Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 1 Episode 2: Inventor of the Forty Foot Ferret

Series 1 Episode 2: Inventor of the Forty Foot Ferret

S1E2b

In which Compo is persuaded to actually visit church…

Andrew: Before we begin properly I’d just like to note the title of this episode. I love ferrets and I think Compo is partly to blame. As a kid, his descriptions of the slinky little angels made them seem so exciting… you could stick them down your trousers!

Bob: You’re a freak, Smith.

Andrew: This episode is all about class and religion, really. You have Blamire as  the bossy, middle class church-goer, Compo as the scruffy, sub-working class atheist and Clegg as… well, just Clegg really. He gets my favorite lines of the episode; ‘Who needs eternity? Suppose you’re waiting for a bus’. Again, this is a series that has come to be identified with the likes of Songs of Praise, but in these early episodes Clarke is questioning whether organised religion has any point at all!

A theological debate in action

A theological debate in action

Bob: I think the depiction of faith in this episode actually speaks volumes about early 1970s society. Blamire, every inch the conservative Christian, is never the butt of the joke… instead, it’s Compo – gauchely suspicious of the church and its conventions – that we’re encouraged to laugh at. Christian faith in the early 1970s was still a cornerstone of British life, and it’s treated seriously here.

For an extra bit of poignancy… the church they visit is clearly St John’s in Holmfirth, where Bill Owen is now buried. They walk very close to his current resting place in one scene.

Andrew: This isn’t angry, boundary-breaking satire, though. The characters take the mickey out of each other, but in the end they’ve all ended up in the same predicament and – despite what they say or believe – they’re just mates. If anything Clarke, seems to be encouraging acceptance and tolerance. Sort of progressive for its time, really.

On the other hand, there is a very 1970s rape joke and Clegg says the word ‘poof’! In the light of this, I take back everything I said about the use of the word ‘orgasm’ earlier in the series. The word ‘poof’ is the one that feels out of place now.

Bob: Both of those lines gave me a jolt as well! Clegg comments that Blamire’s mother ‘brought up a little poof’, and Compo tales the wartime tale of ‘Hilda Mason and those four Yanks… everybody knew it were rape, but she were never prosecuted’. Did you spot the delightfully incongruous swearing in the café as well? Compo tells Sid that his wife left him for a ‘pissing Pole’.

Abandoned Fa

Barnstorming!

All just more examples of the grittiness that gradually dissipated as the series continued, I guess. In that context, the portrayal of Mr Wainwright, the librarian, and his married fancy lady is interesting. They’re clearly the prototype for Howard and Marina, and yet while that latter relationship feels like a bit of playground kiss-chase (they never seem to get further than a chaste cuddle… actually, do they ever even kiss?) the extra-marital affair here is much more lusty, and we’re clearly led to believe there’s been some distinctly heavy petting going on behind that mahogany counter.

I love the location work in this episode, too. We get out into the countryside, but it’s WINTER – not something we see a lot of in latter-day Summer Wine. It’s bleak and windy and desolate, and we spend a lot of time in a delightfully derelict and ramshackle old mill. Was this the workplace that Compo spent much of his life avoiding? I’d like to think so.

And yegods… Jane Freeman’s legs in the cycling scene at the end are truly a sight for sore eyes.

2 comments

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    August 11, 2016 1:12 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    The “poof” school of comedy here is arguably the sign of the truest comparison with Top Gear; but then Clarkson is from Doncaster 🙁

    “This episode is all about class and religion, really” – yes, but not ferrets! One of the most desperate titles in the whole series.

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      June 21, 2017 2:06 pmPosted 4 months ago
      Simon S

      I was quite wrong there, the apparently throwaway line in the café follows the previous scene where they’re discussing fur trapping in Canada. My bad.

      I note the article Sid is reading when they arrive is unfortunately folded so we only see the lower half, but which still clearly reads “WIFE? SHE’S YOURS” :p

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