Summer Winos»Archive for November 2014

Archive for November 2014

Series 4 Episode 3: Jubilee

In which Compo yearns for Leningrad, and Foggy tussles with bunting…

Bob: A refreshingly untypical episode for two reasons… firstly, it’s date specific! It’s set during Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, which took place in the first week of June 1977. Despite the 1970s trappings of all the episodes we’ve seen so far, Summer Wine somehow still seems to exist in an almost timeless bubble, so it feels rather incongruous to be able to pin this episode down to an actual date. And, although it wasn’t broadcast until November 1977, the events of the Jubilee would still have been fresh in viewers’ minds. I never think of Summer Wine as being remotely topical, and I can’t think of any other episode that ties in so closely with specific historical events.

Andrew: I can only think of one. Last Pigeon and Post was broadcast at the turn of the millennium and similarly features a bunch of the characters involved in a church-run pageant/home movie. You’re right though, it is strange.

Bob: Secondly, there are LOT of politics in this episode! OK, so Blamire always had an implied air of conservatism (small ‘c’), and you’d surely have Compo down as an old-school Labour man, but – prior to this episode – this stuff has always just been inferred character background, and has never dominated the dialogue. Here, in the opening scenes, we get a full-on political argument between Foggy and Compo, after the latter reveals that he yearns to visit Leningrad!

John Horsley alert!

John Horsley alert!

‘You mean these last few weeks I’ve been passing my humbugs onto a communist?’ splutters an aghast Foggy – bearing in mind that, in 1977, Russia was still very much depicted as the Evil Empire in British popular culture. There are mentions of Arthur Scargill too, and – when Foggy accuses Compo of having ‘true blue English legs’, he receives the indignant retort ‘There is nothing about my anatomy that belongs to Maggie Thatcher’!

Thatcher was still leader of the opposition to James Callaghan’s Labour government in 1977, but had already gained her ‘Iron Lady’ nickname, bestowed upon her by the Soviet Defence Ministry after she delivered a scathing anti-Russian speech in the unlikely setting of Kensington Town Hall in January 1976. It’s intriguing to see Roy Clarke using the background of the Silver Jubilee to draw up distinct political battle lines between Foggy and Compo, and the episode as a whole feels like an acknowledgement of the idealogical schism in Britain at the time… we were a country decking out our streets in bunting, fairground rides and jam tart-laden trestle tables while simultaneously sending The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen to the top of the singles charts.

Andrew: It’s an odd coincidence that we’ve revisited this episode so close to a couple of contemporary royal events, Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton and the Queen’s upcoming Diamond Jubilee. I was quite comforted by the fact that little has changed in terms of our conflicting attitudes to royalty. It’s clear that Compo and Clegg aren’t really fussed about the Jubilee, certainly not in comparison to Foggy’s loyalty to the crown. Thousands of people lined the route for the most recent royal procession, but to me they didn’t seem as visually impressive as the student demos we saw a few months beforehand. The more things change…

Bob: And so our heroes – including a sulky, reluctant, nose-thumbing Compo who has clearly firmly sided with Johnny Rotten and the boys, are roped into the Jubilee celebrations by the local vicar… John ‘Doc Morrissey’ Horsley, taking a day off from vital Reggie Perrin duties to make a charming little cameo. And, again, I’m transported back to my 1970s childhood… my earliest summers were filled with church fetes and school jumble sales, and barely a weekend seemed to pass without a procession of ‘floats’ sliding past the windows of my Gran’s bungalow – motorized displays of national pride with local personages and their snotty-faced kids dressed up as traditional characters from the British history books, waving plastic flags on sticks as they whizzed through the estates. And, true to form, we get Sid as Jolly Jack Tar and Compo as Admiral Nelson. Does anyone bother with ‘floats’ any more? I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

Float like a butterfly...

Float like a butterfly…

Andrew: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a float outside of Disneyland, and fetes are definitely a dying art. I popped down to the Mayday funfair at our local community farm, which used to be a big event when I was younger, with bouncy castles, falconry displays, arts and crafts, a car boot sale, army vehicles, and kids dressing up in firemens’ outfits. This year, the field in which the fair took place was half empty. The bouncy castles were still there, but the ‘Hook-a-Duck’ had been usurped by a ‘Catch-a-Pokemon’ stand and the arts and crafts seemed to be represented by one stall with a computer-printed banner offering ‘Dog Confectionary.’ I suppose it’s a shame, but I also suppose it’s also just one of those things.

