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Bafta Fellowship for creators of comedy classics Hancock and Steptoe

Published 05/05/2016

Ray Galton (left) and Alan Simpson will be presented with a Bafta Fellowship award
Ray Galton (left) and Alan Simpson will be presented with a Bafta Fellowship award

The comedy writing duo behind Steptoe And Son and Hancock's Half Hour will be honoured with a Bafta Fellowship at the awards on Sunday.

Ray Galton OBE and Alan Simpson OBE will follow in the footsteps of Michael Palin, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, David Attenborough and Julie Walters.

They are to receive the highest accolade offered by Bafta in recognition of their "outstanding and exceptional" contribution to television in a career spanning 60 years.

Galton said: "We are happy and honoured to accept this award on behalf of all the Blood Donors, Test Pilots, Radio Hams and Rag and Bone Men of the 20th Century without whom we would probably be out of a job. Thank you all."

Simpson added: "We always wanted a Fellowship, even though we did not know what a Fellowship was. Not the sort of thing one associates with a couple of Cockney lads, apart from Alfred Hitchcock, of course."

Bafta chairwoman Anne Morrison praised the pair as "trailblazers of the situation comedy format".

They met in 1948 while both recuperating from tuberculosis and got their break in comedy writing with the popular series Hancock's Half-Hour, which aired on the BBC from 1954 to 1960.

The year after, they created the BBC's Comedy Playhouse, out of which emerged Steptoe And Son, about father and son rag-and-bone men living together in a grimy house in Shepherd's Bush.

The enormously popular sitcom, starring Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett as "dirty old man" Albert and his socially aspirational son Harold respectively, ran for 12 years on BBC from 1962-1974.

It earned Galton and Simpson the Writer's Guild Award in 1962 and 1963.

The duo went on to work on several projects with comedian Frankie Howerd. In 1997, a six-part BBC series called Get Well Soon, written by Ray Galton and John Antrobus, was based Galton and Simpson's experiences in Milford sanatorium.

Proving the continued popularity of their characters, the pair successfully revived Steptoe And Son for a play in 2005 called Murder At Oil Drum Lane.

Both were both awarded OBEs in the 2000 Honours list for their contribution to British television.

The House of Fraser British Academy Television Awards will be broadcast on BBC One on May 8 from 8pm.

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