Thursday, 10 January 2013

Thursday 10 January 1963

As you can see, this week's Steptoe starts with some rather gruesome nudity (I speak for myself about its gruesomeness of course: your bedroom walls might be covered in naked pin-ups of Wilfrid Brambell for all I know).  Harold is, as usual, disgusted with his father wallowing in his working class ways - and especially in his wallowing noisily in the bath in the middle of the living room when Harold's date is due to arrive.  And indeed Albert's habit of eating his dinner in the bath is pretty stomach-churning stuff - particularly his tendency to drop pickled onions in the water and then put them back in the jar.  Excellent Galton & Simpson bickering ensues, Harold's determination to get Albert out of the way eventually erupting into violence that would be really alarming if it wasn't for the audience laughter (well, in some ways that makes it even more alarming I suppose).  This is what in the 21st century would be called elder abuse.

"You want your back scrubbed, do you? YOU WANT YOUR BACK SCRUBBED?"
Eventually Harold bodily removes his father from the tub, earning a rather half-hearted death threat as the old man retreats to his bedroom: "You'll get half a yard of gas pipe right round your throat! Right round your throat!...and don't forget my cocoa".

When Harold's new lady friend, Delia, eventually arrives, she turns out to be played by none other than Yootha Joyce, resplendent in leather jacket and enormous bouffant.  Demanding Harold mix her a Manhattan, she gets a nasty surprise when it turns out Albert's been keeping horse liniment in the whisky bottle.

After Delia falls headlong into the hastily concealed bathtub, Harold decides the Steptoes need a proper bathroom - and as Albert's bedroom is the prime location, the old man will just have to move into the cupboard under the stairs (well, he's only little).  This isn't just a matter of convenience: mind-boggling as the concept of indoor plumbing as a status symbol might now seem, for Harold it's his gateway to membership of the Affluent Society.  Not to mention a sure-fire way of getting birds to come back to the house.  But perhaps he's being a tad over-ambitious with the pink bathroom suite he's chosen from Home & Beauty magazine, complete - much to Albert's consternation - with "bidette" (as Harold explains, it's for washing your feet in before you take a bath). 

Believe it or not, things don't go quite as planned.  You can find out what happens here:

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