The pair first met in Guildford as teenagers when they both had stints in Milford Sanatorium after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. They went on to create Hancock and Steptoe and – during their long careers – 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 on the BBC from 1964 through to 1966.
The Thick of It and Peep Show writer Simon Blackwell was among those who paid tribute to Galton and Simpson’s legacy on Twitter as the news broke.
Very sad indeed to hear that Ray Galton has died. He and Alan reached such heights in terms of structure and character. Steptoe is as profound as Ibsen, and he never had an old bloke in a sink scrubbing his nuts with Ajax.
“Galton and Simpson were the masters,” Bottom star Adrian Edmondson added, thanking the writing duo for never suing himself and his late comedy partner Rik Mayall.
Galton and Simpson were the masters. And also very kind – they never sued Rik and I for basically doing a pale copy of Steptoe & Son and Hancock’s Half Hour, and just adding a bit of mindless violence.
David Walliams took a moment to pay tribute to the duo’s “incredible body of work”.
What an incredible body of work Ray Galton has left us with. Some of the greatest TV comedy ever written, ‘Hancock’ & ‘Steptoe & Son’ are still the gold standard of sitcoms. Matt & I got to spend time with him & Alan Simpson. I was in complete & utter awe. https://t.co/g4JmvXPwUy
Galton and Simpson received the Bafta fellowship at the Bafta Television Awards in 2016. At the time, Simpson said: “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.”