Ray Galton & Alan Simpson

Galton & Simpson: The Collection
  • Galton & Simpson: The Collection

    • Ray Galton & Alan Simpson

    • David Mitchell (Read by)

    • Frank Skinner (Read by)

    • Robert Webb (Read by)

    • Rik Mayall (Read by)

    • June Whitfield (Read by)

    • Tony Hancock (Read by)

    • Sid James (Read by)

    • Full Cast (Read by)

    • Stephen Merchant (Read by)

    • Paul Merton (Read by)

    A compendium of radio sitcoms and retrospectives celebrating the legendary duo

    Ray Galton and Alan Simpson were Britain's best-loved and most successful comedy writing partners. Together, they created two of the greatest sitcoms of all time, Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son. This compilation brings together some of the finest programmes from their 60-year career, as well as interviews with them both.

    Galton & Simpson's Half Hour comprises four comedy dramas: You'll Never Walk Alone (starring Frank Skinner), Impasse (starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb), I Tell You It's Burt Reynolds (starring Rik Mayall and June Whitfield) and The Blood Donor (a remake of the famous Hancock's Half Hour episode starring Paul Merton). Originally written for BBC TV, all are specially adapted for radio by Galton and Simpson and introduced by Paul Merton.

    The Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse features three more adaptations: Naught for Thy Comfort (starring Robert Daws and Nina Wadia), A Clerical Error (starring Keith Barron and June Whitfield) and The Offer, a reworking of the TV script that inspired Steptoe and Son, starring Freddie Jones and John Thomson.

    A fourth drama from Radio Playhouse - Clicquot et Fils, starring Richard Griffiths and Roger Lloyd Pack - can be heard in I Did It My Way: Galton and Simpson, in which the pair chat to Peter Reed and select some of their favourite work. Also included is Hancock's Half Hour: The Threatening Letters; 'Up Je T'Aime', Frankie Howerd and June Whitfield's parody of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's hit song; the 1963 Royal Variety performance Steptoe and Son at Buckingham Palace; Steptoe and Son: Porn Yesterday and the classic Hancock's Half Hour TV episode, The Radio Ham, recreated before a live audience for an album release in 1961.

    Topping off our collection is Very Nearly an Armful: The Galton and Simpson Story. Talking to Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Stephen Merchant explores how their ground-breaking work brought social realism to British comedy, and helped lay the foundations for modern-day classics like The Office. Contributors include David Mitchell, Ben Elton, Denis Norden and Damaris Hayman, and among the archive interviewees are Tony Hancock, Sid James and Harry H Corbett.

    Written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
    Thanks to Tessa Le Bars
    Collection compiled by Martin Gibbons
    With thanks to the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society

    Galton & Simpson's Half Hour: You'll Never Walk Alone
    Galton & Simpson's Half Hour: Impasse
    Galton & Simpson's Half Hour: I Tell You It's Burt Reynolds
    Galton & Simpson's Half Hour: The Blood Donor
    The Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse: Naught for Thy Comfort
    The Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse: A Clerical Error
    The Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse: The Offer
    I Did It My Way: Galton & Simpson
    Very Nearly An Armful: The Galton and Simpson Story

    © 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
    (p) 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson met in a sanatorium in Surrey, where they were both being treated for TB. Ray Galton remembers noticing the six-foot-four Simpson and thinking he looked surprisingly large - ‘you expect everyone in a sanatorium to be thin and weedy, and he was the biggest guy I’d ever seen’. During two years in the same ward, they listened to comedy shows together and also wrote a series of their own, creating a radio room in a linen cupboard. Having left the sanatorium within a few months of each other, they decided to get a professional opinion of their work and sent a sketch they had written called The Pirate Sketch to the BBC. They were asked to go in for an interview, and soon found themselves writing for the sketch show Happy Go Lucky. Over the next two years they continued to write sketches for a number of big names, before coming up with the idea for Hancock’s Half Hour. Although the BBC took some persuading, eventually the show was scheduled, initially for radio but later as a television series. A phenomenally successful ten years later, Galton and Simpson were themselves very well known names. After Hancock’s Half Hour they wrote Comedy Playhouse for the BBC, out of which came their second huge television and radio hit, Steptoe & Son. In 1977 they wrote The Galton & Simpson Playhouse, produced by Yorkshire Television for ITV.

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