Summer Winos»Archive for July 2015

Archive for July 2015

Series 8 Episode 1: The Mysterious Feet of Nora Batty

In which Wally has a furtive peep…

Bob: And so to 1985, and a series that I think is the end of a hugely significant era for Last of the Summer Wine. Things were never quite the same after this! But there are no signs of the upheaval to come just yet, and we start – as so often we do – with Compo, Clegg and Foggy on the moors.

Foggy: He’s the best advert for euthanasia I’ve ever seen.
Compo: Toothpaste?

Be honest, Drew – did you get this?

Andrew: I assumed that there must have been a brand of toothpaste whose name sounded somewhat like euthanasia. Am I even close?

Bob: Congratulations! You win your own weight in pink goo. Yes indeed, Euthymol toothpaste.  It looks like it’s still available, but I’m guessing it’s not widely used amongst actual young people. There was powder, too! When I was a young, my Gran cleaned her teeth with Euthymol powder, essentially a small white tub of fine, pink sand that you dipped your wet toothbrush into. It tasted like a combination of bleach and Liquorice Allsorts, and had a slightly anaesthetic effect on the tongue. For twenty minutes after getting up every morning, I was unable to pronounce the letter ‘t’.

Andrew: Well I hope you brushed your teeth after breakfast, because that would seriously limit your options.

Bob: I just asked my Gran for ea and oas. On a ray.

Andrew: I think it’s also worth noting that this the second episode in a row to feature Clegg spinning a bit of whimsy involving Hitler. Was Roy Clarke watching repeats of The World at War when he was writing this run?

Bob: Even a bonus dose of Hitler Whimsy can’t hold up the pace of this episode, though. It comes out of the blocks like Steve Ovett, and we establish in the first few minutes that our heroes are going to spend the ensuing thirty minutes measuring the size of Nora Batty’s feet. Blimey, is this a record for us getting to the crux of an episode?

Andrew: I really like how genuinely protective Compo is of Nora here. ‘She’s not got big feet!’ he cries, taking genuine offence. To me, this is a lovely little acknowledgement that Compo isn’t just a little sex pest, and that he really does have deep-rooted feelings for her, beneath all of his lust and bluster.

Bob: And so poor Wally is dragged into the pub to have his testimony extracted. So to speak. Is it me, or is the studio audience unusually lively in this episode? They’re absolutely hysterical! It’s like watching Happy Days. I expected Wally to get a round of applause when he first appeared.

Andrew: Well, Wally and The Fonz both ride motorcycles… actually, I think the comparison ends there. If any character deserves a round of applause every time they enter the scene, however, it’s Wally.

Bob: Good to see they’re drinking Mild! A good West Yorkshire pint, that.

I’m actually baffled to learn from Alan JW Bell’s book that Brian Wilde had to be talked into this series, feeling that the scripts weren’t all they could have been. Because the dialogue in this episode is absolutely sparkling, with Roy Clarke taking his love of the non-sequitur to almost surreal levels. According to Clegg, Wally is ‘dark and Slavonic… I always imagine Dostoevsky as being rather like him’.

And ‘hands up everybody who cannot describe an ilk’! And the entire pub does! This is weird and utterly inspired.

Andrew: I think I’d describe this scene as Joe Gladwin’s finest moment, though I seem to say that about every scene he appears in these days. He’s on fine form for this episode, however, and Clarke’s sparkling script really does bring out some fine comic acting.

Bob: Yes, this is a truly magnificent episode for our hero! If The Loxley Lozenge was a charming showcase for Gordon Wharmby, then this is a love letter to Joe Gladwin and his extraordinary comic timing and exquisite hangdog misery. ‘I’m being held in this boozer against me will,’ he deadpans. ‘Which I must say is a big improvement in me normal standard of living’.

Mind you, I raised an eyebrow at Wally’s concerns about being ‘sterile’! Nora and Wally don’t appear to have any kids, do they? And nor did Sid or Ivy, as far as we ever learn. I guess having lively thirty or fortysomething offspring forever buzzing around these two lifeless family units would have ruined the ethos of Summer Wine; that focus on older people eking away their time with literally nothing to do. Wally and Nora wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny if they had a jolly, happily married son or daughter to fuss over.

