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Series 1 Episode 3: Pâté and Chips

S1E3b

In which our trio visit a Stately Home with Compo’s nephew and family…

Andrew: A very rare trip out of Holmfirth in this episode. Actually, from what I’ve read of your childhood, this is how I imagine your family outings. Just with fewer kids. Any truth to that?

Bob: Yes. I find all of these early episodes staggeringly evocative of my early childhood. The black, soot-stained buildings, the chugging, unreliable cars, and the security of family life, for better and for worse. We get to meet unspecified relatives of Compo in this episode – the charming Chip and Connie and their kids – and they reminded me so much of the young-ish relatives that surrounded my childhood in the mid 1970s. The uncles, aunts and cousins who – by the time they hit 25 – were securely married with a small army of kids and a job that they’d reasonably expect to hold down for the next forty years of their lives.

It’s gone now. Look at me, for crying out loud… I’m 37, single, childless and spend my working life effectively messing about. And most of my friends have similar lifestyles. And yet a significant chunk of me pines for Chip and Connie’s life. There’s a great moment in the pub towards the end of the episode where they exchange a loving look and a very tender peck on the lips. I’ve no idea if it was scripted, but it’s a lovely, lovely touch.

Andrew: There’s a nice little moment of melancholy in this episode that I didn’t actually spot the first time I watched it. Just before they are about to set off for the country home, Ivy is holding Connie and Chip’s baby.

Ivy: We’ve got none you know. All I can do is mother him.

(Gestures to Sid)

Ivy's left holding the baby...

Ivy’s left holding the baby…

Chip cracks a joke about letting her have one of theirs, and says how he thinks everyone should be sterilised, but as Ivy is waving goodbye to Compo’s extended family there’s a very poignant musical cue that suggests something telling about the fact that she and Sid have never had kids. It’s quite a beautiful little moment, combining fine writing, acting and composing, and it adds great depth to the supporting characters. Taking this into consideration really sheds new light on their relationship.

Bob: Oh, I didn’t spot that at all! Eagle-eyes Smith strikes again. I do love the way that we’re slowly discovering more about these characters, but at a charmingly slow pace. I think this is the first episode to suggest that Compo carries a torch for Nora Batty, isn’t it? He’s stolen her washing line to hold up his trousers, and says ‘I thought I’d wear it close to me skin’.

And I loved the scene in the café, where Compo and Chip both eat bread and dripping. Again, just gloriously evocative of its time… I don’t suppose anyone under the age of 30 has any idea about ‘dripping’ any more (do you, Drew? Come on, be honest) but I vividly remember it being a staple part of the North-Eastern diet at least up until the late 1970s. It was edible, so it got eaten. Waste not, want not. 

Andrew: Dripping’s the stuff that comes off meat when you cook it, isn’t it?

Inspecting Blamire's valuables

Inspecting His Lordship’s valuables

Bob: Well done! He said, slightly patronisingly. And another sign of the times… the ripple of excitement amongst the stately home tour party when it seems as though His Lordship is about to make an appearance! There’s hushed deference, and Clegg even frantically combs his hair. I remember the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, when every street around my house was bedecked in red, white and blue bunting, and the high street became a carnival, complete with a float procession and a fairground. Unthinkable in 2010, the world is just that tad too cynical.

Andrew: Taking of charming moments, during one scene where the trio are walking towards the café, Michael Bates checks and adjusts his watch when the church bell goes off. Now that’s either good dubbing or fine improvising, and I can’t imagine that the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop went anywhere near Last of the Summer Wine.

Bob: Sensational! I missed that as well. Such a fine actor. It’s lovely little touches like that that show you how quickly they began to inhabit these characters.

Andrew: Classic line here:  ‘I should fetch a shovel old lad, he’s crapped all over t’carpet’.

Bob: Indeed! Swiftly followed by a lovely poignant exchange in the pub, as they drunkenly recall their wartime romantic exploits.

Blamire: It soon passes, doesn’t it?

Clegg: Aye. You don’t get a lot of time given for being 19.

Roy Clarke at his best, and a finely-timed moment of melancholy. Has Blamire been perennially single? I had the impression he’d been married, but this episode suggests his entire romantic life consists of a few chaste exchanges over three decades earlier. It’s a very downbeat ending.

3 comments

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    June 3, 2016 12:20 amPosted 1 year ago
    Mike Jenkins

    The tour guide is in at least 2 other episodes Xmas specials if my memory serves me correctly

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    August 12, 2016 1:14 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    Chip-off-the-old-block indeed! Don’t think we meet any other Simmonite quite this much like Compo. Tony Haygarth would have been worth seeing again. As would Margaret Nolan of course.
    But given the future tone of the depiction of the fairer sex, from the next episode onwards, Nolan is a bit too pretty to come back again.

    Cyril’s pate sums him up as much as Compo’s door-stop sandwiches do him.

    Strolling by a river seems a lot more appealing than poking around some silly old stately home.

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    January 2, 2017 12:39 pmPosted 9 months ago
    Bob Fischer

    Yikes… I met Margaret Nolan at an event a few weeks ago, and totally forgot she’d been in this. I ended up talking to her about Crown Court instead.

    I’ll just keep dropping these top showbiz anecdotes in, should I?

    Reply

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