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Getting Sam Home

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In which Compo, Clegg and Foggy ain’t got no body…

Andrew: Let’s be upfront about this. We’ve both seen Getting Sam Home before and we both think it contains some of the best material Roy Clarke has ever written, that Alan JW Bell has ever directed, and that any of the actors have ever performed. This is going to be less of a review and more of a love letter.

Bob: Don’t give things away this early, we want to build up an air of tension! But yeah, you’re right… and is this the most wistful start ever to a British comedy film? The church bells chime, a melancholy flute solo rises into the autumn sky, and craggy-faced Wally Batty lets loose a flapping pigeon to the heavens. It’s like he’s sending a message to the world; from Holmfirth… from Summer Wine country. And you know what? It feels like a message from my younger self to the modern-day me, as well. Because there aren’t many pieces of TV from my childhood that have meant more to me than Getting Sam Home. I was eleven years old when this first aired, and it made a lifelong and profound impression on me. It’s like a platonic ideal of Summer Wine for me; the very essence of the show. And it’s also an encapsulation of the end of my childhood… those people; those places, the feeling of an innocent era slowly drifting away. There are hardly any TV shows that have to power to transport me in this way.

The rural primary school with the cows grazing outside; the kids being called in from the playground; the first bars of the opening theme, and blimey… it’s got lyrics now. Beautiful, heartfelt lyrics. Oh gawd, we’re barely into the title sequence and I’m a mess already. Honestly, I’ve got tingles everywhere. I’m eleven years old again, and I want it all back.

Andrew: Obviously I had a very good excuse for not seeing this when it originally went out, but it does hold a similarly nostalgic pleasure for me. I grew up with the series during the second Foggy era of the 1990s, but at some point I must have caught a repeat of this film because for years I had odd memories of the chip van that features in it. Not only that, but I distinctly recalled the fact that there was no laugh track and that it looked somehow different from the shows I was used to. It wasn’t until the DVDs came along that I finally got to experience it all over again.

Bob: Repeated on the 8th May 1994, according to BBC Genome! You were seven years old. I blame the parents.

The reason David Walliams is David Walliams?

Fairburn gets his divvy…

There’s a perfect, unbelievably economic bit of character work here in these opening scenes. Clegg is unfavourably comparing the weather to the same time last year, Foggy contrasts it with his experiences in the Far East, and Compo lusts after the girl in the dry cleaners who strips naked beneath her uniform whenever the sun shines. And there you go – your three main characters in a nutshell.

Andrew: I absolutely agree with you that this perfectly sets up our main characters, but that’s actually rather strange when you think about it. This film was based upon Roy Clarke’s novel – simply titled Last of the Summer Wine – and in that book the three protagonists are Clegg, Compo… and Blamire. It’s strange to consider that everything Foggy says or does in this film actually originates in some way with Blamire. Clarke does a bang-up job of adapting his own work, mind you. You’d never guess this wasn’t created for the screen unless somebody told you.

Bob: And yes, no laugh track! A bold but very wise move, I think… this isn’t a studio sitcom any more, it’s a proper film. It has elegance, grace and a lavish sense of style. Huge credit to Alan JW Bell for pulling this off.

Andrew: Although the film was really his pet project, Bell was only awarded the job of directing after putting in a lower quote than Sydney Lotterby, so I can’t begin to imagine the uphill battle he must have faced to create such a polished-looking film as this. It’s also worth pointing out that this is starting to look much more like Last of the Summer Wine as I remember it from my childhood. As much as I appreciate the unique mix of videotape and film inserts in classic British television, by the time I was watching the show in the early to mid 1990s, it had switched entirely to film production.

Bob: How many times do our trio inadvertently stumble across illicit courting couples in some remote area of the countryside? This time it’s Fairburn, the Co-Op tailor, sneakily ‘getting his divvy’ with ‘her from the bacon counter’. And Fairburn is playing by David Williams, who I suspect might be the reason that David Walliams is David Walliams!

Andrew: It does seem a tad farcical that our trio would keep stumbling across these secret trysts in the countryside, but I’ve also encountered a fair few couples of an evening who were doing far more than courting!

