British Screenwriter Alan Simpson Dies at 87

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Alan Simpson

The co-writer of 'Steptoe and Son,' which inspired 'Sanford and Son,' was battling lung disease, his agent said.

Screenwriter Alan Simpson, who co-wrote the landmark British comedy series Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, has died. He was 87.

Simpson's agent, Tessa Le Bars, said Wednesday that he died "after a brave battle with lung disease."

The London-born Simpson was diagnosed with life-threatening tuberculosis as a teenager. In a sanatorium, he met another sick teen, Ray Galton, who went on to become his long-term writing partner.

Galton and Simpson wrote Hancock's Half Hour for popular post-war comedian Tony Hancock. The show started out as a radio program before moving to BBC television in 1956.

The duo's biggest hit was Steptoe and Son, a sitcom about father-and-son junk dealers, which debuted in 1962 and ran until 1974. Producer Norman Lear adapted it into the U.S. sitcom Sanford and Son.

Galton and his family said in a statement that "from their first attempts at humor 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."

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