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Series 1 Episode 6: Hail Smiling Morn Or Thereabouts

S1E6b

In which Blamire whips out his brownie and asks Compo for a better exposure…

Andrew: I had no idea that Clegg had two houses during the course of the series. This first one doesn’t seem as fitting somehow. That sofa is far too 1970s for a start.

Bob: You’re right, but… it’s not just Clegg’s house, is it? It’s his marital home. We’re not sure how long it’s been since his wife died, but it’s clearly still HER house… look at the patterned wallpaper, the plush sofa, the ornaments and soft furnishings. Clegg’s later house is a single man’s home, but this one has seen a woman’s touch. It’s nicely done.

Blink and you'll miss her... the late Mrs Clegg!

Blink and you’ll miss her… the late Mrs Clegg!

Andrew: During this episode, I think we get our one and only look at Mrs. Clegg. Compo says, ‘She were always ugly, then?’ but – to be fair to the woman – the fleeting glimpse we get of her wedding picture reveals a slim and fairly attractive bride. Perhaps she was just ugly on the inside? But just check out the lingering look Clegg gives her photograph at the end of that scene. Despite all of his bravado, he does seem to miss her, or at least to have admired her.

Bob: I love Clegg’s lengthy anecdote about his and his wife’s aborted camping expedition, where she wept and ‘pined for her draining board’. Lovely writing again, and superbly played by Peter Sallis. And yes… the passing look that he gives the photo is very touching. You could blink and you’d miss it, but the love and the loss is all there in a brief, beautiful moment. I wonder if that second of silence was scripted, or if it’s pure Peter Sallis? A gorgeous character moment.

Straight from Blamire’s Box Brownie

Andrew: I’d love to get hold of some of the photographs that Blamire takes during the course of this episode. Moreso than the staged publicity shots, they really seem to capture the playfulness of our trio when they start mucking about. It would seem unlikely, but it would be nice to think that those negatives are still locked up in a BBC archive somewhere.

Bob: That’s a fab little sequence. I think the gentle pastimes that they pursue in these early episodes are more effective and believable than the stunts that came in later years. There’s actually a scene in the Spring Fever episode, two weeks earlier, where they’re idly drifting down the river on a raft made from planks and empty barrels. And it’s just casually dropped into the episode as an incidental feature… a bit of background to the REALLY important stuff – the dialogue. Same with the photography here… it’s very nicely done.

Blamire: She married a University lecturer!

Clegg: Well don’t hold that against her, anybody can make a mistake.

Andrew: That’s my day job! I suppose I should be offended by Clegg’s comment, but to be honest I can sort of see his point…

Bob: Yeah, but university lecturers were GENUINELY weird in the early 1970s. Most people would never have actually seen one outside of the Open University on BBC2. The nearest things to universities anywhere near me in the 1970s were Teesside Polytechnic and Cleveland Art College, and even those were seen as dangerously subversive refuges for hippies, communists and other similar beardy-weirdy types. Breeding grounds for potential Mr Wainwrights! It was only in the 1990s that ‘going to uni’ became the almost universal experience that it is now.

Camping it up!

Camping it up!

Some more lovely long-forgotten vocabulary in this episode… Compo says ‘Speak up, we can’t hear you in the Fourpennies’ to an arguing Sid and Ivy – presumably a reference to the cheap seats at a theatre? And Ivy delivers a classic put-down to Sid – ‘Three pints of ale, and you think you’re Jack Benny’. I wonder how archaic that sounded in 1973? The height of Benny’s popularity had arguably been thirty years earlier, and yet… it’s same as making reference now to someone who was popular in 1981. Kenny Everett, or Russ Abbott, maybe? Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.

Andrew: Are there many abandoned farm buildings scattered along the countryside these days, or have they all been converted into stylish apartments and getaway cottages by the team from Grand Designs?

Bob: No, they’re out there. I walk a lot on the North Yorkshire Moors, and there are still some gloriously rugged and desolate little places. Fancy watching Series 2 in one of them? I’ll bring my laptop…

 

4 comments

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    May 12, 2016 9:16 amPosted 1 year ago
    Mike Jenkins

    I’m sure you see his wife’s headstone in the pilot episode and that she hasn’t been dead very long,hence the woman’s touch and the longing look

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    May 13, 2016 11:01 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Bob Fischer

    Hi Mike, there’s a little discussion about it on our review of the pilot episode… a couple of people are convinced that date on the headstone is 1971, so you could be right!

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    May 19, 2016 11:23 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Mike Jenkins

    Yes I’ve just found a video online and it is 1971,great memories of this show watching it with my gran back in the original foggy episodes

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    August 29, 2016 1:56 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    I’m bemused about the scene with Blamire’s pictures – presumably they were staged and then synchronised later – can’t credit that we see the real pictures, they look sharper than the best of digital.

    It’s perhaps fitting that the supposed plot of snapping the sunrise gives way to the silliness of sleeping indoors/outdoors.

    Despite Clegg’s “God rest the silly bitch”, his whole wistful reminiscence shows us the most cerebral romantic of the three.

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