Bob: They have sexual intercouse in Gateshead these days? The place is coming on leaps and bounds. This is a brilliant introduction for Lynda Baron, as the voluptuous Lily Bless ‘Er… and we’re instantly shown what a different proposition she is to the rest of the women in Summer Wine country. ‘I like your knickers’ leers Compo, grimacing through the skimpy underwear on the line. ‘Do you, love?’ beams Lily, a clear battle-line being drawn between her warm brand of sauciness, and the thunderous response that the same compliment would have elicited from Nora or Ivy. Some cracking curtain-twitching in the street, too! My mum still does this. She’s unbelievable. If a car passes within fifty yards of the house, she’s at the front window with more unseemly haste than you’d expect from a woman who’s had two hip replacements. ‘Oooh, it’s Gary coming back early,’ she’ll muse. ‘Sandra must be on days this week…’ I have no idea who any of these people are.

Drew's dad's curtains are twitching already...

Drew’s dad’s curtains are twitching already…

Andrew: My dad’s the curtain twitcher in our family, although he manages to sense everything from the comfort of the sofa. Honestly, I think he must have Sonar or something. He can’t hear us if we try to ask him what he wants for his tea, but he’s straight on the case if there’s a neighbour outside parking a car where they shouldn’t be. It’s an art.

Bob: I was fascinated by the name ‘Lily Bless ‘Er’ as a kid, it just seemed so outlandish to me. Does it imply that Lily is viewed with a degree of sympathy by many of the people in town? For all her flouncy sex appeal, she’s quite a sad figure… a lonely, middle-aged woman grasping for fleeting encounters with married man. A proto-Marina, I guess, in many ways? Her front room just reeks of solitary desperation, too. The ticking clock, hammering away the days. And Compo is offered a can of Tetley’s bitter from the fridge. How long do you think that’s been in there, waiting for the right gentleman caller to pass by? I bet it’s as flat as a fart.

Andrew: There’s a touch of Marina about her, perhaps, but the key difference between the characters is that Lily Bless ‘Er’ is actually getting some from time to time. Given that, at this point in its run, the series was transforming into a much more family friendly show, its quite striking to me how adult this film is. Later in the run, much will be made of how chaste and innocent Howard and Marina’s affair is – but I think I prefer the honesty on display here. Sam and Lily aren’t usually getting together for a kiss and a cuddle!

Bob: And so we discover that Lily is desperate to get messages through to the miserably married Sam, currently languishing in hospital with an unspecified malady, and smuggling out hilariously garbled messages to the lady of his dreams. ‘There’s a bloke here who knows you from the Three Horseshoes with a hernia called Trevor’, she reads out loud, with deadpan concern. I laughed out loud.

And Sam, in hospital, really does look dreadfully ill! I hope that’s all make-up. Played with more wistful melancholy by Peter Russell, who was actually a very respected stage comedian… as well as playing Eldred in the 1965 Doctor Who story The Time Meddler! (I know, I know…) His thoughtful voiceover, envying the happy lives of his fellow patients while his stony wife Sybil knits furiously, is a lovely touch. ‘She’s 45, and badly dressed… and lovely’ he muses, eyeing up Mr Cosgrave’s wife with a resigned sigh. How long has it been since this poor old sod had any love in his marriage whatsoever? Nobody weaves lonely resignation into a comedy script with more elegance than Roy Clarke. Nobody.

Andrew: I think that inner monologue is one of the few signs we get that this film has been adapted from a novel. It’s not a technique Clarke uses much in Summer Wine. In fact, I can’t think of a nother example off-hand. But in order for us to get to know and care about Sam in the limited time we’re going to spend with him, making use of this device makes perfect sense.

Bob: It works, and it’s a nice luxury to play with when you’re not worrying about the live rapport with a studio audience.

Sam is taken home via the only transport that our trio can muster… Sid’s ramshackle, semi-derelict fish and chip van. A little word for John Comer here, as it’s an incredibly sad story… poor John had lost his voice for this recording, and so is dubbed throughout the entire episode by fellow Yorkshire actor Tony Melody who, you have to say, did a magnificent job. I was a seasoned Summer Wine watcher by the time this was first broadcast, and I didn’t notice it at all. And I was rather taken aback years later, when I first read about it, as I think I’d even seen it on DVD by that stage, and still not noticed! With the benefit of hindsight and experience… yes, you can tell it’s not John Comer, but it doesn’t detract at all. And, tragically, what nobody realised at this stage was that John had throat cancer, and would die only a few short months after filming was completed.