Andrew: I can only think of one Summer Wine couple from the entire run with a child who plays a major role in the series – later on we’ll meet Wesley’s wife Edie, and their daughter Glenda. Sid and Ivy, Wally and Nora, Howard and Pearl, and Barry and Glenda are all childless. Aside from Compo, none of our leads are referred to as having sired off-screen offspring either, are they? And even that was a bit of a retcon for the character. I’d be genuinely interested to know where this comes from. Is it, as you say, a plot convenience, or does Roy Clarke have some sort of personal connection with this trope?

We can’t gloss over the fact that Wally appears to be wary of accepting strange pints after having his drink ‘nobbled’ at the pigeon club. His reference to this goes absolutely nowhere, but that’s certainly a bit of backstory I’d love to hear more about. Who on earth slipped Wally Batty a roofy?!

Bob:  That should have been an episode title in its own right. And whoah, what a superb close-up of Joe Gladwin! For a man with a reputation for showing off Summer Wine’s glorious scenery, Alan JW Bell also knows the value of a good, comedy close-up. The audience roar as Wally is clearly traumatised, trying to work out the part of Nora’s body that our heroes wish to examine at close quarters. There’s a battleground of emotions being played out across those craggy features. And then:

If she were attacked right in front of me eyes, I’d have to stand there helpless. She could have the bloke mauled to death before I could drag her off.

Magnificent!

Andrew: Not to be insensitive, but have you noticed Gladwin’s nose in this episode? We’ve spoken at length about his worn features, but his conk looks positively necrotic here – it’s a completely different colour to the rest of his face! I hope it wasn’t painful.

I’ve no worthwhile point to make about this other than that you would never ever see an actor go before a television camera like that these days. I think there’s a much thicker level of artificiality when it comes to the presentation of characters in modern television, and it permeates costume, make-up, and even casting itself. Show me one unconventional-looking sitcom lead today and I’ll eat my hat.

Bob: Into the café, and mark this down as a historic moment… without a doubt, it’s the first exclamation of ‘What the blood and stomach pills?!!!’ from Ivy! Do ladies of a certain age still do this kind of ‘nearly’ swearing? Just as Ivy is clearly restraining herself from saying ‘What the bloody hell’, I remember elderly relatives in my distant youth saying things like ‘Oh, my godfathers…’ to narrowly avoid taking the name of Our Lord in vain.

Andrew: Despite generally having a mouth like a Tourette’s-stricken docker, this sort of avoidance is certainly something that has been passed down to me from previous generations. Emma shoots me some various curious glances if I let slip with a ‘Blummin’ Heck’.

Can I admit to something rather embarrassing here? In my notes for this episode I wrote ‘First Blood and Stomach Pills’ and while writing this up, I spent ten minutes scouring the episode for a reference to Rambo that I assumed I’d forgotten.

Bob: Ha! Ha! Sylvester Stallone, of course, played Foggy in the big-budget Hollywood Summer Wine remake. You know, the one that – thank God – never actually happened.

Right… 1985 Price Watch: 75p for Pasty and Chips, 20p for a Chip Butty. On the café blackboard. I like Compo’s cheeky kiss on Foggy’s fizzog as well, it’s a really nice affectionate touch. Despite their constant sniping, let’s not forget that Foggy and Compo have been friends for – what? At least 55 years at this point? A passing peck seems fair enough to me. ‘Italians do it all the time’, grumbles Wally. ‘Men kissing each other at the railway station. You see some terrible things in the war’.

I’d give Joe Gladwin an affectionate kiss, though. He deserves it for a performance like this.

Andrew: 1985 Shop Watch: I’ve set myself the mission of keeping track of the shop that is visible at the end of Compo and Nora’s street in order to chart its evolution through the years. As of 1985, the unit is occupied by G.W. Castle Ltd. Now you know.

