Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 3 Episode 4: Cheering Up Gordon

Series 3 Episode 4: Cheering Up Gordon

S3E4a

In which the boarding house bathroom caper continues…

Bob: I’d forgotten this was a two-parter, and was surprised to find us still in Scarborough at the start of this episode! And – wahey – this is the first episode I can remember actually seeing on TV back in the day, because I distinctly recall an earnest school morning discussion between me and my friend Doug Simpson about the nature of the ‘popsicle’ scene…

Foggy: Lots of people swim in the North Sea.
Clegg: Only if they fall off a boat…
Compo: It’ll turn your popsicle blue!

It must have been a repeat, as I didn’t know Doug until 1983, but I clearly remember us debating whether Compo, when referring to a ‘popsicle’ was actually referring to… well… you know… he couldn’t be, could he? But now, 28 years on, I think I can safely say that – yes! He is! Filth, from Roy Clarke! Whatever next? Well… a semi-naked Brian Wilde, that’s what…

Andrew: When Foggy decides to strip off (PHWOAR) and venture into the sea, he’s really not that old-looking is he? In fact, Brian Wilde was only around fifty at the time. This struck me with Clegg in the first series as well. Summer Wine has this reputation for being ‘that show about old people’, but for the first half of its run, it isn’t anything of the sort.

Keep behind the barriers, ladies...

Keep behind the barriers, ladies…

Bob: Wilde was 48/49 during the filming of this series, so no – by today’s standards he’d barely be considered middle-aged. He’s only a decade older than me! Do we assume that the character of Foggy is meant to be considerably older than Wilde, given that all three of the main characters were clearly schoolfriends, and that Clegg and Compo are obviously closer to sixty than fifty?

Great scene anyway – there’s a studio audience member who’s absolutely howling with laughter as Foggy runs into the sea, and I love that kind of thing. It’s probably just me, but studio audience laughter these days seems much more smooth and generic than it used to be! There are lots of 70s sitcoms where you can pick out individual audience members laughing, with lots of coughing and little outbreaks of applause as well. It’s very charming.

Andrew: Absolutely. There’s one chap who yaks his way through a good chunk of Dad’s Army  and one particularly hysterical woman during Are You Being Served. And, for me, they’re pretty much  series regulars!

Bob: And in terms of dialogue, I think Roy Clarke is absolutely on fire at this stage. I laughed heartily, by myself, all the way through this episode – it’s just full of little gems. His writing for Wally Batty in particular is magnificent…

Nora: Are you going to sit there while he insults me?
Wally: No, I thought I’d go and have a look at the lifeboats.

Nora: You talk yourself into being miserable.
Wally: No I don’t, I just have to listen.

Nora: I don’t know what people must think. You’re on holiday.

Wally: Not really. If you’d come by yourself, then I’d have been on holiday. Remember that smashing fortnight when you had to go and nurse your mother?

I could listen to this all day. Joe Gladwin is just extraordinary – nobody has ever made twisted, hangdog misery so sensationally funny.

Andrew: Compo’s nephew Gordon is a pleasant addition as well. As our representative from the younger generation he’s clearly fond of his ‘Uncle Bill’ but has no interest at all in the trio’s time-wasting activities. In fact, he’s not really interested in any silliness at all.

Bob: We’ve seen a few of Compo’s family in these early episodes, haven’t we? Surprising, as he always seemed to be much more of a loner in later series. Gordon’s another lovely, world-weary character – very nicely played by Philip Jackson, who’ll forever be the Abbot Hugo in Robin Of Sherwood to me! He still pops up regularly on TV, but this is one of his earliest roles.

I have to mention that extraordinary scene on the beach as well, where Sid and Ivy – and there’s no easy way of putting this – discuss their sex life!

Ivy: You never talk to me, not even when me make love…
Sid: Not much to talk about is there, the rate we go at it? You still do it as if your mother’s watching.
Ivy: You should try and rouse me more…

Given that they spend most of the programme at violent loggerheads, you’d be forgiven for being amazed that Sid and Ivy have a sex life at all… and, in broader sitcoms, great comic play would undoubtedly be made of them being trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage. But their relationship is nothing of the sort – at the beginning of this scene, Ivy is wistfully lost in a romantic magazine, dreaming of the lithe-limbed lotharios that inhabit its pages. She absolutely wants to be loved and to be seduced, and still dreams that Sid can be that dream-like hunk in real life.

'You should try and rouse me more...'

‘You should try and rouse me more…’

I think we learn a lot about Ivy in this sequence… the fact that he falls so short of her ideals again and again is clearly the source of her constant anger and frustration at Sid. And, maybe, against the male gender as a whole? None of the idle, child-like men in Summer Wine are a match for the perfect, silky-voiced lovers in her books and magazines, and yet she can’t give up on the hopeless dream that, one day, Sid just MIGHT be. She really can’t. She has to keep dreaming… and just taking what she can from Sid in the hope that, some day, things WILL be perfect. 

An unexpected bit of sauciness at the end of the episode as well, when Compo heads out on the pull, and succeeds in bringing four women back from a local nightclub – one each for himself, Foggy, Clegg and Gordon! We only ever hear their screeching voices outside the boarding house door, but by crikey… you can just smell the gin-soaked breath and stale Benson and Hedges, and see the smudged lipstick and laddered fishnet stockings. And all in vain, because Gordon – bless him – is already enjoying a quiet game of chess with a charming redhead called Josie.

Clegg, predictably, runs upstairs. ‘Supposing they’d raped us…’ he trembles, later, reminding us that Summer Wine isn’t ready to settle into cosy teatime whimsy just yet.

Anyway, I loved these episodes. Can you tell? Absolutely my favourite of anything we’ve seen so far, and I think the series has hit an extraordinary peak at this stage. I genuinely can’t wait to carry on. 

One comment

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    September 11, 2016 2:27 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    All credit to Brian Wilde for his beach scene, I can’t imagine Michael Bates would have been up for that (let alone any other series regular). His shaking teacup when he gets back inside really convinces.

    As you say, Wally has some treasurable stuff here. I love the bit where he says what his plans are, until Nora chips in, and then he resentedly repeats what Nora wants to do.

    Philip Jackson has some good stuff as Gordon, determined to be no part of Compo’s plans when he could be fishing instead. The scene where he sneaks off when they think he’s gone along with his plan is nicely done.

    Compo’s lecherous stance about Nora is contrasted with his horror when the 4 “birds” he’s picked up are not wanted.

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