Andrew: It was an incredibly unfortunate situation, to put it mildly, but Tony Melody does indeed do a fantastic job. I guess the dubbing works so well because none of Comer’s dialogue made it into the film, so it’s not a case of swithching back and forth between a sound-alike and the real thing. It might also have helped that this film stands on its own. If Tony Melody had had to step in during the middle of a series, it probably would have been a lot more obvious.

Bob: Another lovely scene here, with Sam on the moors, picking out the spot where he’d like his ashes scattered. It’s beautifully poignant. ‘I can see Ducketts Foundary, and Mottishaw’s Bakery… I shall know where I am’. You wonder how many of those traditional landmarks would have lasted much longer beneath the relentless march of progress… or had they gone already, even in 1983? Is Sam gazing into his own past here? Either way, a huge word of praise to Ronnie Hazlehurst, who scores this scene beautifully. Another gorgeous moment of melancholy.

Andrew:  On a good day, my life is scored by Ronnie Hazlehurst. By the way, I’m assuming you want to be scattered under the table closest to the loo in Sid’s Café? I’m not sure what Laura will make of that plan, but I’ll do me best.

'Ravenous sexual activity'

‘Ravenous sexual activity’

Bob: Just sprinkle me on a doughnut. And so we get to the crux of the episode… Sam, now imprisoned in his home (and shed) by the fearsome Sybil, wants our trio to break him out for a night of passion with Lily Bless ‘Er! I love Foggy’s self-conscious ‘not acting suspiciously’ as they creep towards the house. And ‘Mamsy and Dadsy’ in the house next door, with that bloody poodle! Yegods, Roy Clarke’s obsession with sterile, loveless marriages knows no bounds. But he writes them brilliantly.

We see frustratingly little of Nora and Wally in this episode, but this tiny cutaway to Wally, drunkenly ascending the steps to his house, is a perfect little showcase for a bit of vintage Joe Gladwin. Such great physical comedy! We don’t see a lot of out-and-out drunkenness in Last of the Summer Wine, do we? Just lots of women complaining about it.  It’s surprising that we’ve seen so little of Nora in this episode, given that Kathy Staff was such a famous and integral part of the show by this stage. But I guess the original 1974 novel must have been written concurrently with the first series… before Nora really became the sensation that she did!

Andrew: Unless, of course, you buy the reissue of the book that was published to coincide with this television adaptation. It seems pretty much everything remains the same as the first edition, except for the fact that the book replaces every mention of the name ‘Blamire’ with the name ‘Foggy’. Of course, this means that Foggy is weirdly out of sorts throughout. The cheeky beggars! Actually, it’s a bit annoying this buggered-about with version is now much easier to find than the original. If you can, folks, pick up the Coronet Books paperback edition!

Bob: Sam is dead! In the arms of Lily Bless ‘Er! While our trio idle away their time in her tick-tocking living room, clad in her frilly cardies after a soaking from the rain. ‘He only wanted a cuddle…’ weeps Lily, which gives the whole thing even more poignancy. Was Sam in the throes of some wild, illicit passion? No… he just wanted a flicker of comfort, lying chastely in his buttoned-up pyjamas with a final smile of affection upon his face.

Andrew: At this juncture can I just point out that we are looking at a corpse? Once again – this is not a family film!

Bob: We’re heading into quite traditional farce territory though, as our trio have to beg to borrow Sid’s van (which involves tapping on Sid and Ivy’s bedroom window… is this the first and only time we actually see them in bed together? At least they still snuggle up of an evening – unlike virtually every other married couple we see in this series!) and smuggle Sam back into his own marital home.

A nice bit of vintage Roy Clarke during this steamy bedroom scene, too…

Ivy: It could be anybody! Some lunatic desperate for a woman.

Sid: Well there you are, you see… it’s for you.

Andrew: Out of all of the characters in the series, Sid and Ivy are the only ones whose bedroom I expect to be a secret hive of ravenous sexual activity. There is far too much passion in their ranting and raving for them not to be absolutely gagging for one another… What, too much?

Bob: Not enough! Keep going! You could be tbe Jilly Cooper of the Blogsphere. You can have my arse, in jodhpurs, on the cover of your first novel.

