Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 4 Episode 3: Jubilee

Series 4 Episode 3: Jubilee

In which Compo yearns for Leningrad, and Foggy tussles with bunting…

Bob: A refreshingly untypical episode for two reasons… firstly, it’s date specific! It’s set during Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, which took place in the first week of June 1977. Despite the 1970s trappings of all the episodes we’ve seen so far, Summer Wine somehow still seems to exist in an almost timeless bubble, so it feels rather incongruous to be able to pin this episode down to an actual date. And, although it wasn’t broadcast until November 1977, the events of the Jubilee would still have been fresh in viewers’ minds. I never think of Summer Wine as being remotely topical, and I can’t think of any other episode that ties in so closely with specific historical events.

Andrew: I can only think of one. Last Pigeon and Post was broadcast at the turn of the millennium and similarly features a bunch of the characters involved in a church-run pageant/home movie. You’re right though, it is strange.

Bob: Secondly, there are LOT of politics in this episode! OK, so Blamire always had an implied air of conservatism (small ‘c’), and you’d surely have Compo down as an old-school Labour man, but – prior to this episode – this stuff has always just been inferred character background, and has never dominated the dialogue. Here, in the opening scenes, we get a full-on political argument between Foggy and Compo, after the latter reveals that he yearns to visit Leningrad!

John Horsley alert!

John Horsley alert!

‘You mean these last few weeks I’ve been passing my humbugs onto a communist?’ splutters an aghast Foggy – bearing in mind that, in 1977, Russia was still very much depicted as the Evil Empire in British popular culture. There are mentions of Arthur Scargill too, and – when Foggy accuses Compo of having ‘true blue English legs’, he receives the indignant retort ‘There is nothing about my anatomy that belongs to Maggie Thatcher’!

Thatcher was still leader of the opposition to James Callaghan’s Labour government in 1977, but had already gained her ‘Iron Lady’ nickname, bestowed upon her by the Soviet Defence Ministry after she delivered a scathing anti-Russian speech in the unlikely setting of Kensington Town Hall in January 1976. It’s intriguing to see Roy Clarke using the background of the Silver Jubilee to draw up distinct political battle lines between Foggy and Compo, and the episode as a whole feels like an acknowledgement of the idealogical schism in Britain at the time… we were a country decking out our streets in bunting, fairground rides and jam tart-laden trestle tables while simultaneously sending The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen to the top of the singles charts.

Andrew: It’s an odd coincidence that we’ve revisited this episode so close to a couple of contemporary royal events, Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton and the Queen’s upcoming Diamond Jubilee. I was quite comforted by the fact that little has changed in terms of our conflicting attitudes to royalty. It’s clear that Compo and Clegg aren’t really fussed about the Jubilee, certainly not in comparison to Foggy’s loyalty to the crown. Thousands of people lined the route for the most recent royal procession, but to me they didn’t seem as visually impressive as the student demos we saw a few months beforehand. The more things change…

Bob: And so our heroes – including a sulky, reluctant, nose-thumbing Compo who has clearly firmly sided with Johnny Rotten and the boys, are roped into the Jubilee celebrations by the local vicar… John ‘Doc Morrissey’ Horsley, taking a day off from vital Reggie Perrin duties to make a charming little cameo. And, again, I’m transported back to my 1970s childhood… my earliest summers were filled with church fetes and school jumble sales, and barely a weekend seemed to pass without a procession of ‘floats’ sliding past the windows of my Gran’s bungalow – motorized displays of national pride with local personages and their snotty-faced kids dressed up as traditional characters from the British history books, waving plastic flags on sticks as they whizzed through the estates. And, true to form, we get Sid as Jolly Jack Tar and Compo as Admiral Nelson. Does anyone bother with ‘floats’ any more? I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

Float like a butterfly...

Float like a butterfly…

Andrew: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a float outside of Disneyland, and fetes are definitely a dying art. I popped down to the Mayday funfair at our local community farm, which used to be a big event when I was younger, with bouncy castles, falconry displays, arts and crafts, a car boot sale, army vehicles, and kids dressing up in firemens’ outfits. This year, the field in which the fair took place was half empty. The bouncy castles were still there, but the ‘Hook-a-Duck’ had been usurped by a ‘Catch-a-Pokemon’ stand and the arts and crafts seemed to be represented by one stall with a computer-printed banner offering ‘Dog Confectionary.’ I suppose it’s a shame, but I also suppose it’s also just one of those things.

Bob: In the midst of the searing political debate, there’s a really nice moment of tenderness between Sid and Ivy, as the latter reminisces about their youthful dancing exploits. ‘You used to do the most lovely Fallita…’ she muses, and you can absolutely see the love in her eyes. As we discussed during the Boarding House episodes of the previous series, Ivy – despite everything – still adores Sid, and won’t stop believing that – someday – he’ll be the gallant, square-jawed lothario that she breathlessly reads about in her womens’ magazines. And Sid has, clearly, sometimes come close enough to that ideal for Ivy to keep the faith. Just as with Nora and Compo’s tender moments in the previous episode, there’s enough here in this relationship to make you appreciate why they’re still together.

Andrew: At the moment, I’d have to say they’re my favorite characters. Over the past couple of series they appear to have really surprised Roy Clarke. They’re not at the forefront of the episodes, but he clearly enjoys writing for the duo, and keeps finding these little moments for them. I can’t help but think of the spin-off that never was, with Sid and Ivy travelling the Dales in their mobile chip van!

Bob: Two classic Roy Clarke one-liners in this episode as well…

Ivy: When are you going to look at me sink?
Sid: Any time you can arrange to sink, I’ll gladly have a look.

Compo: I wonder what they’ll put on my gravestone?
Foggy: Something very heavy, I hope.

Both of these made me laugh out loud, in bed, by myself. Thanks, Roy. 

One comment

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    September 17, 2016 3:51 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    The political stuff makes a rather refreshing change – and neither Foggy nor Compo is going to take it to a more serious state than their usual banter.

    If anyone has to crossover from Reggie Perrin, it might as well be John Horsley. He’s creepily convincing as a bad-tempered bossy vicar (I love the scene where our heroes are awaiting his arrival, from Compo parodying the vicar’s wife, to the shocking visitation of a knight).

    There’s something off about dressing Compo as Nelson, it again makes clear he’s first among equals.

    A pity there was no ‘Jubilee II’ in 2002, though…

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