted about any individual person is my own responsibility and www.albertandharold.co.uk has no liability for this!
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Postby bob » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:16 am

Phil

Thank you for taking the time to post this.

I thought your comments about Willy’s divorce and early death of his ex wife were very relevant and added to the points I raised in my review. I will take the time to update them at some stage with the points you raised.

They were the main issues I thought would be interesting on the forum, but keeping your very complimentary comments in about the whole piece was very kind of you

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Postby PhilGlass » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:43 pm

No worries Bob, I left those comments in because I meant them.

I have had mixed research over Wilfrid’s wife, some say she died 1953, the same year, others in 1956, I think it’s better to be too late than too soon, but either way she was long gone before his arrest. It is very clearly implied his is married at the time.

In his book, Wilfrid uses a comment of “a very tragic time” to mention 1953, but doesn’t delve in to detail. With respect to him, perhaps a better autobiography would have prevented such claims in the first place.

Let us also remember you can not sue the dead. Not one of these claims was made whilst either of them were alive, which makes you wonder why. If it is true, they would not have cared if they could have been sued or not would they, as they had proof of course.. unless they’re talking rubbish...

A “few” more notes...

So sorry, this will be another long one, I have listed EVERY inaccuracy that I have found, and I base my knowledge on cross-referenced research which can be shown in either footage or written form... I apologise profusely for the length of this, but hope it is of some interest...

1. Wilfrid disappeared from the show... okay, this proves one thing – that the tour manager was incompetent. Was there not a stage manager? It is his / her job to liaise with the actors during the show to see to their needs. If Wilfrid managed to escape and not arrive on stage at the appropriate time, this means Kevin O’Neil was incompetent at his job. If he WAS competent, this could never have happened. So thanks Kevin for pointing that out.

2. Who was the woman WIlfrid went to visit at this time? Of course, she’s not actually interviewed... surprise surprise... why not? Because she doesn’t exist? I wonder... if she does exist, why wasn’t her reason for not giving the story herself explained in the documentary?

3. “From the start they had a mutual hatred...” so from 1959 then when they appeared in a film together? No? What? Yes, they were both in “The Torrents of Spring”. Harry, in 1967, described the rehearsal method for this, how the entire cast were brought together and improvised – the entire cast mixing and getting under the skin of the film. Therefore, it is impossible that they did not meet. Yet they imply they only met through Steptoe. Perhaps their researcher has never heard of Google.

4. They never socialised – yet the documentary itself (if we must call it that) uses several pictures of Harry and Wilfrid together in private moments – so the producer is saying he has faked these pictures then? Otherwise he is a liar, it has to be one or the other. They actually reunited many times for charity gigs, which Pathe News footage proves.

5. They never socialised in Australia – Harry refused to travel with him – okay, so where does the Maureen Corbett footage come from, that shows them together? There is a lot of footage showing them socialising, travelling, hanging out. They openly admit in an interview that they travel together – okay, I agree this could be a show for the cameras, but anyone who has seen the Society’s interview with Harry’s wife and has seen the footage will know they did socialise... it is there on the screen.. so the producer is saying this is fake is he?? Or is he saying he couldn’t be bothered to do his job properly and research it? I ask the producer to clarify this for me please...

6. “Brambell’s secret sex life..”... okay, does the Producer reveal anything about his own sex life in the film, or has he ever? No? So he has kept it secret.. ok.. so THE PRODUCER OF THIS SHOW HAS “A SECRET SEX LIFE”... Does that make him a pervert then under his implications, I wonder. Wilfrid would have been classed as a pervert had he bragged about his sex life which he didn’t, as it was no-one’s business. I wonder if someone should do a documentary about the producer, after all, his sex life is secret, so is it sordid?