So Sam is safely home, and the ensuing daytime scene outside our trio’s old primary school is – I think – not just one of the finest scenes in Summer Wine’s history, but in British comedy as a whole. With another one of their childhood friends having passed on, Compo finds himself discussing his own early encounters with death. ‘The morning that little yellowhammer flew straight into the glass,’ he muses, ‘I picked it up. And it had a drop of blood on its beak. One drop. Identical same colour as ours’.

And Clegg joins in, wistfully reminiscing about former classmates who ‘ran smack into World War Two’. ‘Including Little Tommy Naylor, lying in a field in Africa. Blood on his beak. Identical same colour as ours’.

RIP Little Tommy Naylor...

RIP Little Tommy Naylor…

It’s everything to me, this scene. How could a young boy, idling away his childhood in such idyllic surroundings as this, find himself – just a few short years later – dying so brutally, so far away? Tommy Naylor must have once imagined Clegg’s life ahead of him, and relished it. The quiet contemplation, the dull but secure warmth of marriage and work and, ultimately, old age. And yet all the while, the clouds were gathering over Europe. Who would live, and who would die? It was horribly, cruelly random. And Clegg knows that. Tommy Naylor’s blood was the same colour as his, and it could so easily have been Norman Clegg, aged 18 or 21 or 25 or whatever, dying in a field in Africa and thinking one last time of his childhood in this playground. Of his mother, of his friends, of the missing years he’d never grow to know.

No other sitcom would attempt this. None. It’s magnificent, and real, and can only be borne of Roy Clarke’s own feelings.

Andrew: Agreed on all counts. In fact, if I was to pick one scene to represent the best of Last of the Summer Wine as I see it, it would probably be this one. It’s shot in beautifully grim surroundings on lovely 16mm film stock, features an absolutely typical meditation upon the nature of life and death, and ends with a pratfall ­– what more could I ask?

Bob: And then, just to ram the point home, we see Foggy jostled down the steps outside the café by a crowd of cheering 1980s schoolkids! And the wheel has come full circle. He was them, just a few blinks in a short lifetime ago. But time is cruel, and now he’s just an old man in the crowd. Oh, this is glorious and profound.

And Sam’s relatives arguing over his possessions, and lumping his gear out of the shed before the funeral has even taken place, is fabulously real! And curiously Northern, I reckon? Oh, the free-for-all that takes place after a death in the family is something I’ve come to find incredibly blackly funny. And my name is ON that hostess trolley. I mean it.

Andrew: So you’re saying I’d better get round to your gaff sharpish if I want to get my hands on your collection of Peanuts books? Noted.

Bob: Into the Shoulder of Mutton pub! For any of our readers who have never visited Holmfirth, I recommend you do… and you’ll be staggered at how delightfully tiny the place really is, and how close together all of these seemingly disparate locations actually are. The Shoulder of Mutton is thirty seconds walk around the back of Sid’s Café, and the yard where Sid kept his ramshackle van is another few yards around the corner from there. But I LOVE this pub scene! The sultry, brassy pub singer, pointing and pouting like a Yorkshire Shirley Bassey. And again, this has a lovely, filmic quality… it’s clearly shot inside the actual pub itself.

Andrew: We’ve actually visited this pub a couple of times now on our jaunts to Holmfirth and I must confess to a slight feeling of disappointment every time we cross the threshold. Not that it isn’t a nice pub ­– it is – but it isn’t the bustling social gathering place that was captured in this film. Saying that, I’d probably flee the pub as featured in the film in search of a tobacco-free breath of fresh air.

Bob: And doesn’t Brian Wilde make for a fabulous comedy drunk? I’m not much of a boozer these days, but I used to love sitting at a pub table that was covered in empty glasses. It gave me such a heartfelt feeling of achievement.

It's kicking off in the Shoulder of Mutton!

It’s kicking off in the Shoulder of Mutton!

Andrew: Brian Wilde makes for a fantastic everything.

