Steptoe turns killer, Fletch finds a manor - the hidden sitcom endings -

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They are the hidden sitcom episodes that would have caused uproar if they had ever appeared on a Christmas Day television schedule.

The unfilmed story-lines of some of Britain's favourite shows have showed Harold Steptoe as a murderer, the vicar of Dibley as a would-be lesbian and Norman Stanley Fletcher as a law-abiding housekeeper of a stately home.

These revelations have been brought to light by the Radio Times, which was given the sitcom endings that never made it onto television by some of the country's best-known comedy writers.

Harold Steptoe (played by Harry H Corbett) had often expressed patricidal intentions towards his grizzled father Albert (Wilfrid Brambell).

But few viewers could have imagined that he would actually kill the "dirty old man", especially with the show running for 12 years.

"It turns out that the son murdered the old man, which is just what he'd been threatening to do every week for all those years," said Ray Galton, one of the writers of Steptoe and Son.

"It wasn't a pre-meditated crime, it was very much a spur of the moment thing. But he certainly intended to do it because the old man had made his life so intolerable and this was the only way out," he added.

Galton wrote the story-line into a play, Steptoe and Son: The Wasted Years, describing how Harold fled to Rio de Janeiro after the murder. The rag and bone man eventually returned to his yard in Shepherd's Bush, west London, only to find it had been taken over by the National Trust.

Eric Chappell, the writer of Rising Damp, also wrote a play to describe what happened to the characters in Mr Rigsby's famous boarding house.

The play did not offer a particularly happy ending. Philip, Rigsby's well-spoken lodger (played by Don Warrington), was revealed to have not been the African prince he had always claimed to be.

He was portrayed spending his later years still living in a dingy bedsit owned by bigoted landlord Rigsby (Leonard Rossiter).

His fellow lodger Alan (Richard Beckinsale) has a brief fling with Miss Jones (the lovelorn spinster played by Frances de la Tour and much admired by the lecherous Rigsby). Mr Chappell said that the affair ended when Alan dumped his older lover.

Mr Chappell said: "Poor Ruth [Jones] felt disappointed by everyone and left the boarding house for good. She'd have spent many an evening since then looking for men in singles' clubs."

The writer denied the idea that the Rigsby character belonged to a bygone era. "His type still exists - I get students coming up to me all the time saying, 'That house in Rising Damp is just like the one we rent and our landlord is just like Rigsby'," he said.

Britain's best-loved television jailbird ended up living in a country mansion.

Norman Stanley Fletcher, the star of Porridge, was last seen in the spin-off series Going Straight, in which he left prison and got a job as a hotel night porter.

Porridge was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and ran from 1974 to 1977. It starred Ronnie Barker as Fletcher, and co-starred Rising Damp actor Richard Beckinsale as Fletcher's cellmate Godber.

Clement and Le Frenais revealed that they had intended for Fletcher to become "a housekeeper on a country estate belonging to an ageing rock star like Bill Wyman".

They said: "It was an arrangement that suited Fletcher perfectly, because his boss was often away and he could spend most of his evenings down at the village pub.

"It wouldn't have lasted for long, something would have gone wrong and he'd have got the sack. But Fletcher never went back to prison. He'd mended his ways and decided to keep out of trouble."

Richard Curtis, the creator of the more recent series The Vicar of Dibley revealed that he had a plan for Dawn French's character, Reverend Geraldine Granger, to consider "becoming a lesbian" in order to lend her support to gays in the clergy.

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