Bob: In the midst of the searing political debate, there’s a really nice moment of tenderness between Sid and Ivy, as the latter reminisces about their youthful dancing exploits. ‘You used to do the most lovely Fallita…’ she muses, and you can absolutely see the love in her eyes. As we discussed during the Boarding House episodes of the previous series, Ivy – despite everything – still adores Sid, and won’t stop believing that – someday – he’ll be the gallant, square-jawed lothario that she breathlessly reads about in her womens’ magazines. And Sid has, clearly, sometimes come close enough to that ideal for Ivy to keep the faith. Just as with Nora and Compo’s tender moments in the previous episode, there’s enough here in this relationship to make you appreciate why they’re still together.

Andrew: At the moment, I’d have to say they’re my favorite characters. Over the past couple of series they appear to have really surprised Roy Clarke. They’re not at the forefront of the episodes, but he clearly enjoys writing for the duo, and keeps finding these little moments for them. I can’t help but think of the spin-off that never was, with Sid and Ivy travelling the Dales in their mobile chip van!

Bob: Two classic Roy Clarke one-liners in this episode as well…

Ivy: When are you going to look at me sink?
Sid: Any time you can arrange to sink, I’ll gladly have a look.

Compo: I wonder what they’ll put on my gravestone?
Foggy: Something very heavy, I hope.

Both of these made me laugh out loud, in bed, by myself. Thanks, Roy. 

Series 4 Episode 5: Who Made a Bit Of a Splash In Wales, Then?

In which Foggy finds romance!

Bob: Well, Roy Clarke has certainly decided to tinker with the format here… we’re suddenly pitched into an opening sequence in which Foggy appears to be on the verge of abruptly leaving the series! Amazingly, he’s found romance with an attractively mature lady in Wales. I’ll admit I was expecting some kind of pay-off in which it transpires that the relationship isn’t all that it seems (‘It gives them both the illusion of romance’ muses Clegg)… but no, Foggy and his lady seem to be genuinely in love, and his friends are left pottering around Holmfirth, miserable, lost and bereft of his company.

Until, of course, they decide to hire a car and pay him a visit… with Sid and Ivy in tow, under the pretext of visiting Ivy’s sister en route. And so we get some more curiously frank 1970s attitudes to sex… as Ivy clambers into the car, Compo brazenly attempts to look up her skirt – his childlike persona veering dangerously into bona fide sex pest territory. And then Sid openly admits he was ‘hoping to get round a few of those Welsh barmaids’! Is this idle male banter, or were unreconstructed 1970s husbands generally accepted to like ‘a bit on the side’, and their long-suffering wives just stood back and… well, suffered?

Andrew: Don’t ask me; I was but a glint in some café owner’s eye back then!

The Oncoming Storm

The Oncoming Storm

Bob: We see Clegg driving again, becoming increasingly nervous and incompetent behind the wheel of the car. There’s a lovely scene where our heroes are lost in the Welsh countryside, and there’s clearly a hell of a summer storm brewing in the distance! The skies are absolutely black, and full of thunder. Clearly just a happy accident, but it creates a gorgeous late-summer atmosphere.

It nicely foreshadows the tense scenes with Foggy as well, as Compo and Clegg finally arrive at his Welsh retreat, finding him holed up with his charming lady-friend and her seemingly frosty mother. The relationship between Foggy and Compo is nicely played by Wilde and Owen here… he’s genuinely mortified by Compo’s very presence in the house, clearly desperate not to offend his new, middle-class companions. He’s like a teenage boy, ushering his first girlfriend away from his embarrassing parents. It actually feels very odd to see such familiar Summer Wine characters in very well-to-do suburban 1970s settings… the house, the street and the cars on the drives are right out of Butterflies or Terry and June. It’s a stark contrast to the soot-stained terraces of Holmfirth.

Andrew: I get the impression that, had Clarke thought of this idea a few years later, this scenario would have warranted a feature-length episode. The idea of Compo and Clegg being sooo lonely without Foggy that they’ll drive across the country to hassle him is a lovely idea, but thirty minutes isn’t really enough time to do the story justice. I could quite happily have spent that amount of time watching Compo kick the back of Ivy’s seat as they potter along the M56. According to Google Maps, it would have taken them an hour and nineteen minutes to make it to the Welsh border. That’s a long time to be stuck in the car with Compo, even if he does claim to have washed that morning.