Bob: When I watched this episode on DVD this time around, for the first time ever I started to think ‘Oooh… it’s a bit padded here, isn’t it?’ The fact that Lily decides that Sam – now deceased – needs rescuing from Sybil’s clutches AGAIN (and taking back again afterwards) felt like one of those episodes of Doctor Who that relies on our heroes being captured, escaping, recaptured and escaping again for a fake sense of tension and drama. But I’m wrong! Totally wrong! The two halves of this film are like a mirror image of each other; with death the dividing line between. So in the first half, the living Sam is smuggled from home, taken to Lily Bless Er, and smuggled back again. In the second half, the same thing happens to his dead body. Is there a message here? I’m going to be pretentious and suggest this: that death is no obstacle to our feelings for each other. Lily adores Sam; and wants his body to be as rested and comfortable in her house in death as much as it was when he was alive. Sybil can’t stand him; and kept him exiled to the shed both before and after he’d died. And on both occasions, he provides equal quantities of fun, terror and inconvenience to our heroic trio. There you go… I should be running a media studies course. It’s the early mornings that would do for me, though.

Andrew: I think you’re on the money there, but I should point out that ANY film would start to feel padded if watched the same number of times that you have seen Getting Sam Home.

Bob: I love these scenes on the moors, with Sam’s body hidden in the van as Sid fobs off a passing police car. And it’s Ken Kitson playing the copper! Brilliant. I was watching an old Children’s Film Foundation movie recently (Terry On The Fence, 1985, for those that want to check) and he plays an amiable policeman in that as well. Did Roy Clarke write him into The Trials of PC Penrose, by any chance? I’m off to check…

Andrew: Oh God, don’t go! I don’t have your talent for filling space! What am I supposed to talk about? I like Getting Sam Home… I really like Getting Sam Home… that’s it; I’m out. Please come back!

Bob: Ken Kitson was NOT in The Trails of PC Penrose. At ease, everybody.

Andrew: Phew.

Bob: The scenes with the bickering Mamsy and Dadsy, Sam and Sybil’s neighbours, are some of the funniest in the film. Accused of not checking whether their pampered poodle has ‘done his business’, Dadsy is indignant. ‘What am I supposed to do, dabble for it with me fingers?’ There’s a brilliant comedy faint from Dadsy too, as Foggy – ‘sitting in’ as a substitute in Sam’s coffin – rises up in the shed. I laughed like a drain. And probably smelt like one as well.

Sitcom Rule No 47: Any kind of ‘weird business’ conducted in a darkened suburban street, MUST take place outside a house in which the residents are nervously watching a horror film on TV. Which we NEVER see… we only hear the chilling music and the bloodcurdling screams. Them’s the rules!

Andrew: Except – and I’m sorry to make you question your entire belief system here – we DO see one shot of the film Dadsy is watching! Here’s a challenge for our all-knowing readers ­– what is the name of the film?

Bob: There’s something lovely and reassuring about seeing a flickering TV in a front room from a darkened street, though. As I kid I was scared of EVERYTHING, and all manner of imaginary ghosts and vampires followed me on my travels around Teesside. But a glimpse of normality like that, just a flash of The Generation Game through a gap in the curtains, would swiftly drag me back into the world of the ordinary.

Oooh, do you want a bit of controversy here?

Andrew: Always…

Bob: I distinctly remember sitting in my Gran’s front room, possibly the day before this was broadcast, reading an article in the Daily Mirror stating that Getting Sam Home was set to cause a rumpus due to the inclusion of an unprecedented four-letter word, claiming the existence of a scene in which Sid refers to a customer as ‘f*** face’! That’s what it said, ‘f*** face!’ Now, naturally you can imagine what I assumed the phrase was going to be, and I was genuinely mortified by this. With my friends, I swore like a navvy, but I was incredibly embarrassed by any of that business actually filtering through to my parents, and the thought of hearing such a word IN THEIR COMPANY filled me with horror.

So I think I genuinely sat through Getting Sam Home with a sense of uneasy dread bubbling away throughout. And, of course, it’s ‘fart face’! ‘Listen, fart face!’ Which didn’t bother me at all. The Daily Mirror, eh? F***ing t***s!

Boys Keep Swinging…

Andrew: Not to ask too much of our readers, but surely someone out there must be able to track this article down?

Bob: God, this is macabre stuff, isn’t it? Sid is serving chips on a dark, windswept moor to drunken idiots as the stiff arm of his dead friend swings from the parapet above the bubbling chip pans. Has the show ever been quite THIS dark before?

Andrew: Absolutely not, and I don’t think it ever will be again. This has got to be down to the fact the film started life as a novel, hasn’t it? Freed from the shackles of broadcast restrictions, Clarke really went all out!