Bob: Good work. It’s about time we got ourselves a hobby. Hey, this is a lovely scene of Foggy attempting to draw out Wally’s memories of Nora’s feet by regressing him to the cold winter nights of the early days of his marriage. It’s incredibly sweet, with Ronnie Hazlehurst providing a charming, gentle soundtrack. And Foggy is an old romantic at heart, isn’t he? He paints a lovely picture here.

Andrew: There’s some champion gurning from Bill Owen, as Foggy attempts to jog Wally’s memory by conjuring up images of Nora in her nightie.

Now is it just me, or has the series’ relationship with filmed location inserts changed recently? The show has always been made up of pre-filmed inserts, placed between scenes shot in front of a studio audience, but here the balance seems to have changed slightly, with the studio scenes acting in support of the film. Am I imagining this shift? We don’t have time to go back and watch all of the episodes again!

Bob: I think there’s definitely a lot more location work than there used to be, especially in the town itself. We’ve moved in from the moors a bit, haven’t we?

Mind you, these final studio scenes, with Wally in the house casting furtive glances at Nora’s feet from all kinds of awkward angles, are an absolute delight… just brilliant physical comedy. ‘It’s like having a piece of furniture coming alive’, barks Nora, and I’m absolutely sold on the prospect of a man of Wally’s generation having absolutely no idea about the size of his wife’s feet. I wonder if my Dad knows what my Mum’s shoe size is? I bet he doesn’t.

Andrew: A big laugh from me as Nora questions, ‘Have you been readin’ funny books?!’ Just the idea of Wally attempting to procure such things…

I also love Nora’s motherly instructing of Wally to ‘Wash your hands for tea’, as though he were a child. Saying that, my own pre-meal hand washing has gone downhill since moving out of my parents house, so maybe she’s quite right to remind him.

Bob: You’ve baked cakes for me, too. I feel a a bit queasy now. Hang on a second here, has Foggy just SHOPLIFTED? He seems to have smuggled a footsizer out of a respectable shoe shop, clutching it beneath the folds of his jacket! What’s going on? The scales have fallen from my eyes! The man is a habitual recidivist, and a menace to society. What? WHAT???! Have I got this right?

Andrew: That certainly seems to be the case ,and absolutely nothing is made of the fact! If this was Series One or Two, the entire episode would have revolved around the planning and execution of this heist!

The trio take their illicit footsizer, attach it to a comically long pole, and attempt to measure up Nora from a safe distance, as she climbs a ladder to clean the windows. I love the ridiculousness of the footsizer creeping into frame behind Nora’s heel and the scene is improved immeasurably by what I think is Ronnie Hazlehurst making a subtle musical reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Brilliant.

Bob: Oh, brilliant spot! I never got that! A great episode, I think, and the show is on fine form at the moment. And I’d be amazed if this wasn’t one of Joe Gladwin’s favourite episodes… it’s virtually built around him, and gives him countless opportunities to show off his impeccable comic timing. I really think he’s one of Summer Wine’s great unsung heroes – Wally is a truly brilliant and loveable comic character, and it’s episodes like this that make me regret that Wally and Nora never had their own George and Mildred-style spin off.

Christmas Special 1984: The Loxley Lozenge


In which Wesley gets hot under the chassis…

Andrew: Before we begin, some context. From what we’ve been able to gather, The Loxley Lozenge started life as just another episode of Series Eight, before being picked out for broadcast over the Christmas period. Several online sources have suggested that the character of Crusher actually appeared in this episode upon first broadcast, only to be cut from subsequent repeats, as well as the UK DVD release. The only reason we could imagine this being done is that Crusher is actually introduced to the trio for the first time during Keeping Britain Tidy, the second episode of the eighth series.

The thing is, however, we haven’t been able to find much actual evidence of Crusher being snipped from this episode! For starters, there’s no logical place in the story where he might have been included. Then there’s the fact that he’s not listed during the closing credits. It would have been a lot of effort for the BBC to have excised his scene AND remade the credits from scratch by superimposing captions over the original film insert.

