The stage production of the popular TV comedy series, Steptoe and Son, which received its premiere at Theatre Royal, York, last autumn (see News 19 Jul 2005), will run at the West End’s Comedy Theatre from 22 February to 22 April 2006 (previews from 16 February).

Steptoe and Son in Murder at Oil Drum Lane will replace School of Night at the venue, which was due to star Christopher Eccleston as poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe, but cancelled abruptly last weekend (see News 9 Jan 2006).

The sitcom was originally delivered to the BBC as a one-off for part of a season of ten unrelated sketches, but ended up being made into a complete series starring Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell. The show ran for 12 years from 1961 to 1974 and remains a landmark comedy for the way it dealt with an underclass previously seen in television only in realistic dramas. The American TV version, Sanford and Son, was also a success, running from 1972 to 1977. Corbett and Brambell last reprised their roles as Harold and Albert in a cabaret show that toured Australia in 1977.

Steptoe and Son in Murder at Oil Drum Lane, by the series’ original creator, Ray Galton, and fellow comedy writer John Antrobus, sees the wily Albert Steptoe and his long-suffering son, Harold, in a tale of intrigue and suspense, as a lone figure arrives at their dilapidated house in Oil Drum Lane – now in the hands of the National Trust - with a murderous secret. The original cast including Jake Nightingale (Harold) and Harry Dickman (Albert) will reprise their roles at The Comedy Theatre.

Between them, writers Galton and Antrobus have created material for some of the UK’s best-loved performers, including Spike Milligan, Tony Hancock, Peter Sellers, Les Dawson and Sid James. The new stage play is directed by Roger Smith, whose West End credits include Duet for One, Steaming, The Understanding, Trumpets and Raspberries and Galton and Antrobus’ When Did You Last See Your Trousers.

Currently at the Comedy, Peter Gill’s revival of John Osborne and Anthony Creighton’s 1957 play Epitaph for George Dillon - starring Joseph Fiennes, Francesca Annis and Award nominee Anne Reid – is finishes its four-month run this weekend (14 January). It’s followed by Polish acrobatic show Caesar Twins and Friends, which runs for three weeks from 23 January to 11 February 2006 (See News, 21 Dec 2005).

- by Caroline Ansdell