Bob: The policeman to Mamsy, distraught over the disappearance of her fainting husband… ‘They’re not usually dead, Madam… they’ve usually just run off with some other woman’. Magnificent!

And so, as the dawn begins to rise and the church bells chime, Sid’s van has broken down and there’s seemingly no chance of getting Sam’s body back to Sybil in time for the funeral. And – it seems – the tailors dummy blackmailed from Mr Fairburn will be sent for cremation instead. Clegg’s offer to confess all to Sybil is very noble, but VERY unlike him! But I like Foggy and Compo’s ‘all in this together’ attitude. When there’s genuine trouble, they do stick together like the best of friends. It’s heartwarming.

Andrew: The whole film is about friendship and loyalty as much as it’s about mortality. Sam isn’t a character we’ve seen before and certainly isn’t part of the main trio, but he’s their mate and that’s enough to ensure they go absurd lengths to carry out his final wishes. There’s also the school days connection made during the opening credits, and that beautiful speech from Clegg that we mentioned earlier. These are blokes who have known each other for decades – of course they’re going to stick together. It’s lovely.

Bob: Are coffins left open any more? Thankfully I don’t think they are, so we’re spared exchanges like ‘Who coloured that? Get the lid on, quick!’ Sybil was ahead of the game with the smoking ban, as well. All the seasoned nicotine chuffers are exiled to join Sam’s coffin in the shed, so it’s no wonder he’s gone a funny colour.

Andrew: I knew somebody whose father died a couple of years ago. Apparently when all the family gathered together at home to prepare themselves for the funeral, it was just expected that the body should be there too. This really rather freaked out this person’s partner, who wasn’t expecting to be chatting, eating and drinking next to a dead person for the better part of a week. It’s really not something we should be made uncomfortable by, but I think most of us are. I suspect it’s a cultural shift. As the population has gone up and up, death has, by necessity, come to be treated in a much more conveyer-belt fashion. You’re bagged, tagged, prepped and delivered to the crematorium with great efficiency these days. We simply don’t have to deal with the dead in the same way that we used to, unless for whatever cultural reason we choose to. A generation who went through World War Two, however, are much more used to and practical about the idea.

Bob: Good grief, really? I’m with your friend’s partner. I’d never sleep! I have a ventriloquists dummy in the spare room wardrobe, and even that keeps me awake at night.

Coconut Mushrooms not pictured

More glorious dialogue as our trio, convinced that a shop window dummy is about to be cremated, forlornly make their way to the church. ‘Would anyone like a coconut mushroom?’ inquires Cousin Olive, cheerful to the last. Clegg is gazing wistfully out of the window. ‘From the standpoint of heaven, how magical must Mottishaw’s Bakery be?’ he muses, in melancholy voiceover. And, again, I like to imagine that Mottishaw’s Bakery has long since been demolished, and that Sam is gazing from some celestial standpoint into the long-lost childhood that all these characters constantly yearn for.

And, when it comes down to it, Ivy has bailed them out. The dummy is in the chip van, Sam is in his coffin, and she kept it to herself as ‘I thought it might do you all good to sweat a little bit’. And, as The Lord Is My Shepherd plays in the church, a lonely Lily Bless ‘Er is taken into the funeral car by a relenting, sympathetic Sybil. It’s a really touching end to an incredibly accomplished film.

Andrew: A touching end, and a very important one in terms of not misrepresenting Clarke’s view of women! He may create truly terrifying female characters, who keep a like to keep a tight leash on their husbands, but they are absolutely the ones who keep the world he has created from falling apart. It’s a balance between masculinity and femininity, as much as it is between childishness and dour maturity.

Bob: What can I say about Getting Sam Home? It was one of my favourite pieces of TV when I was eleven years old, and nothing in the last thirty years has changed my opinion one jot. It’s full of poignancy and melancholy, shot through with deliciously black humour, and has some of the show’s funniest-ever lines and performances. And, on top of that, it’s beautifully directed, with a real flair for both sweeping countryside and all of those intimate little scenes in pubs and cafes and tiny front rooms. This isn’t a TV special… it’s a film. And it’s one of the best British comedy films of all time.

