Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 1 Episode 1: Short Back and Palais Glide

Series 1 Episode 1: Short Back and Palais Glide

S1E1e

In which our heroes rid Compo of evil spirits, lose a front door key and attempt to attend a formal dinner dance…

Andrew: I like the way that the first episode of the series proper opens with a shot of 1970s kids mucking about on a field, because even in these early episodes the theme of pensioners reverting to adolescence is quite clear. Our three main characters giggle over adult magazines, loiter at bus stops and fail to gain entry to a posh dance; it’s like an episode of The Inbetweeners with an old-age cast!

Bob: As for the plot, it’s fairly light… Blamire gets his hair cut, Compo loses his house key while being upended in the library to shake evil spirits from his head, and the trio blag their way into the dinner dance to retrieve it from Wainwright the prissy librarian – before retreating, typically, to the backroom where Sid ferries them bottled beer and chicken butties from the buffet.

But it doesn’t matter, it’s a hugely enjoyable start to the series proper. Good to see Compo flick an authentic 1970s V-sign at the end, as well. Nobody gives proper V-signs any more!

Look at the muck in 'ere!

Look at the muck in ‘ere!

Andrew: Actually, with that V-sign and Clegg’s eyebrow-raising mention of rape, it’s probably worth noting that the first three episodes of the series have awarded a ‘12’ certification from the BBFC. I’m not trying to suggest that this means that the early years of Summer Wine are a den of filth, but they are a little at odds with the cosy, family-friendly, inoffensive reputation that the series gained in its later period. Just look at that topless calendar at the back of the barber’s shop!

Bob: And more fabulous early 70s grottiness! Have a good butchers at the café in this, it’s absolutely filthy. The walls are coated in damp, grime and cobwebs. Look at the screengrab… there’s decades worth of congealed muck and chip fat on that back wall! A fantastic double act from Sid and Ivy, though, and you forget how much of an important figure Sid was in these early series… he has the one line in this episode that made me laugh out loud:

Ivy: I came here to dance, but fat chance of that with you. You don’t even know how to hold me.

Sid: (Making a strangling motion) Put your neck in there…

Mr Wainwright approves a withdrawal

Roy Clarke’s love of odd Northern dialogue shines through constantly. The devil is in the detail, and Clegg gets most of the best lines. He talks of Compo making a nest, a ‘simple construction of mattress fluff and old Sporting Chronicles’. He pricks dinner dance doorman Charlie Harris’ pomposity with the splendid riposte ‘I’ve seen you making imitation rude noises for the entertainment of the Young Conservatives’. Although, a heartbeat later, Compo’s perfectly-timed aside, ‘And your Eileen had to get married’ is laced with brilliant old-school Northern nose-tapping knowingness.

I loved Mrs Partridge’s comment about her 12-year-old son as well… ‘he’s never been strong, and everything goes to his chest’. Roy Clarke’s ear for the rhythms and absurdities of speech is just perfect. I could hear my mother saying that line, word for word, in my own grimy, early 1970s childhood.  Does anyone talk like that any more? 

12 comments

  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 4:44 pmPosted 5 years ago
    Simon S

    I love the ep title, it sums up things so neatly (unlike the following title, which is the pits).
    Never quite figured how Sid manages his successful smuggling operations – how busy is this dance, and yet no-one can find 3 sneaky intruders in another room?
    Sid gets some nice lines, as you say, but then we haven’t met Wally yet.
    I can’t be doing with Wainwright, either.

    Great site, btw, always love screen-caps 🙂

    Reply
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      August 10, 2016 10:29 pmPosted 5 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Thanks Simon!

      Reply
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    August 11, 2016 7:08 amPosted 5 years ago
    Simon S

    You might want to consider Frank Middlemass as the barber, though, as welcome a one-off turn as Bryan Pringle or others later.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Middlemass

    Lived in Hepesh’s house! Also a regular in Heartbeat, that other Yorkshire classic (!)

    Reply
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    January 26, 2017 8:41 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Tice

    I’m surprised that the first episode of the series proper barely re-introduces the characters. It’s as if they take it for granted that the viewers remember all the characters from the pilot. I mean, in the café, we only get a brief look at Sid and a glance at Ivy. It´s so quick, I think people could be forgiven if they didn´t recognize them later, at the dance, in formal dress.