When Jean Boht comes in...

When Jean Boht comes in…

Bob: And, in a nice side-story, we actually meet Ivy’s sister, with Jean Boht putting in a fine snooty turn, well-served by some prime Roy Clarke dialogue. ‘I don’t think I’ve seen you since I papered the lounge,’ she trills, ‘I hope you like pale mustard’. You can almost smell the simmering social tension between the two sisters.

Andrew: She seems a bit wasted here. As you say, it’s a wonderful scene and performance. Even if the character doesn’t make her way back into the series, her spiritual sisters will continue in Clarke’s writing – see Edie Pegden and Hyacinth Bucket for a couple of examples of one of the writer’s favorite archetypes.

Bob: The episode ends, predictably, with Compo and the aforementioned frosty mother-in-law getting on like a house on fire (‘I want to see a pair of corsets hanging over the end of me bed’, he muses, longingly) and – even more predictably – with the injured Foggy rolling down a hill towards a shimmering lake.

Andrew: I actually rolled my eyes a bit when it was first hinted that Foggy would end up in the lake! Even the studio audience seemed to cluck at the fact that twist was coming. Then, just at the last minute, it was all saved by some good old-fashioned retribution.

Bob: All in all, it’s a very un-Summer Wine episode, and it never quite feels like it belongs to the rest of the series. An odd experiment.

And how did Foggy and his lady friend actually meet? Perhaps it’s best we never know…

Series 3 Episode 4: Cheering Up Gordon

S3E4a

In which the boarding house bathroom caper continues…

Bob: I’d forgotten this was a two-parter, and was surprised to find us still in Scarborough at the start of this episode! And – wahey – this is the first episode I can remember actually seeing on TV back in the day, because I distinctly recall an earnest school morning discussion between me and my friend Doug Simpson about the nature of the ‘popsicle’ scene…

Foggy: Lots of people swim in the North Sea.
Clegg: Only if they fall off a boat…
Compo: It’ll turn your popsicle blue!

It must have been a repeat, as I didn’t know Doug until 1983, but I clearly remember us debating whether Compo, when referring to a ‘popsicle’ was actually referring to… well… you know… he couldn’t be, could he? But now, 28 years on, I think I can safely say that – yes! He is! Filth, from Roy Clarke! Whatever next? Well… a semi-naked Brian Wilde, that’s what…

Andrew: When Foggy decides to strip off (PHWOAR) and venture into the sea, he’s really not that old-looking is he? In fact, Brian Wilde was only around fifty at the time. This struck me with Clegg in the first series as well. Summer Wine has this reputation for being ‘that show about old people’, but for the first half of its run, it isn’t anything of the sort.

Keep behind the barriers, ladies...

Keep behind the barriers, ladies…

Bob: Wilde was 48/49 during the filming of this series, so no – by today’s standards he’d barely be considered middle-aged. He’s only a decade older than me! Do we assume that the character of Foggy is meant to be considerably older than Wilde, given that all three of the main characters were clearly schoolfriends, and that Clegg and Compo are obviously closer to sixty than fifty?

Great scene anyway – there’s a studio audience member who’s absolutely howling with laughter as Foggy runs into the sea, and I love that kind of thing. It’s probably just me, but studio audience laughter these days seems much more smooth and generic than it used to be! There are lots of 70s sitcoms where you can pick out individual audience members laughing, with lots of coughing and little outbreaks of applause as well. It’s very charming.

Andrew: Absolutely. There’s one chap who yaks his way through a good chunk of Dad’s Army  and one particularly hysterical woman during Are You Being Served. And, for me, they’re pretty much  series regulars!

Bob: And in terms of dialogue, I think Roy Clarke is absolutely on fire at this stage. I laughed heartily, by myself, all the way through this episode – it’s just full of little gems. His writing for Wally Batty in particular is magnificent…

Nora: Are you going to sit there while he insults me?
Wally: No, I thought I’d go and have a look at the lifeboats.

Nora: You talk yourself into being miserable.
Wally: No I don’t, I just have to listen.

Nora: I don’t know what people must think. You’re on holiday.