So, dear readers, what do you make of this conundrum? Ideally, the best way to settle this would be for some clever soul to come forward with an off-air VHS recording of the initial broadcast. Is there anybody out there? [UPDATE: SKIP TO THE END TO READ WHAT OUR READERS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO UNCOVER]

Bob: I’d rather settle it in the boxing ring, like gentlemen. Who wants some? Actually, although I can’t provide a VHS from the original broadcast, I can provide some cast-iron proof that I actually watched it. Here’s my GENUINE DIARY ENTRY from Sunday 30th December 1984…

 

1984 Diary 30th December copy

 

So there you go! I was twelve years old and, after a day spent messing about on my brand new ZX Spectrum 48K computer, I watched two of the greatest pieces of fantasy drama ever committed to celluloid. Oh, and Star Wars. Ha! Ha! Only joking, amateur Jedi. But yes, I loved Summer Wine so much that I actually tore myself away from that infernal rubber keyboard and ‘hung around’ to watch The Loxley Lozenge on first broadcast. And – brace yourself – I was all excited because Loxley was, of course, the lost medieval village that the titular hero in Robin of Sherwood hails from. I’d spent much of 1984 utterly obsessed with this show, and went into the Summer Wine Christmas special half-expecting Ray Winstone, Clive Mantle and Nickolas Grace to come charging out of Wesley’s shed, firing arrows into the side of Mottishaw’s bakery.

Actually, if Summer Wine ever comes back, there’s your main trio right there! I’d watch. Providing I could tear myself away from the ZX Spectrum 48K emulator I’ve got installed on this laptop. Complete with Atic Atac. And I have Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz on DVD! And The Loxley Lozenge, obviously. Drew, come over sometime and we can recreate Sunday 30th December 1984! My parents can pop in too, and you can pretend to be my Gran. Is this getting creepy yet?

Andrew: I’ll only agree to this if your uncle Trevor swings by and your dad belts out some show tunes.

You’ve missed out one important detail in discussing this diary entry, you know. You hung around until Last of the Summer Wine began at 7:45, but you also wrote your diary entry at 7:45. Call yourself a fan?! You probably missed Ashley Jackson’s cameo.

Bob: Do you know what? I think my Radio Times scan (see below) actually explains this! The episode was broadcast at 7.15pm, so I clearly just wrote down the wrong time in my diary. And then wrote the entry as soon as it had finished. Although Big Deal was on straight afterwards, which explains why I raced through it. Big Deal is ace!

And yes, Ashley Jackson, the painter we see in these opening scenes, is a genuine working landscape artist from Holmfirth. You can find his work here…

Ashley Jackson’s Website

And I tell you what… his stuff is bloody gorgeous. I might have to buy Christmas on Littlecake for my landing. We should go and have a chat with him sometime!

Andrew: Preferably while he’s trying to get on with some painting, causing him to shoo us away. Actually, I’d love to meet with him just to ask what became of the in-progress paintings we see in this episode. Those would surely be the Holy Grails of Last of the Summer Wine collectables!

Bob: Gordon Wharmby is great, isn’t he? It’s a ‘big’ performance, but he somehow makes it feel completely real. He doesn’t play it solely for laughs, he absolutely understands the obsessiveness of men like Wesley, and gets that across perfectly.

Andrew: Wesley strikes me as one of those characters who is a perfect fusion of writer and actor. Wharmby feeds off Clarke’s wonderful words, but Clarke’s words are equally tailored to the actor’s inherent likability.

Bob: I like Foggy’s mission statement as well… ‘we’ll always listen to any legal proposition’. They are basically a geriatric version of The Goodies! They’ll take on anything, any time, anywhere.

Yikes! Scrub what I said about the Robin of Sherwood reboot. Summer Wine needs relaunching with THE GOODIES IN IT!!! This is TV gold in the making. Who do we write to? Why haven’t we got Roy Clarke on speed dial yet?

Andrew: Didn’t I send you a copy of the restraining order?