    I wonder whether the next episode (where Clegg has a monologue that is basically the mission statement of the entire show, about finding ways to spend time in their retirement) was intended to air first, and someone decided to switch it?

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    January 20, 2018 4:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
    david raynor

    thats one of my fav quotes of all time but yer neck in their a statement for every husband who has ever lived brilliant.the ending well ill climb in back window like i normally do classic

    Reply
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    November 13, 2018 1:13 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sheldon

    Wish I knew their shooting locations…like at the opening when they walk down a hill lane…and where the female librarian lives.

    Reply
  • Visit site
    March 25, 2020 10:21 amPosted 1 year ago
    Mike

    Have to say guys I am absolutely loving your site! And your Youtube videos!
    I watched Summer Wine all through my childhood in the 90’s but it was only about 7 years ago that I started buying the DVD’s.
    I must say the early series were a bit of a shock. The Summer Wine that I was used to was the laterish-ish stuff. Howard & Marina, Edie’s tea gatherings, bathtubs on wheels careering down hillsides and the like. Those are what were being broadcast in the 90’s.
    I’d never seen an episode with Sid until I got the dvd’s!! The early stuff was soooo extremely different to what I was used to. But I came to love it with an absolute passion.
    I’m glad to see I’m not alone and it’s great that such a cosy online community exists. Most people my own age would look at me like an alien if I said I love LOTSW!

    Reply
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      March 25, 2020 3:19 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Andrew T. Smith (Author)

      It sounds like you’ve had a very similar experience to me, Mike! We’ve stalled a little in covering new episodes online (a stage show and a book have been fun distractions), but I’m very much looking forwards to reaching those 1990s episodes.

      Reply
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        March 25, 2020 7:34 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Mike

        Is the book related to the show?

        Reply
        • Visit site
          March 27, 2020 6:02 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Andrew T. Smith (Author)

          Absolutely. We’re in the final stages of revising and re-writing all of our thoughts on the first few series of the show, plus some added extras. All being well, we’ll find a way to make it available over summer.

          Reply
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            March 30, 2020 8:50 pmPosted 1 year ago
            Mike. C

            Bring it on!
            Something to look forward to during these depressing times!
            Can’t wait!

            Reply
  • December 2, 2020 9:28 pmPosted 10 months ago
    P.J. Gathergood

    Well, there was me expecting to get though one or two ‘Summer Wine’ episodes per week max to watch and review, and yet here I am, a day after covering the Pilot, with the first ‘proper’ episode! (Put it down to my “Watching every classic Doctor Who story in order” effort stalling, thanks to my copy of ‘The Time Meddler’ having been held up in the post for several weeks!)

    Well anyway, ‘Short Back and Palais Glide’ is indeed the first proper episode of the series aside from that Comedy Playhouse pilot. And straight off, although still very different to what the series would become, it really struck me how more rounded and familiar the characters are here. Clegg in particular is far, far more in the vein that we would come to know him; gone is that slight swagger he had in the Pilot. (He also doesn’t smoke in this one).
    Compo too, is already finding his footing, slowly evolving from the slightly-too-seedy ‘dirty old man’ of the Pilot. Whether these traits of both Clegg and Compo have gone completely, I’ll have to watch the rest of the first series and see.

    I should also mention Blamire, whom in my review of the Pilot I did brand as pompous and a snob. Well, yes he is but that doesn’t mean I dislike the character, in fact far from it. What’s more, I found that he too came across as more likable in this episode; it’s interesting how – as with all subsequent “third man” variations in the series – he is willing and eager to drop his faux superiority and join in with the childish pranks when it suits him – in this case, holding Compo upside down to see whether he is possessed by spirits or not!
    Of course, Blamire would only appear in the first two series, after-which poor health led to Michael Bates’ departure and the introduction of Foggy. With the fascination of watching the familiar characters evolve in this early series, it’s hard not to wonder how Blamire how would have evolved and developed had he been present for more years.

    Much of dialogue here is also already more ‘Summer Wine’-esque, both in terms of content and in delivery. There is still rawness to be found (Clegg’s comment on rape would never have made it into later episodes), but there are also those whimsical, silly lines that would become a ‘Summer Wine’ trait. A typical Clegg line, “It’s a nice day for not walking up Market Street”, unexpectedly made me laugh out loud, and was the first of many nice-if-daft one-liners to be found in this episode.

