Born on 28 February 1925 in Rangoon, Burma, Harry H Corbett was the son of an army officer. Following the death of his mother when he was just three, Corbett moved to England, where he was raised by his Aunt in Manchester.
After serving in the Royal Marines during the war as a radiographer, Corbett moved on to become an understudy with the Chorlton Repertory Company. He served an apprenticeship with the company, gaining enough experience to secure him a place in Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop where, during the 1950s, he played numerous parts in plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen and Jonson.
In 1962, Corbett appeared in a BBC Comedy Playhouse piece about a couple of rag and bone men. This pilot eventually became the long running sit com Steptoe & Son. The series, which focused on the lives of a father and son team who rarely saw eye-to-eye, was penned by Galton & Simpson, the team behind the phenomenally successful Hancock series, and indeed enjoyed similar success. Steptoe & Son ran for 10 years, during which time it brought in a peak audience of 22 million, won acclaim from the Queen Mother and spawned 2 films.
Corbett was awarded the OBE in 1976 for his services to showbusiness. He died in 1982, after suffering a massive heart attack.