Entertainment & Arts

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson to get Bafta fellowship

(l-r) Alan Simpson and Ray Galton
Image caption Alan Simpson and Ray Galton's career has spanned 60 years

Comedy writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson are to be honoured with a Bafta fellowship at this year's ceremony.

The duo, who created Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, are credited as "the trailblazers of the situation comedy format".

They were awarded OBEs in 2000 and will receive their Fellowship at the annual Bafta television awards on 8 May.

Alan Simpson said they were "extremely delighted" to receive the Fellowship in honour of their 60 year career.

"We always wanted a Fellowship, even though we did not know what a fellowship was. Not the sort of thing one associates with a couple of Cockney lads, apart from Alfred Hitchcock of course," he said.

Ray Galton added that they were "happy and honoured" to accept the award "on behalf of all the Blood Donors, Test Pilots, Radio Hams and Rag and Bone Men of the 20th Century without whom we would probably be out of a job. Thank you all".

Image caption Hancock's Half Hour, starring comedian Tony Hancock, started as a radio show in 1954

Anne Morrison, Chair of Bafta, said it "comes as no surprise" that the duo were being honoured as they had "created some of the most iconic characters and programmes over the past few decades".

"Alan and Ray have had such successful careers, spanning over 60 years, with credits such as Steptoe and Son and Hancock's Half-Hour, two hugely popular sitcoms. They are rightly considered the trailblazers of the situation comedy format," she said.

The duo met while being treated in a tuberculosis sanatorium in 1949, and started writing for the hospital's radio station.

They went on to create the template for situation comedy with their popular series Hancock's Half-Hour, which started as a radio show in 1954.

It later transferred to TV and was aired on the BBC from 1956 to 1960.

Steptoe and Son, about a father and son rag and bone team, was their biggest TV hit.

It ran for 12 years from 1963-1974 and reached an audience of 28 million viewers.

Image caption Harry H Corbett played Harold and Wilfrid Brambell played Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son

Harold Steptoe and his father Albert lived in a squalid home, and the comedy and drama centred on Harold's constantly scuppered attempts to improve his lot.

Galton and Simpson are credited with bringing social realism to British comedy which helped lay the foundations for modern day classics like The Office.

They have won a number of awards, and in 2013 had a blue plaque unveiled in their honour at Milford Sanatorium in Guildford where they first met.

The Fellowship is Bafta's highest honour. Previous recipients include Michael Palin, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Melvyn Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Julie Walters and last year's fellow, Jon Snow.

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