Bob: Clegg has a lovely flight-of-fancy monologue here about Hitler’s hitherto untold story as a young Ovaltiney! ‘They made him give his badge back’. Has the idea of Hitler as a ludicrous figure of fun now faded from memory? From the 1940s from the 1980s, he was a character that loomed large in British comedy – lampooned, sent up and pilloried mercilessly by everyone from Charlie Chaplin to The Goons to Basily Fawlty and even Freddie Starr. Was this British society slowly working the horrors of the Second World War out of its system? I wonder. It’s certainly hard to imagine Hitler being referenced in modern comedy… I guess he’s s slowly slipped from being a character within living memory to a distant historical figure. But I also wonder if the Nazis are seen as ‘off limits’ for comedy these days… as though the whole subject is now deemed too horrible to place AT ALL in a comedic context. But I’m not sure that’s the right approach, it’s almost as though we’re scared of Hitler all over again. I think the piss needs royally taking.

Andrew: Might I suggest you’re overthinking this one? Clearly what actually happened was that a memo went out declaring Hitler off limits after a parody of him was perfected in the sublime 1990 masterpiece, Heil Honey, I’m Home.

Bob: Make it stop. Please, just make it stop. Do we need to explain The Ovaltineys as well? My Gran used to drink Ovaltine at bedtime. Just helping you get into character, Drew.

Andrew: I think I might know more about the Ovaltineys than you, actually, little scruffy person. As a formerly highly valued member of the teaching profession, my History of Broadcasting students used to sit in wide-eyed wonder as I expounded upon the history of Radio Luxemburg. At least I think it was wide-eyed wonder; that expression could have had something to do with the matchsticks that were propping their lids open.

From memory, I believe Clegg continues to reference his status as an Ovaltiney well into the 2000s.

Bob: Awwww… no Sid in the café. That’s a real culture shock, although Jane Freeman is in good form. ‘I shall treat you as though you were a recognisable human being’, she tells Wesley – and I’m a bit surprised to see that she clearly doesn’t know him! Holmfirth is clearly a small town, and they’re both – ahem – ‘characters’ who have been around for a few years, so it seems quite odd that they’ve never bumped into each other.

Andrew: The loss of John Comer is sorely felt by us, the audience, but the programme makes no reference to Sid’s absence, and won’t do so for several years to come. This is something I’m a little conflicted about when it comes to Last of the Summer Wine. Quite a few characters vanish over the years due to the passing of the actors who played them, and only very rarely are the characters ever mentioned as having also died. On the one hand, having loved the characters, I’d like to see them given a farewell, but on the other it would be very easy to get bogged down by their loss. Why draw attention to the big Sid-shaped hole in this episode when Clarke can use that time to make us laugh? Actually, there’s also something very Northern about just getting on with it.

Bob: Oh god, Wesley paying for his tea in pennies… I used to do this too. In the days when a cup of tea cost 20p, it actually wasn’t THAT outrageous! I even remember going into the corner shop near my school sometime in the long-lost sepia-tinted haze of my childhood, having found a penny on the floor outside… and using it to buy two halfpenny sweets. Yes, I am an Edwardian urchin. I think I’d spent all morning with my nose pressed up against the shop window. Until I went home to play Atic Atac on my ZX Spectrum 48K.

Compo thinks he’s about to star in a blue movie! Oh, I actually remember getting embarrassed about this back in December 1984. When you’re twelve years old, the LAST thing you want to happen when you’re watching TV with your parents is for anything remotely connected to ‘how’s your father’ to appear onscreen. I used to live in fear of heaving buttocks on Channel 4.

Andrew: That reminds me – how is your father?

Bob: Fine, and singing show tunes. Does this morbid, suffocating embarrassment at the ‘TV SEX SCENE’ (in reality, usually barely more than a bit of chaste rolling around beneath satin sheets) still exist for kids today, or are they all watching hardcore porn on their iPads and shrugging their shoulders?

