Vale: Alan Simpson

UK television writer Alan Simpson, who co-created Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, has died aged 87.

He died this week having a long illness, according to manager Tessa Le Bars: “Having had the privilege of working with Alan and Ray for over 50 years, the last 40 as agent, business manager and friend, and latterly as Alan’s companion and carer, I am deeply saddened to lose Alan after a brave battle with lung disease.”

Together with his writing partner Ray Galton, Simpson created Hancock and Steptoe and – during their long careers – they penned scripts for the likes of Peter Sellers and Frankie Howerd. The duo wrote for the latter from the early 1960s into the mid-1970s, eventually providing the funnyman with his first major series, Frankie Howerd, airing from 1964 through to 1966.

A statement from Ray Galton – who had worked with Simpson for seven decades – and his family said: “From their first attempts at humour in Milford sanatorium, through a lifetime of work together, the strength of Alan and Ray’s personal and professional bond was always at the heart of their success.”

David Walliams tweeted: “Alan Simpson was half of one of the greatest comedy writing duos of all time with Ray Galton Hancock & Steptoe & Son are masterpieces.”

Galton and Simpson received the Bafta fellowship at the Bafta Television Awards last May.

Source: Radio Times


  1. I grew up in the era of BBC radio comedies, clean comedy with a smattering of double-entendre’s, which went over my young head. Radio requires imagination and the TV versions of Hancock were often disappointing to me, but enjoyed by another generation.
    It was amusing to watch Alan Alda in M*A*S*H playing the Hancock role in the story of the “missing page”. The book’s title was changed from “Lady, Don’t Fall Backward” to “The Rooster Crowed At Midnight” but the plotline was essentially the same.
    RIP Alan Simpson, your work will live on.

    • Some of the best comedy writing I’ve ever heard.
      James: “Look. On the wall, that plaque. Darcy Sarto novelist lived here. Born 1884 died 1949”.
      Hancock: “Dead? The Fool!”
      And I agree about the TV series, Hancock looked out of his depth. On radio, brilliant, they all were thanks in no measure to the Galton/Simpson scripts.

  2. The world of entertainment will ever be indebted to Alan Simpson, who with Ray Galton, created two comedic masterpieces. “Steptoe and Son” was a must-see for our generation growing up and “Hancock’s Half Hour”, particularly the pre-TV radio series were jus brilliant. I collected many of the episodes over the years and posted them on YouTube (Look for GRM channel).
    If younger folk would like to find out what made my generation LOL, check out the “Threatening Letter” at As of this morning it has had 5,404 views and many rave comments.
    Vale Alan Simpson we will never see your like again.

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