Wally: Not really. If you’d come by yourself, then I’d have been on holiday. Remember that smashing fortnight when you had to go and nurse your mother?

I could listen to this all day. Joe Gladwin is just extraordinary – nobody has ever made twisted, hangdog misery so sensationally funny.

Andrew: Compo’s nephew Gordon is a pleasant addition as well. As our representative from the younger generation he’s clearly fond of his ‘Uncle Bill’ but has no interest at all in the trio’s time-wasting activities. In fact, he’s not really interested in any silliness at all.

Bob: We’ve seen a few of Compo’s family in these early episodes, haven’t we? Surprising, as he always seemed to be much more of a loner in later series. Gordon’s another lovely, world-weary character – very nicely played by Philip Jackson, who’ll forever be the Abbot Hugo in Robin Of Sherwood to me! He still pops up regularly on TV, but this is one of his earliest roles.

I have to mention that extraordinary scene on the beach as well, where Sid and Ivy – and there’s no easy way of putting this – discuss their sex life!

Ivy: You never talk to me, not even when me make love…
Sid: Not much to talk about is there, the rate we go at it? You still do it as if your mother’s watching.
Ivy: You should try and rouse me more…

Given that they spend most of the programme at violent loggerheads, you’d be forgiven for being amazed that Sid and Ivy have a sex life at all… and, in broader sitcoms, great comic play would undoubtedly be made of them being trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage. But their relationship is nothing of the sort – at the beginning of this scene, Ivy is wistfully lost in a romantic magazine, dreaming of the lithe-limbed lotharios that inhabit its pages. She absolutely wants to be loved and to be seduced, and still dreams that Sid can be that dream-like hunk in real life.

'You should try and rouse me more...'

‘You should try and rouse me more…’

I think we learn a lot about Ivy in this sequence… the fact that he falls so short of her ideals again and again is clearly the source of her constant anger and frustration at Sid. And, maybe, against the male gender as a whole? None of the idle, child-like men in Summer Wine are a match for the perfect, silky-voiced lovers in her books and magazines, and yet she can’t give up on the hopeless dream that, one day, Sid just MIGHT be. She really can’t. She has to keep dreaming… and just taking what she can from Sid in the hope that, some day, things WILL be perfect. 

An unexpected bit of sauciness at the end of the episode as well, when Compo heads out on the pull, and succeeds in bringing four women back from a local nightclub – one each for himself, Foggy, Clegg and Gordon! We only ever hear their screeching voices outside the boarding house door, but by crikey… you can just smell the gin-soaked breath and stale Benson and Hedges, and see the smudged lipstick and laddered fishnet stockings. And all in vain, because Gordon – bless him – is already enjoying a quiet game of chess with a charming redhead called Josie.

Clegg, predictably, runs upstairs. ‘Supposing they’d raped us…’ he trembles, later, reminding us that Summer Wine isn’t ready to settle into cosy teatime whimsy just yet.

Anyway, I loved these episodes. Can you tell? Absolutely my favourite of anything we’ve seen so far, and I think the series has hit an extraordinary peak at this stage. I genuinely can’t wait to carry on. 

Series 3 Episode 2: Mending Stuart's Leg

In which our new trio click into action, and scale the dizzy heights of the café roof…

Andrew: Whereas Blamire was seemingly happy to do anything, provided he was doing something, Foggy definitely seems to require a mission in life. Instead of aimlessly roaming the hills, our trio now head out on expeditions; and instead of loitering in the café, the greasy spoon is used as their base of operations, be they inspecting Sid’s roof or mending Stuart’s eponymous leg. The tone has already shifted from those early, meandering installments.

Bob: Ha! How odd, I was actually going to say that after a couple of tightly-focused episodes, we’re back to a bit of old school meandering! This episode is filled with delightful non-sequiteurs, many of which are provided by Foggy. ‘I made a good contact yesterday if you ever want any offcuts of polystyrene,’ he muses, a propos of nothing, in the opening scenes. ‘I see there’s been another failure in Soviet agriculture,’ he ponders later, during a gap in the conversation. I laughed out loud, as I did ten minutes later at the following exchange:

Compo: What’s wrong with me trousers?
Foggy: I realise you’re a socialist, but you could invest in another pair. You don’t have to wait for the council to pull the old pair down.

