Alan Simpson, writer of classic British sitcoms, dies at 87

FILE - A May 9, 2014 file photo of Alan Simpson, one half of the Galton and Simpson writing duo behind Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, in London. Simpson's agent, Tessa Le Bars, said Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, that he died "after a brave battle with lung disease." Simpson was 87. (Justin Tallis/PA via AP, File)

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

LONDON — Screenwriter Alan Simpson, who co-wrote the landmark British comedy series "Hancock's Half Hour" and "Steptoe and Son," has died at age 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.

Their 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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