Curse of the 'Curse of Steptoe'

DVDs withdrawn after family complaint

The BBC has had to withdraw a DVD documentary about the stars of Steptoe And Son, following complaints from Harry H Corbett’s family.

The film had already been re-edited twice to try to counter relatives’ grievances, but the cut which made it on to the Legends Of Comedy compilation was still not to their liking.

Now, following a fresh complaint, the BBC Trust has confirmed that it has ordered the discs to be recalled from the shelves.

The brother of Corbett’s late second wife, Maureen Blott, first claimed the biopic was inaccurate and unfair when it originally aired on BBC Four in 2008.

The corporation’s editorial complaints unit ruled that the drama had been wrong to suggest that Maureen’s relationship with Corbett possibly contributed to the breakdown of his first marriage to actress Sheila Steafel.

And it ruled that programme-makers were wrong to suggest Steptoe And Son came to an end because Corbett became a father and lost interest in the sitcom.

It ordered edits to the show before it aired again a few months later. However, the new version still attracted family complaints that Harry and Maureen’s relationship was just a casual one.

Following this, another re-edited version of the programme was broadcast and then released on the DVD, but Mrs Corbett's brother again complained it was unfair to his sister because she and the Steptoe star ‘are portrayed as not living in a loving, permanent relationship’.

The BBC did print a statement on the DVD sleeve stating that ‘some events have been invented or combined together’, but the governing body has still ordered the withdrawal of the title.

Published: 23 Dec 2010

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