Berkoff was born Leslie Steven Berks on 3 August 1937, in Stepney in the East End of London, the son of Pauline "Polly" (née Hyman), a housewife, and Alfred "Al" Berks, a tailor. He had an older sister, Beryl (1930-before 2010). He comes from a Jewish family; his grandparents emigrated to England in the 1890s, his paternal grandparents from Romania, and his maternal grandparents from Russia. The family name was originally Berkowitz, but Steven's father anglicised it to Berks in order to aid the family's assimilation into British society. Steven (who had been known as Leslie growing up) later legally changed his surname to Berkoff and went by his middle name.
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