Running from 12 November 1973 to 29 August 2010
|Kathy Staff||Nora Batty|
THE 1970s WAS A FANTASTIC year for British comedy, arguably the best ever. It says a lot that this sitcom, which is the longest-running sitcom in the world, can only enter in fourth place.
Last of the Summer Wine has been at the top of the sitcom tree for over 30 years. Written by one of the best comedy writers of all time, Roy Clarke who has wrote many popular sitcoms including Open All Hours and Keeping up Appearances.
I first started to watch Last of the Summer Wine when I saw Stephen Lewis star in show, who previously played Blakey in ‘On The Buses’. Since then my interest has grown and I’ve watched the Yorkshire-countryside sitcom ever-since.
Lewis, who played old and venerable ‘Smiler’, was one of the most unfortunate men in the series. He was a tenant of Nora Batty and was also employed by Auntie Wainwright working in her antiques shop.
The show ran for 31 series which created so many classic and memorable moments. To name a few; Compo presents himself to Nora Batty and he gets a bucket of water tipped all over him for his troubles. There is the famous bath tub scene where Compo ends up rolling down a hill in the bath, smashing into a wall and the guttering collapses soaks him.
But my all-time favourite moment has to be the in the episode ‘loxley lozenge’. Foggy, Clegg and Compo find an old racing car and to ensure they get a comfy ride they put a sofa in place of the original seat on top.
They are then towed by Wesley on the back of his trailer but as they turn a corner, Clegg turns the wheel but the sofa flies off the other way, leaving the three of them stranded rolling down a country lane, stopping behind world-famous painter Ashley Jackson, who actually lives in the village of Holmfirth; where the sitcom is filmed.
The show was based around three elderly friends from Yorkshire who wonder around the countryside, trying to reenact their youth by always attempting tasks that are not common for the elderly.
The three friends couldn’t be any different. Ranging from the upper, middle and lower classes, the famous trio combined of a Former Royal Signals Sergeant and notional gang leader ‘Cyril’. A voice of purpose and reason ‘Cleggy, who always wore a flat cap and finally the scruffy slacker who without fail always wore welly boots ‘Compo’.
Due to Ill-heath forced ‘Cyril’ quit after the second series and was replaced by Brian Wilde as the snobbish ex-army corporal Walter ‘Foggy’ Dewhurst, who led the show into its finest years, as the trio got into more laughable scrapes, usually resulting in near loss of life for Compo.
In a little country village where the men are over-grown kids, they are kicked back into shape by the tough and daunting women. The large tea shop over Ivy was very intimidating but she was mellow in comparison to Nora Batty, who always has her hair curlers and stockings on show was bad news for the trio and became a lust object for Compo.
Over the years, the show had to overcome to the passing of many of its cast, but never was the challenge as tough when Bill Owen (Compo) passed away in 1999. His character was given an onscreen send off and Owen’s real life son Tom was cast to play his long-lost son.With Wilde long being replaced by Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served), played a retired police officer Herbert ‘Truly’.
With the show struggling to live up to previous heights set, Writer Clarke widened the cast, making bigger roles for Auntie Wainwright; Howard Sibshaw and introducing new characters such as Billy Hardcastle; a passionate outdoorsman who claims he is a descendant of Robin Hood.
Written by Roy Clarke
Broadcast on BBC 1