Curse Of Comedy

UKTV – New Year’s Day, Thursday 1 January, 8.30pm

Steptoe and Son remains a landmark in the history of British television. The series gave birth to the modern sitcom and transformed its actors – Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell – into national treasures.

Starring Jason Isaacs (The State Within) as Harry H Corbett and Phil Davis (Five Days) as Wilfrid Brambell, The Curse of Steptoe uncovers an unexpected and incredible tale of life imitating art. The sitcom told the story of two rag-and-bone men trapped together for all eternity. But out of the public eye an even stranger story was playing out, of two men yoked together unable to escape their inner complexities or each other. How their personal problems helped the show achieve success is one of the most revealing stories from the annals of BBC light entertainment history.

Based on interviews with colleagues, friends and family of Harry and Wilfrid, and Steptoe writers, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, The Curse Of Steptoe explores the incredible story of life behind the scenes.

UKTV – New Year’s Eve, Wednesday 31 December, 8.30pm

David Walliams stars as one of his own comedy favourites in this moving, humorous and poignant story of Howerd’s fight with his inner demons.

The actor and comedian says: “I have been a life-long fan of Frankie and his work: I even managed to get an autograph after one of his shows!”

“Playing Howerd is, in many ways, a dream role for me. In fact, Matt Lucas and I first bonded as struggling comedians over a shared love of Frankie Howerd impressions.”

Frankie Howerd is to this day an enduring and celebrated icon of British comedy, and his “thrice nays” and “titter ye not” have been immortalised in the canon of comedy catch-phrases. Behind the scenes, however, Howerd was a man riddled with professional doubts, conflicted by his homosexuality and wracked with depression. He kept his sexuality and relationship with partner Dennis Heymer secret until his death in 1992.

Stars: David Walliams, Dilys Laye and Rafe Spall