Simpson, who together with writing partner Ray Galton created Steptoe and Son and Hancock's Half Hour, two of the most popular British comedies of the 1950s and 60s, passed away on Wednesday (08Feb17) after a battle with lung disease.

"Having had the privilege of working with Alan and Ray for over 50 years, the last 40 as agent, business manager and friend, and latterly as Alan's companion and carer, I am deeply saddened to lose Alan after a brave battle with lung disease," his manager Tessa Le Bars told the BBC.

Galton and Simpson first met when recuperating from tuberculosis at a sanatorium in Surrey, England.

Together they created Hancock's Half Hour, a vehicle for comedian Tony Hancock which first aired in 1954 before transferring to television two years later.

The comedy, which depicted Hancock as an accident prone suburbanite aspiring to greatness, became one of Britain's best loved TV shows and is held up as influencing the development of the situation comedy.

The duo broke away from Hancock after writing his 1961 film The Rebel and in 1962 created what would be their biggest TV hit, Steptoe and Son.

The sitcom, which depicted the antagonistic relationship between a father-and-son team of rag-and-bone-men, was later remade in the U.S. as Sanford and Son.

Over their long careers the writing partners also penned film and stage scripts for revered British comedy stars including Peter Sellers, Arthur Lowe, Leonard Rossiter and Frankie Howerd.

A statement from Ray, 86, and his family, read, "From their first attempts at humour 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."

Galton and Simpson were honoured with a British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) fellowship last year (16) and were made Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBEs) in 2000.