Contrasting political viewpoints, social and sartorial comment and a genuine, stunning laugh-out-loud gag in the space of two lines. Even if you knew nothing whatsoever about Compo or Foggy, you could still infer so much about their characters just by reading those two lines. Now THAT’s writing.

Insert your own Freemasonry joke here...

Insert your own Freemasonry joke here…

Andrew: And here we have it, the first instance of Clegg chickening out of something; in this case he sheepishly declines the opportunity to climb a rickety ladder and inspect some slates.

Bob: Yes! Foggy has instantly become the instigator and director of their activities, and Clegg now seems firmly entrenched as the reluctant non-participant that he remains for the next three and a half decades.

There are a few little character moments that intrigued me in this episode… I think, Drew, you mentioned that an earlier episode very subtly alluded to the fact that Sid and Ivy were childless, and I missed it completely. This time, following a classic argument, we get Ivy wistfully musing ‘Oooh, if I’d had kids…’  and the sentence is left for us to finish ourselves. There’s a definite sense of regret and melancholy that hangs over this fleeting scene.

And good to see Mr Wainwright back at the library! With another doe-eyed young acolyte – Miss Moody – now in tow.

Wainwright: I used to dream of leading the people into a better society…
Miss Moody: Maybe you still can?
Wainwright: (respectfully) There’s so much paperwork.

Fabulous.

‘There’s so much paperwork…’

And is it me, or does Compo’s shouted riposte to Nora as she rebuffs his advances yet again (‘It wasn’t like this on VE Night!’) suggest that they had a brief romantic tryst thirty years earlier, presumably before she married Wally? It’s an absolute revelation to think that his feelings towards her aren’t just the unrequited lust of an old letch, but an attempt to recapture a sensational night of passion from their long-lost salad days, on an occasion of unparalleled emotional release for the whole country. If that’s true, it must have been one of the most glorious nights of Compo’s life, and brings a whole new perspective to his character and motivations. He wants to feel young and happy and virile again, and rekindling a fleeting encounter with Nora has become fixed in his mind as the only way to do so… even though her appearance and personality have – we assume – been completely transformed since then. He just doesn’t see that, though! One of our constant sources of comedy so far as been exactly why Compo lusts after this sour-faced battleaxe – it just seemed inexplicable. But at last we have an answer! To Compo, Nora will always be the vibrant 20-year-old lass that gave herself to him at the ultimate national celebration. I actually feel like 37 years of Summer Wine suddenly makes a lot more sense!

Series 3 Episode 6: Going to Gordon's Wedding

In which Compo, for once, is best man…

Andrew: Amazingly, we’ve jumped from arguably the series’ weakest episode thus far, to one of the strongest. Clarke really has put his all into this finely observed, half-hour farce. To say that he’s back on form really doesn’t do this episode justice.

Bob: Yep, I enjoyed this too. It’s nice to see Compo’s nephew Gordon back in the series, although you wonder how long is meant to have passed between instalments, given that that Gordon is now marrying Josie, the elegant redhead he met in Scarborough only two episodes earlier! It’s a very 1970s wedding – all giant buttonholes, disapproving mothers and good-natured punch-ups over Tetley’s Best Bitter. And Gordon’s not the only returning character here… we get another cameo from Paul Luty as Big Malcolm, Compo’s towering relative, last spotted duffing up Foggy in the first episode of this series.

Is this Compo's sister? We're not sure!

Is this Compo’s sister? We’re not sure!

It all reinforces the feeling of Summer Wine being a running story taking place in a small, close-knit community, and it struck me that Foggy’s arrival seems to have heralded a slight stylistic change… in Blamire’s two series, our three heroes are very much portrayed as outsiders, literally spending their days around the peripheries of town life, sitting in disused barns and abandoned factories. In Series 3, we’ve seen MUCH less of the countryside… the show has been far more grounded in sitting rooms, pubs, cafes and boarding houses, and Compo has been shown to be pretty close to several members of his extended family. It has to be a deliberate move.

Andrew: There’s some lovely domestic material here, from the competitive mothers and the forced jollity of family gatherings to Clegg’s brilliant comparison of weddings and flying… ‘When you consider how many weddings there are, it makes you realize what a safe way it is to go. It’s just that, in regard to weddings, if there is an accident then it’s usually rather a nasty one’.