Andrew: You’re a naïve man if you think they’re just shrugging their shoulders…

Bob: Wesley has a secret, and Clegg reassures him that ‘none of us went to Cambridge’. Woah, a spy ring reference! Kim Philby, Donald MacLean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt had passed official secrets to the Russians during wartime, and were exposed, one-by-one, in a process that lasted from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. It’s a historical reference that went completely over my head in 1984, but I guess it’s merely the equivalent of a modern comedy making jokes about Margaret Thatcher. Which makes me feel ancient. You’ll have to look after me one day, Drew. I want a bath chair. And an ear trumpet.

This is such a lovely pub scene, with Wesley discreetly informing our trio – amidst much paranoid scanning for earwiggers – that he’s ‘found a Loxley Lozenge’.

Andrew: Can we just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the name ‘Loxley Lozenge’? Just say it out loud. Nice and slowly. Isn’t that a pleasant thing to say? It also seems to have been custom built to trip off the tongue of Gordon Warmby.

Bob: The ensuing madness, as Foggy attempts to decipher this bizarre declaration, is a magnificent example of Clarke’s writing and Brian Wilde’s delivery working in perfect tandem. ‘Let me put it through the computer,’ says Foggy, tapping his temple. ‘I read widely through the kind of information found in pocket diaries’.

Oh, glorious. Character work done to perfection! Foggy is absolutely the kind of man who would commit to memory the dates of Yom Kippur and Princess Anne’s birthday, and the conversion formula required to convert acres into hectares. All of which, I hasten to add, are located on the first two pages of my 1984 diary. Before I start waffling on about Terrahawks* and the latest Fighting Fantasy book.

And you know what? I miss those men. I fear forthcoming generations will commit no facts, figures and aimless trivia to memory whatsover, because they won’t need to. It’s all on their bloody iPad at the touch of a button, together with oceans of hardcore filth and ZX Spectrum emulators. But there’s no substitute for hard, tangible knowledge and decades of accumulated wisdom. And I’ll still be saying that in my bath chair when I can barely remember where my ears are.

(Matron: ‘They’re in the bathroom cabinet, next to your teeth!’)

Andrew: I’m ashamed to say that the abundance of technology in my life has led to me completely forgetting any of the mathematics I was ever taught at school. I’m still a wiz at writing BOOBIES with an upside-down calculator, though!

Bob: I love the way Brian Wilde says ‘cough sweet’. There’s such a brilliant, military precision about his manner of speech. And Roy Clarke is still on great, whimsical form here, too. ‘Cromwell denounced them as the Devil’s Baubles’ indeed.

Andrew: Is this as whimsical as Clarke has ever allowed himself to be in Last of the Summer Wine? Foggy doesn’t believe he’s making all of this history up, of course, but his entire back-story to the Loxley Lozenge is just as fantastical as Clegg’s rather more self-knowing Hitler yarn. This is really, really beautiful writing.

Bob: Let’s get to the crux! The Loxley Lozenge is an ancient racing car, and clearly the Holy Grail for a seasoned autophile like Wesley, even though the relic he has unearthed is little more than a rusted chassis. ‘This old girl’s not as bad as she looks,’ he beams, proudly. ‘That’s what they said about Lavinia the Strangler,’ grimaces Clegg.

At first I thought this was another splendid Clarke non-sequitur, but now I’m not so sure if it refers to this lady! She doesn’t appear to have strangled anyone, though – she was more of a consummate poisoner. What do we think?

Lavinia Fisher

The Loxley Lozenge, bare and rusty as it is, gets a big laugh from the studio audience. But you know what? I think it’s rather lovely! And it’s absolutely right and touching that a man like Wesley would find pride in salvaging and restoring it. Were the 1980s the culmination of a couple of decades of wanton disposability? I have a feeling they were. When I was a kid, no-one hung onto ‘old stuff’… it was chucked out. People wanted NEW and IMPROVED, and the idea of homely retro chic would have seemed ridiculous. My parents are still pretty ruthless when it comes to decluttering the house. ‘Oh, that old thing? It went in the bin just last week…’ (Cue me scrabbling through potato peelings to look for a rack of ancient VHS tapes)

Anyway, I’ve done a bit of research on vintage car sites, and although the Loxley Lozenge itself is fictional, it seems to be widely agreed that the actual chassis used in the show is that of an old Austin Sheerline…

The Austin Sheerline

Andrew: Widely agreed?! You just toss that off as if it isn’t utterly remarkable that there is more than one man out there who has decided that tracking down the true origins of this forty-year-old television sitcom prop is a worthwhile use of his time on Earth!

