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Sunday For Seven Days

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  First Broadcast : 4 February 1964  

It's time for a night out at the cinema for Albert and Harold but the Steptoes are beset with problems before they even set foot onto Oil Drum Lane: Albert's lost his shirt, Harold can't find his socks and neither of them can agree on what to go and see.

Harold suggests that they go to a film somewhere close to home in Shepherd's Bush before Albert tells him that he's seen all the movies showing locally, skiving out in the weekday afternoons while Harold's on his rounds. Additionally, they can't go back to the Rembrant cinema because Albert got booted out of there on Monday afternoon during the old people's matinee for harassing an old lady who had, according to Albert, 'skinny old legs'. He'd have preferred a go at the monster, naturally.

Harold suggests they go a bit further afield and catch a flick in Hammersmith instead. Looking through the local paper, he discovers that there are two films screening down the road from the Bush: Fellini's 8 and a Half and a picture called Nudes of 1964. Albert's not seen the latter and he's keen but Harold sees the cinema as an art form, not a tawdry peepshow. After convincing Albert that, based on what happened at the Rembrant, he wouldn't be able to control himself in such a racy feature, Harold persuades his dad to see the Fellini instead.

Harry H. Corbett as Harold Steptoe in Steptoe and Son
After a half-hour wait for a bus to Hammersmith the elder Steptoe is cold, miserable and grumbling: "Them buses is gettin' worse. Half an hour! Gah, I can't wait to get into the warm. I can't feel me feet...". However, his mood takes a turn for the better as the pair wonder past the cinema showing Nudes of 1964. After a good letch at the film's poster displayed outside ("'Arold, come an' 'ave a look at these birds! She's a big girl, isn't she?!"), Albert tries to change Harold's mind. Undeterred, Harold drags his dad away and into the theatre screening 8 and a Half, despite Albert protesting that he'd like to see the startlet from Nudes of 1964's 48 and a halfs.

With his plans for a good evening foiled, the Steptoe patriarch sets about making Harold's night out a misery: he flirts with the girl at the ticket booth, and once inside the cinema he doesn't stop talking for a moment. When Harold tries to reprimand Albert he's hushed by the other members of the audience.

  Wilfrid Brambell as Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son Eventually an usherette guides the Steptoes to two seats, uprooting a row of grumpy moviegoers in the process and causing mass panic when Albert misses his seat and ends up on the floor emitting a banshee-like wail. However, as soon as they're sat down Albert complains that he can't see over a tall gentleman's head. The two switch seats, causing yet more disturbence in the cinema. Albert complains that he still can't see, so the pair uproot yet again and move to the front row of the theatre.

After causing another row of cinemagoers a bit of grief, the two Steptoes eventually get seated. More bad news: Albert's glasses need a wipe and the old man wheezes and hacks as loudly as possible into a handkerchief before giving them a rub to a chorus of shhhs. His glasses on, Albert's contentment is momentary as he asks Harold for a drink. Harold's naturally exasperrated by all this irritation and begins to argue with his dad, prompting more reprimands from the rest of the audience. Eventually he acquiesces to the old man's request and Albert shuffles past the people he'd uprooted only seconds earlier on his way to the lobby.

With his dad out of the way, Harold spies a pretty brunette sitting near him and reaches over to touch her knee with his. The girl's boyfriend isn't impressed and shoots Harold a murderous look. By this time Albert's back, laden down with snacks. After shuffling past those same poor people for a third time, he plonks down next to a dejected Harold and doles out an ice cream and drink each. Oh, and 'shovels' too.

But there's another problem. Albert's been short-changed at the food stand and is very vocal in his outrage at being diddled out of a tanner. Another headache: Albert can't get the straw through the lid of his drink, and he's not shy about letting Harold know his discomfort. By this point the veins in the other moviegoers' necks are bursting, and Harold sacrifices his own drink just to pacify his pater. Albert sucks on his drink sounding like a vacuum cleaner with emphysema and Harold begins to wish that the ground would open and swallow him up. By now Albert just doesn't care and begins openly and loudly talking to Harold about a bloke coming to fix the mangle in the Steptoes' yard and a chap asking him for the price of a pair of ornamental dogs.

Finally one of the men sitting behind the noisy twosome can take no more and threatens to stuff Albert's ice-cream down the back of his 'dirty little throat'. Harold's not standing for such rudeness and an argument ensues, eventually developing into a cinema-wide brawl. The manager appears on the scene and, upon hearing about the Steptoes' uncooth behaviour and Harold's bit of minor sexual harrassment, slings them both out.

  Albert Steptoe : i'd rahter see her forty eight and a half's Outside, Albert blames Harold soley for getting them evicted from the theatre, which is the last straw for the apopleptic junior Stpetoe. He's not daft: he knows that Albert deliberately sabotaged the evening and tells his dad to clear off out of his sight. It just so happens that their argument has taken them down the road, back to the cinema showing Nudes of 1964. Harold tells Albert that he's subhuman and belongs 'in there' pointing to the cinema: "go on, go in there and drool with the rest of them. That's where you want to be and that's where you belong!" Naturally Albert retorts with "come in with me, son."

Harold's having none of it and Albert scarpers inside, buying a 4'6d ticket to sit in the balcony.
With his evening ruined and no chance of getting in to see the rest of 8 and a Half, Harold weighs up his options before timidly going up to the cash-desk for Nudes...

"What seat did that old man just take?"

"One of the 4 and 6ers, upstairs."

"OK love, give me a 1 and 9 downstairs".

  And with that both Steptoes take up their rightful place in the skin-flick, gawping open-mouthed as the credits roll.

Sunday For Seven Days is easily my favourite episode of Steptoe and Son. There's a not a word wasted in the script and the performances from Wilfrid Brambell and Harry Corbett are phenomenal. Every aspect of the Steptoes' chracters and relationship with each other is touched on in the script and the sheer amount of social taboos smashed by Albert beggars belief. Anarchic, character-driven and utterly hilarious, Sunday For Seven Days is literally Steptoe and Son at its very best.

Review Posted by : tOM cOLE

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Sunday For Seven Days

Fellini's 8 and a Half ?

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