7. “Harry had a string of girlfriends”... good on him!!! The lucky sod. They don’t say he was married at the time, so he’s single and successful. Amazingly, none of them are interviewed, yet someone knew them all so well she gave them lifts from the airport... really? So did you sit in silence? How very rude and ignorant of you... no, you chatted and you’re not rude? That means you got to know them so getting an interview was no problem... so why weren’t they interviewed??? Do they live at 12 Fake Street, Made-up Land?? It seems many people referenced in this documentary might!!

8. Wilfrid wore bright clothes – wow. Arrest anyone who has ever been a victim of the fashion police. This doesn’t imply anything, other than he needed to change tailors!

9. Wilfrid kept himself to himself – yes, that was so unscrupulous, incompetent and talentless bastards of documentary makers couldn’t twist the facts he did make clear and make them sound sordid... oh, hang on a minute..

10. “20 minutes is a long time to spend in a toilet...” Has he never eaten Indian food? “Usually seconds not minutes?” wow!! I must be homosexual, thanks for the tip off. It took me 5 minutes last time... oh no... ooo er...

11. “Waiting at home was a wife..” see previous post... Wilfrid was a divorced, single man at the time.

12. “Wilfrid didn’t know his lines...” so he was the first actor in history to make a mistake?? Two glaring issues need to be made here – the first is that if you watch Steptoe, Harry makes as many mistakes, so why wasn’t this mentioned. Secondly, this looks bad on the director, not Wilfrid. Why weren’t pick-ups and re-takes done? Don’t blame the carpenter because his saw is blunt. He should sharpen it. Both actors had an amazing reputation on stage, Wilfrid was very sought after and did many stage shows, but could never learn his lines? Any competent tour manager (are you listening Kevin?) would not stand for that. Yet his stage career was very fruitful.

13. David Mills... Wilfrid confided in him in Hong Kong and stayed with someone called Ralph Pixton?? Wilfrid had his own place there. He was filming over there? The only film known that WIlfrid made there was “The Temperance Seven In Hong Kong” and members of the group say they went to Wilfrid’s own apartment over there... Wilfrid made NO secret of his life there – in fact, his 1976 autobiography runs the risk of getting boring on the subject – why would he mention it all if he was so ashamed? We all go publishing the things in life we are ashamed of don’t we?... don’t we???? Oh.... By the way, who had ever heard of Ralph Pixton before this?? No, me neither...

14. There are homosexuals in Hong Kong.... are the really? Well I never!! So there are NO gay people in the producer’s home town? If so, then under his interpretation, he only goes there looking for gay sex. This is His interpretation and not mine.

15. They all impersonate the things he says in the Albert Steptoe voice... we all know Wilfrid did not speak like this – if their stories are true, they know this. None of these quotes are character quotes, so he would have spoken in his own voice.

16. These people are their dear “friends”... really? Then you will be appalled to take money from a producer to talk about them so if you message me with proof of what charity your fee (of any was received) went to then I will gladly publish this... I would not talk about my friends on camera.

17. One minute Wilfrid is ashamed of being Homosexual – the nest he’s bragging in a restaurant “he’s a nice boy”... I thought he was ashamed and disgusted by it... why brag then?

18. Harry was typecast as Steptoe? Yes and no. Harry was his own worst enemy here – even Galton and Simpson have said that when they were recruited to rescue the “Mr Aitch” series (which at one point was the most watched program of 1967) they realised Harry could “only play one part”. Harry was capable of playing many parts, but often seemed to drift in to Steptoe at his own will. He also gave mixed views on Steptoe, telling some he was proud of it and that Harold was 90% him, telling others there was none of him in Harold and that he regretted it. It is wrong to blame the show. This comment is not meant as a slur on Harry H. Corbett’s acting.

19. In “Mr Aitch” he was asked to play it like Steptoe? No, Harry DEVELOPED the series – he devised it, he had his own production company. The character was created 100% by Harry H. Corbett, the writers and directors simply provided the dialogue and the actions. Harry knew people liked his light entertainment persona and he was happy to give them that. As for “being cancelled after one series”, this ran for 13 episodes – which is 2 series in the way Steptoe and most other series were made. Just because ITV decided to show them all at once, Harry shouldn’t be blamed.