Bob: Yes, I love the scene in Gordon’s mother’s sitting room… the sheer awkwardness of making polite conversation with distant family members, suffocated by floral wallpaper and that ominous, ticking clock. The desperate, nervous laughter and the young, randy couple snogging obliviously on the sofa.

Do we assume, then, that Gordon’s flighty and giggly mother, clearly three sheets to the wind by the middle of the morning, is actually Compo’s sister? It’s never specified, but the way she greets him at the door (‘Lovely to see you love, I knew you wouldn’t let me down,’ she beams, proudly, stroking the shoulder of his suit) is every inch the actions of a proud sister rather than a more distant relative.

Andrew: I guess we’ll find out for sure in First of the Summer Wine, if Roy Clarke remembers she exists by then.

Bob: If so, it’s intriguing to note that Foggy seems to take something of a shine to her, repeatedly vying for her attention and attempting to take photos of her! Can you imagine the comic potential if that relationship had developed? Oh, the shame he’d have brought upon the proud Dewhurst name… 

Josie. She's a pussycat.

Josie. She’s a pussycat.

Andrew: There’s also a nice line in physical comedy, and unlike The Kink In Foggy’s Niblick, it doesn’t seem forced. Compo’s buttonhole, the noisy wedding present, the damaged best man and Foggy’s ongoing feud with Big Malcolm are all nicely signposted and extend naturally from the characters and situation.

Bob: Indeed, and I loved Josie’s line to her father outside the church, flicking up her bridal veil and hissing ‘You see it so many times on wedding photos… embarrassed fathers pining for their overalls…’ Never a truer word spoken, and – again – a fine, pithy and beautifully concise bit of writing. We learn so much about both Josie and her fathers’ characters – and the relationship between them – from that single line.

Andrew: What strikes me most of all is how big and confident it seems. A lot is packed into twenty-nine minutes… not only the situation itself, but also the sheer number of characters involved. The world of Summer Wine suddenly opens out to include extended families and old friends like Gordon and Malcolm.

Bob: And all drenched in that glorious 1970s sunshine, on washed-out 16mm film. All is right with the world, and I want to carry on… 

Series 3 Episode 7: Isometrics and After

In which Foggy yearns for physical jerks and Compo puts something nasty in a matchbox…

Bob: After everything I said about Series 3 having a distinctly different tone, we’re suddenly back to a very traditional Summer Wine episode – in fact, I’m even tempted to wonder if this instalment might have started life as a Blamire episode, it’s so reminiscent of that earlier style. There’s a lot of meandering and musing in the countryside, a typically lusty Wainwright diatribe in an extended library sequence, and more than a few gritty political references. 

Andrew: I get the impression that Roy Clarke is a hoarder of ideas and gags, stockpiling material that could come in handy later on. As you say, this does feel a little like an episode from the first or second series, but there are examples from much later on as well… the first feature length episode being based upon an older novel, or the characters of Howard, Pearl and Marina being extracted from a touring stage show. That’s the benefit of everything being written by one man, I suppose; nothing goes to waste!

Operation Swordblade won't help you now...

Operation Swordblade won’t help you now…

Bob: And to cap it all, we begin with a marvelously morbid speech from Compo… ‘When tha’s dead, tha’s dead,’ he ponders, ‘I saw our Walter when that safe landed on him, and if he was having any sort of afterlife, he wasn’t enjoying it’. Again, just beautifully economic writing – from a single line we learn about Compo’s atheism, his dubious family background, the grisly death of his relative and his gruesomely black sense of humour. When Roy Clarke is on form, his dialogue is just unbeatable.

Having described this episode as being evocative of the earlier style, there is one major difference – Clegg’s character. We were frequently surprised in Series 1 by Clegg’s swearing and his use of some surprisingly fruity (and grumpy) turns-of-phrase, but in this episode he deliberately swerves to avoid even the most minor of cussing… ‘People who want to be nice are a pain in the ar-r-r-m…’ he stammers. And, having been the main instigator of adventures during the Blamire years, he now steadfastly refuses to join in with Foggy’s exercise regime. The gentrification of Clegg is complete!

