After creating the supreme comedy that was Hancock's Half Hour, many wondered where else writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson could go when the eponymous Mr H dispensed with their services. Their answer was another sitcom tour-de-force, Steptoe & Son.
Steptoe was born from a one-off comic play, "The Offer" commissioned by the BBC in 1962 as part of Comedy Playhouse, a series of short plays all written by Galton and Simpson.
From the outset it broke the mould of British comedy. Where previous sitcoms relied on slapstick, gags and farce, Steptoe and Son introduced a note of gritty realism: its characters were resolutely working-class, down-at-heel rag-and-bone men scraping a living by spotting gems among other people's junk.
Father and son used earthy language and swore like troopers (at least as much as the BBC would allow them to) and both were given an added reality by being played by "straight" actors (Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett) rather than comedians.
Where other comedies revolved around interfering mothers-in-law and the sudden failure of the hero's braces the moment his boss came round, Steptoe's focus was on the inter-generational conflict that marked out the 60s.
While father Albert Steptoe was - as his son often reminded him - a "dirty old man", set in his grimy and grasping ways, middle-aged son Harold was filled with social aspirations, not to say pretensions.
Many episodes saw Harold attempting to attract a posh "bird" (this was still the sixties and early seventies) with his literary erudition, love of classical music or amateur dramatic skills, only to have a single leer from his gargoyle-like dad put the kybosh on the whole affair.
Despite the advantage of Harold's relative youth, the audience always knew who was master in the Steptoe household. Albert, convinced his work in years (long) gone by entitled him to live off his son's hard graft, used every weapon from blood-curdling threats to pathetic wheedling to kee