20. “Harry had no other strings to his bow – didn’t have a song...” So he was just an actor eh? How come he did a 12-week concert tour in 1974 with The Faraway Folk? He was paid £1000 a week for the show, when the average, according to the band, was £500. How come he released 27 songs, which includes 1 album and 7 singles? How come he was a Director at the Worksop theatre and directed the Steptoe and Son Australian show??

21. 2 minutes of research proves the actors were not out of work after Steptoe. I wonder how many of these interviewees were out of work at the time they were interviewed.. (remind me, what has Kevin O’Neil done lately...??

22. O’Neil claims it was his wife who suddenly had the idea of bringing Steptoe to the stage, just because it was popular... he had worked with Harry in many occasions before. Steptoe as never mentioned in conversation? But you said he couldn’t escape the role, yet you nor anyone involved with your production never mentioned it... that’s strange...

23. 5 month tour of Australia? No, a year and a half. Three individual tours – one of Aus, one of New Zealand, and one of English theatres when they returned to England, though this was the shortest.

24. “London Bridge is falling down...” not according to Ray and Alan it isn’t..

25. “The show was rubbish”... yes, unlike the blockbuster theatre hits these unheard of people have written.. oh hang on they haven’t written anything better have they? My mistake...

26. “The venues were rubbish..” so the tour manager is once more incompetent then, as he picked the venues. He seems to prove his own inability to do his job a lot in this show, if he was competent, the venues would not have been crap.

27. “They did it for the cash...” this comes from Ray and Alan. At the time Wilfrid was, pro rata, earning more than any of the stars of the films he was in – per minute, he was almost always the highest paid – no doubt why he was only used for small bit parts. The first actor ever in Britain to get £1000 for a half hour show – he died in 1985 leaving £180 000 and a fully paid for central London flat – an amount considered a small fortune in 1985. Harry died in 1982 leaving £170 000 as well as owning a central London apartment, a farm and farmhouse in Hastings, a sports car, as well as having a wife and two children. Yes, sounds like they were toasting their own fingers for food doesn’t it...

28. Wilf let rip on New Zealand TV... Well, they did make many appearances on Australian / NZ tv shows (but I thought they refused to work together?), and Wilfrid was a very outspoken gent, but the documentary fails to show this footage that apparently we have all seen. Other show footage does show Wilfrid’s inability to judge an audience’s sense of humour and his fondness for language, using the word “arse2 on The Mike Walsh morning show, but this footage they mention when he insults their cathederals and town has never been shown since, if in fact it did exist. He says the police were there and authorities were there... wow, that was quick!! Because a man swore. The crime rate in New Zealand must have been zero – no murders or anything because the police had nothing better to do than attend the scene where a crime hadn’t actually been committed.

29. Wilfrid refused an autograph because he didn’t have a pen – what’s with the many many personal letters Wilfrid has written over the years which can easily be viewed on ebay and other sites? Wilfrid has never otherwise been reported (nor has Harry) for refusing to sign an autograph. In fact, he often wrote detailed, personalised handwritten letters back to fans.

30. They conveniently use the Australian home movie footage of Harry, forgetting to include the scenes of them together.

31. They returned on separate planes... of course. Wilfrid went from New Zealand to his home in Hong Kong, Harry returned to the UK. That was one crap airline if the same plane went both ways. This also implies they only made one visit. On the way to Australia for the first tour (let’s not forget there was more than one) they decided to travel together knowing that the press would be waiting for them and would want to see them together.

32. They never worked together again after.... no except for... The filming of the Ajax adverts, The Scotland Today “Scotch on the Rocks” radio sketch of Steptoe, A Night of 100 Stars 1980 and the filming of the Kenco Advert...

33. Harry died in 1985... this shows how little research was done. Type “Harry H. Corbett” in to google and the previews alone give the year he died. This is not nit picking, it shows that either no effort was made to research it, or they had an illiterate monkey do the research. Wilf apparently died 2 years later (making it 1987) but it was in fact 3 years, and he died in 1985. This final mistake shows the care that was put in to the documentary.