    The first section of the episode sees the trio visiting the barbers as Blamire gets a haircut; the barber in question, Judd, being played by Frank Middlemass – the first of a vast number of characters-played-by-decent-actors whom we’ll only ever encounter once. Much of that early-years rawness is present here, as Compo cackles over a nudie magazine like a child (there’s also a topless calendar on the wall which I understand is blurred out on many Freeview-based repeats of this episode), as well as Clegg’s aforementioned comment on rape. Compo still mildly swears a bit and gives the V-sign, though I seem to recall the latter trait lasting well into the 1980s, albeit only occsionally… will be interesting to see if this is actually correct or if my memory is playing tricks.

    As with so many early-years episodes, there’s not much of a strong overall plot, but there is considerably more of a ‘thread’ running through the episode at least compared to the Pilot. After the visit to the barbers, shenanigans in the library lead Clegg and Blamire to holding Compo upside-down to see he is possessed by evil spirits (naturally), during which he drops his house key, leading to a traipse around the area to try and find Wainwright to get him to unlock the library so that they may recover the key (for that reason, an alternate title for this episode is ‘The Lost Key’).
    We don’t get much countryside filming in this one, but there is some nice location work – including a good seemingly hand-held panning shot of the trio down some churchyard steps and along to the police station. The police station scene, by the way, is again very funny, and another strong point of the episode.

    With Compo first having his hat pulled down over his face, causing him to miss the bus; and the subsequent upside-down schoolboy silliness in the library, already we’re moving in to that familiar ‘Summer Wine’ formula that maybe we didn’t see much of in the Pilot – three aging men who, despite the mourning of times now passed, are still schoolboys at heart, and still treat life with that curious, innocent, daft schoolboy view of life. Throughout all of the cast changes and reinventions of the series, this is the one key theme that will remain intact throughout. This childlike spirit is also the reason that, when at it’s best, it was also extremely popular with children (myself included), though of course this may have been a double-edged sword, as it contributed to the gritty, rawness and reality of the early years slowly being toned down.

    Returning to the topic of developing characters, I have to say the character of Wainwright works better here than the Pilot (please note by this point, I didn’t hate the Pilot!!). There he was too in control, too domineering, which made his passionate affair with Mrs. Partridge have an awkward, slightly creepy air; mildly tweaked by this episode, still in that same tryst, he is presented more as a buffoon, an imbecile, allowing us to laugh at him more. And as such, the whole “affair which everyone knows about” theme, which – despite what the later-years nay-sayers will insist – was perfected by Howard/Marina, begins to work more successfully. The scene where the trio arrive at Mrs. Partridge’s front door, looking for Wainwright, is amusing and well-played.

    Nora doesn’t appear in this episode (she was surprisingly minimal at first) and Wally isn’t even on the radar for a while yet, but we do, finally, get more of a proper introduction to Sid and Ivy after their fleeting appearance in the Pilot. They get more screen-time … and come far more to life with it, instantly becoming very likeable characters. They even get a scene to themselves (in this early-years period where action away from the main trio is fairly uncommon), singling the pair out as two people we’ll come to see a lot of in the series. They have some extremely funny dialogue and – the key ingredient – we see that, for all of their bickering and arguing, they clearly love each other. It is also nice to see Sid display his loyalty to his friends (and eternally wishing he could join them), sneaking them food and beer late on in the episode as they hide and play cards out back of the dance-hall.
    The punchline of the overall episode, that Compo can just climb through his back window to get in, is somewhat lost as Bill Owen overdoes his “noisily chomping on a sandwich” routine as he delivers his key line (‘key line’… no pun intended), but it doesn’t matter too much, this is all very likable stuff.

    In fact, this episode is very enjoyable throughout … I realised I was sitting watching with a huge grin on my face. THIS was the proper start of ‘Summer Wine’, and it’s going to be fascinating watching the series slowly evolve – what it would gain and what it would lose. So all-in-all, yes, I really enjoyed this one, more than the interesting-but-not-hilarious Pilot. It’s no series classic, and much of the appeal just comes from seeing the seeds of things that would evolve, but I really enjoyed watching it. 8/10

    (BTW, it’s been debated whether this is the actual first filmed episode of the series proper, especially considering that there is no real re-introduction to the characters and series. I’ll see what I can deduct as I watch the rest of series one).

    Reply

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