Bob: The door falls off Wesley’s landrover, and he casually picks it up and sticks it in the back. I have done this. Not with a door, but with the back bumper of a Hillman Imp that I was travelling in, circa 1991. It clattered off on a country lane near Hutton Rudby, and I watched it bounce into a ditch through the fogged-up back window. My friend slammed on the brakes, rolled his eyes, and wearily backed up the car to collect it.

My dad also claims to have lost his entire exhaust while travelling down the A19 in a Triumph Toledo. Again, he just shoved it onto the back seat and carried on with his journey. Chew on this, 21st century children of the onboard diagnostic computer.

Andrew: Have you ever owned a car that wasn’t falling to bits? There have been at least two occasions I can think of where it seemed quite likely your car was going to have to be towed away from my driveway. Are you maintaining some sort of elaborate tribute to Gordon Wharmby?

Bob: My entire life is an elaborate tribute to Gordon Wharmby. A lovely bit of Wally and Nora business, right at the death! Chuntering deliciously to each other in their motorbike and sidecar.

Nora: Talk to me. You never speak to me.
Wally: I spoke to you yesterday. I asked you where me elastic bandage was.
Nora: You used to like my company once.
Wally: Oh aye, once. But now I’ve got it all week.


Andrew:
The sight of Wally and Nora in their motorbike and sidecar is never going to fail to make me laugh. My highlight of this scene has to be:

Nora: You’re wicked you are. You do this ‘harmless old man who loves his pigeons’ act, but I know you’re wicked.

There’s so much truth to this dialogue. The mutual distrust and surface level bitterness masking what again actually appears to be a very solid relationship. It also doesn’t hurt that this scene is beautifully performed by Gladwin and Staff. Look closely and you can actually catch Gladwin breaking out of character and stifling a giggle at one point – magical.

Bob: It’s marvellous. Nobody writes like this any more. And after all that, she offers him a Raspberry Ruffle! It’s love. Just not as we know it.

And, unlike the Loxley Lozenge, Raspberry Ruffles are real. You can buy them at any good, traditional sweetshop…

Raspberry Ruffles

Andrew: Tasked with steering the Loxley Lozenge as Wesley tows her home, our trio take to a sofa that has been lashed to its rusting chassis. It isn’t long, of course, before said sofa breaks loose and sends them hurling down a hill only to come to a stop behind a bemused Ashley Jackson. Full circle.

Bob: Yet another Christmas episode with no Christmas trappings whatsoever, but I enjoyed that enormously. A great premise with some truly sparkling dialogue, and a huge compliment to Gordon Wharmby to have such a prestigious episode built around his talents. What a top turn.

Andrew: I’d rank that as one of the best of the series’ run so far. It’s wonderfully written and the cast are at the top of their game. If this is a sign of things to come, Series Eight is shaping up to be something special.

* Andrew You know, I never thought I’d find reason to plug this here, but I happen to be one of the script editors of the revived audio drama series of Terrahawks. Yes, there is such a thing. If you’re as nostalgia-driven as Fischer is, why not treat yourself to this free taster episode?

The Loxley Lozenge

UPDATE:
Thanks to our brilliant readers, we’ve been able to figure out what became of Crusher’s appearance in this episode. Rather than beginning its life as a separately comissioned episode for Christmas, The Loxley Lozenge was produced as part of the regular run of Series Eight. It was later chosen as the best episode to be transmitted over the Christmas period, but as the character had not yet been introduced to viewers, it seems that the decision was made to edit his appearance from the episode. This is how The Loxley Lozenge was first transmitted. For a repeat run in 1985, however, the BBC returned to the original master tape and transmitted the episode with Crusher’s scene intact. This was also the version of the episode later released on the The Finest Vintage VHS release. A big thank you to everybody who contributed towards clearing this up!