I hope this was all of some interest. Sorry for hogging the forum!
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Postby Dirty Old Yank » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:03 pm

all of great interest Phil, impressive research.
the funny bits didn't hurt neither! :D
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Postby PhilGlass » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:34 pm

Dirty Old Yank - did you edit out the bit where you originally said it was a bit sarky?

Because no offence was taken, I intended it to be sarky!! :)

Glad you found it informative and funny. I hope it doesn't come across as too angry, as that program gets my blood boiling it really does!!

:)
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Postby Dirty Old Yank » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:42 pm

Yeah i removed the sarcy bit, a bit late it seems. oops.
i didn't say it was sarcy, i originally closed with, "some might say sarcy, but it doesn't read that way :D" meaning i didn't interpret it that way.
of course i know you meant to be sarcy, but i didn't want you to get the wrong idea, those bits are very funny, so i edited it out.
easier for me to laugh i suppose because i've not seen the show, and based on what i've been reading i'm glad i haven't!
somebody sure fouled the ball alright, an incredible disservice to 2 brilliant performers. what troubles me particularly is all the fuss over Wilfrid's sexuality. it's the 21st century, who gives a toss anymore? as if it were anyone's business in the first place. oh well, glad to see the dvd has been pulled from the market.
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Postby PhilGlass » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:14 am

Dirty Old Yank wrote:Yeah i removed the sarcy bit, a bit late it seems. oops.
i didn't say it was sarcy, i originally closed with, "some might say sarcy, but it doesn't read that way :D" meaning i didn't interpret it that way.
of course i know you meant to be sarcy, but i didn't want you to get the wrong idea, those bits are very funny, so i edited it out.
easier for me to laugh i suppose because i've not seen the show, and based on what i've been reading i'm glad i haven't!
somebody sure fouled the ball alright, an incredible disservice to 2 brilliant performers. what troubles me particularly is all the fuss over Wilfrid's sexuality. it's the 21st century, who gives a toss anymore? as if it were anyone's business in the first place. oh well, glad to see the dvd has been pulled from the market.


The DVD was for "The Curse of Steptoe" a BBC drama. This is the documentary "When Steptoe met son" which to my knowledge has never been on DVD. Bob has loaded the entire thing on to this website and perhaps you should watch it to see for yourself - my opinion is of course slightly biased, though it is based upon long and extensive cross-referenced research.

His sexuality was a problem at the time as it was illegal. But you are right, nowadays isn't is compulsory for actors to be gay? It seems that way!

I'm surprised they didn't try and imply Harry had a problem with it, as there is of course no evidence that he did, but that wouldn't stop them, would it?
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Postby Dirty Old Yank » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:59 pm

oh nooooo, this is embarrassing!
i got the show wrong?
such are the benefits of not paying attention and then expressing an opinion, yes i thought you were describing "Curse of Steptoe." if i hadn't added that last bit i might have got away with it and no one the wiser. this may explain my frequent edits :oops:.
so there are actually 2 shows full of inaccuracies? difficult to imagine, no wonder i got it wrong.
i would watch "When Steptoe Met Son", but this computer doesn't allow for that, steam powered dontcha know. i gotta kick it to start it.
as to Wilfrid's private life, it's easy nowadays to forget homosexuality was illegal at the time, but i can't help thinking if Wilfrid chose not to discuss the matter then it shouldn't be open to journalistic conjecture. what purports to be journalism anyway.
hope i'm not off tack again, gonna read Bob's page straight away before i put my foot in my mouth. again :D
Last edited by Dirty Old Yank on Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PhilGlass » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:26 pm

I didn't mean to sound patronising and hope I didn't, I was jsut clarifying.

It's not embarassing at all - what's embarassing is that I have so much time on my hands and so little interesting things to do with that time that I have nothing else to do than sit and alayse programs like these!!!