Andrew: And he’s clearly been scarred by Blamire’s canoeing scheme. Having been forced to walk through the town in a swimming costume, Clegg has no desire to go through a similar experience. I love the lines, ‘I should be reluctant to start anything that might involve taking me vest off,’ and ‘This latest plot of yours has the squeak of plimsolls and the flash of nipples about it. Or is it the flash of plimsolls and the squeak of nipples?’ That pretty much sums up the reason I’ve stayed away from the swimming baths for the past ten years…

Bob: There’s a lovely scene in this episode where Clegg and Compo wander to a babbling brook without the isometrics-obsessed Foggy, and we get a real impression of just how close a friendship they’ve forged over the decades. ‘There’s some good rabbit droppings here!’ exclaims a gleeful Compo. ‘Fill your pockets kid, there’s nobody looking,’ grins Clegg and the warmth between the two characters is a joy to behold… two very disparate characters on the face of it, but Compo’s enthusiasm for the base and grotty aspects of life seems to bring out a childlike glow in Clegg as well.

You wonder what their relationship was like during the decades when Clegg was married? I can only picture a classic Bob and Terry relationship, with Mrs Clegg surely disapproving of Compo’s presence in ‘her’ Norman’s life. And yet, in these latter years, they’ve absolutely rekindled what was surely a close childhood bond. And utterly regressed to those halcyon days. It’s great to watch, and Sallis and Owen make a fine double act.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Andrew: I can imagine the two barely seeing each other while Clegg was married, and don’t forget that Compo was married for a bit as well. It all contributed to the impression we have of them making up for lost time by spending so much of their retirement messing around in the countryside.

Bob: And brace yourself, but we have another historic Summer Wine ‘first’ to report… this is our inaugural sighting of Compo’s legendary matchbox! And it’s the mild-mannered librarian Miss Moody who has the honour of being his first female victim… screaming in horror as Compo shows her the terrors within. What a fabulous running joke, and how gloriously evocative of that bygone generation of Northern men – my childhood was filled with strange neighbours and elderly relatives who kept all manner of gruesome souvenirs for posterity… owl pellets, teeth, and full menageries of stuffed and pickled beasties.

Andrew: The tradition still continues. I’ve told you about my Mam and her box of loose teeth, haven’t I?

Bob: No. And you must feel absolutely at liberty to keep that information entirely to yourself.

Andrew: I genuinely have no idea of what Compo could have in that matchbox, though. I wonder if Clarke ever knew?

Bob: Interesting to see that Nora is now working in the café! There were suggestions in an earlier episode that she didn’t have much time for Ivy, but Sid (in a nice piece of continuity) now seems to have acquired the mobile chip van that he was saving for, and so Nora provides an extra pair of hands in the café – ‘because she doesn’t have recognisable boobs’, according to Ivy. I like to think the thawing of their relationship began during that idyllic weekend in Scarborough earlier in the series, but then it’s possible I think too much about these things.

Farewell, Mr Wainwright

Farewell, Mr Wainwright

Andrew: No, I think you’re on the money there. There was a nice sense of community in those episodes and, given that Ivy was on her best behavior at the Bed and Breakfast, I’d like to think she and Nora were brought together by forced civility. I think those two episodes actually kickstarted what later develops into the extended Summer Wine family, clearly marking out characters like Sid, Ivy, Nora and Wally as continuing regulars rather than guest artists.

Speaking of guest characters, we say goodbye to Mr. Wainwright once again, this time for good. It makes sense really, as the library isn’t used much now that the series has found its feet in the countryside and café, but I’ll miss his political spin on… well, pulling. It’s actually quite nice to leave him at this point. When first introduced, Wainwright was the intellectual dreamer with his eyes on a Eliza Doolittle protégé, but in this episode it’s clear that Miss Moody is more on the ball than he is.

Miss Moody: Elliot’s Wasteland is depressingly real, Mr Wainwright.

Wainwright: Absolutely. I can’t understand why the council doesn’t slap him with a compulsory purchase.

Bob: And, in a charming finish to a hugely enjoyable third series, our three heroes actually ride into the sunset on horseback. Surely Roy Clarke’s little homage to the golden age of the Hollywood Western? It’s amazing to contemplate that it’s barely half-a-dozen episodes since we were first introduced to Foggy Dewhurst, and yet the series now seems unthinkable without him – what a huge testament to Brian Wilde’s skills as a comic actor. We’re about to enter, arguably, the golden age of Summer Wine