Patricia Routledge in Steptoe and Son
In 1974, Patricia Routledge played Madame Fontana in one episode of this long-running hit BBC TV series. It’s said that in 1966, the audience was so big that PM Harold Wilson asked the BBC to delay transmission of a repeat episode until after the polls closed on election day for fear his supporters wouldn’t show up and, instead, opt to watch the telly instead.
Much of it’s success centered around the concept that it really broke the mould of what traditional British comedy was at the time, which was 30 minutes of slapstick, sight-gags and farce. Steptoe and Son relied heavily on everyday issues, realism and working class characters.
Steptoe and Son also has the distinction of being one of only a handful of British comedy series that made a successful leap to the States with the popular Sanford and Son series starring Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson. I won’t even bring up the 5 different remakes of Fawlty Towers or the miserable U.S. versions of Coupling or AbFab.