This documentary "When Steptoe met Son" came first, broadcast on Channel 4 (so we should have known better!). It was this thnat was the basis of research for "The Curse of Steptoe".

Let's not get in to listing all the inaccuracies in that one just yet!!

Harry and Wilfrid will have the last laugh anyway, as long after this documentary and its director and producer have been forgotten, Harry and Wilfrid will still be entertaining millions of people across all generations. Thanks to people like us!!
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Postby Dirty Old Yank » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:00 pm

patronizing? not at all, hadn't even occurred to me :D
Last edited by Dirty Old Yank on Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Karl » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:24 pm

I saw "When Steptoe met son" when it was first broadcast on ch4,i have to say i didn't have as much info/knowledge about Harry & Wilf in those days as i do now,if i was to see it for the first time say today,my blood would be boiling as Phil's has obviously been since he saw it!
I'm personally fed up with having to tell people the truth,all i hear (if the subject arises) is how the two of them hated the sight of each other! We on here know the truth but the general public or friends,family only have a passing interest in Steptoe & son so it doesn't really matter to them what the truth is!
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Postby PhilGlass » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:21 pm

Firstly, I apologise for what may seem like hijacking of the forum. My posts on this have been long and hopefully interesting but perhaps not

This documentary infuriates me.

The obvious reason for this piece of junk is that scandal sells. I am sure at some point in our lives every single one of us has bought a newspaper because of a captivating headline... and this is why this program exists...

Let us make a trailer... Channel 4 presents.. a program about two jolly nice blokes who were, well, pretty jolly nice to each other, who did jolly nice things in a prgram about them doing the same things for 14 years. Sounds boring!!!

I have no problem with the truth about these men if it is the truth. If it transpired that under the truth this wall all very accurate then I would say well this is a true statement of who they were - they were by no means perfect, but what I can not stand is false journalism.

As someone with a master's degree in Video Production I've had my share of dealings with the TV world. They are all arseholes. Tis view is why I'm now counting out pennies in Tesco as I have given up many jobs as I believe being a decent human being is better than being an areshole, which means I cant work in television. as everyone I met was an arsehole.

I would like to reiterate, just to protect Bob and this wonderful site, that any person insults made in my posts are my person view and not the view of albertandharold.co.uk Not that any of the would sue me as they know they are lairs. There... sue me if it is not true...

I wrote to Kevin o'Neil, my letter was polite but to the point. He did not reply. Kevin, you are full of shit, sue me if I'm wrong, seriously, come on...
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Postby bob » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:57 am

Dear All

Thank you for a really interesting debate. In my view this is when the forum is at its best. It is also good to note that everybody has been aware not to question or criticise in away that causes other contributors offence ……,Thank you.

Phil it is good that you have something to say regarding this subject and I don’t see that as hijacking the board. I had quite a long say on the subject when I created the review so I haven’t got too involved thus far. Please keep the debate up. Others please go the When Steptoe Met Son page and let us have your comments.

Finally there is no need to write any declaimers to protect the site, although your concern for the site is very much appreciated . Ultimately I have a number of options open to me if somebody did post something contentious, including a big red delete button.

Thanks every one.
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Postby Archie » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:04 pm

I always find Phils contributions interesting and very well researched 8)
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Postby PhilGlass » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:28 am

Thanks Archie and Thanks Bob.

I just didn't want anyone involved with the show reading this and taking it out on Bob!!!! I am happy to face responsibility for what I say because it is all researched and cross referenced, and can be backed up with evidence, unlike some documentaries that have been made...

I agree that this forum is great when we really get stuck in like this and we all have a mutual respect for each other, even when we disagree, and that disagreement is a good thing as it provokes conversation and keeps life interesting!!

Of all forums I have ever used, this is by far the friendliest, politest and most interesting and that is simply down to the people who use it!! :)

Although it was a passing comment in my previous post, I am seriously considering putting an "answer" documentary together. This will of course be made available to ALL fans who want it if it ever happens.
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