Andrew: It’s such an unassuming little film, but it really does deserve classic status. Sadly, I think the fact it was made for television robs it of the prestige it deserves. Had it been released to cinemas, I think it could have single-handedly done away with that silly myth about television programmes not working on the big screen. They do when they’re done as well as this!

In a fair world, Getting Sam Home would have been restored in HD from the film rushes and would be transmitted on BBC1 on bank holiday weekends instead of endless repeats of Carry On films. Well a chap can dream, can’t he?

Bob: And a little word for John Comer, Drew? It’s terribly sad to think that this is the last time we’ll see him. Sid is a magnificent character, and has some of the funniest lines in the first ten years of the show… all delivered with absolutely immaculate comic timing. But he’s a great straight actor too, and I absolutely believe both in Sid and in that marriage. There’s a gritty truth to Sid, and he’s given these early years a lot of heart and soul. He made a great double act with Jane Freeman, but also an hilarious foursome with the three main characters, and I’ll miss him enormously. RIP Sid… and John.

Andrew: I’ll miss Sid enormously. Of all the things I’ve discovered in returning to these early series of Last of the Summer Wine, it’s the chemistry of John Comer and Jane Freeman that has been the most revelatory. Together, they brought vibrancy and charm to some of Roy Clarke’s very best scenes and, as you say, there’s a real truth to that relationship that’s quite rare in sitcom. They should have been given at least a pilot episode of their very own. It is very sad to watch him here with the knowledge that his voice was so weak that he had to be dubbed by another actor. Still, I’m glad that he made it to this film, the jewel in Summer Wine’s crown. It wouldn’t have been nearly as special without him. Here’s to you, John.

Comer
Getting Sam Home

STOP PRESS EVERYONE!

We’re now proud to unveil Getting Sam Home Again, our little feature film tracking down some of the more notable locations from this episode. Thanks to all at Sid’s Cafe and the Shoulder of Mutton pub for allowing us to film there, and to our regular, long-suffering cameraman Andrew Orton! He’s rapidly becoming our ‘Third Man’…

62 comments

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    June 26, 2015 11:45 amPosted 2 years ago
    Nick Griffiths

    Retroactively I often wondered if little Tommy Naylor was Sherbet from First of the Summer Wine.

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      June 26, 2015 11:49 amPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Oh, that’s an interesting thought. I haven’t seen ‘First of’ since it was broadcast… is it actually mentioned that Sherbert died in the war? I think I’ve always assumed that he did, for some reason.

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        June 27, 2015 10:51 amPosted 2 years ago
        Nick Griffiths

        I don’t think it ever is mentioned that Sherbet died in the war, but like you I assumed he had. I find it interesting that when Brian left for the final time Clarke created Truly rather then use an elderly Sherbet

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          June 27, 2015 4:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Bob Fischer

          That’s an interesting idea! Who would have played him? I could see Bob Grant from On The Buses in the part.

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            June 27, 2015 7:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Andrew T. Smith (Author)

            You see him in EVERY part.

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              June 27, 2015 9:23 pmPosted 2 years ago
              Bob Fischer

              You know the Woody Allen film, Play It Again Sam? With him haunted by Humphey Bogart at every turn, giving him romantic advice? That’s what my life is like, but it’s Jack from On The Buses instead.

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            June 28, 2015 12:27 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Nick Griffiths

            I never thought that far ahead. Tom Baker perhaps or would he have been too young? Needs to be someone quirky as Sherbet wasn’t a straghit guy.

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            June 29, 2015 9:18 amPosted 2 years ago
            Darren Stephens

            Part of me wonders how much ‘straight’ acting Mike Harding has done…

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    June 26, 2015 12:26 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Chris Orton

    Were market forces really at play with the BBC that far back, with regard to Bell submitting a lower quote than Lotterby?

    I’d have loved to have seen Douglas Camfield submit a lower quote and him get the job…

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      June 26, 2015 1:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith (Author)

      To quote from Bell’s book, which again I highly recommend you pick up:

      Sydney Lotterby may have successfully succeeded in snatching back the series, but I wasn’t going to let him have the feature-length film without a fight. It was mine: it was I who had persuaded the BBC to commission it, and I couldn’t see why I should step aside to let another Producer make it, no matter how senior he may be. It was another problem for the front office: how can they tell an Executive Producer that he can’t have the coveted Last of the Summer Wine film to make? The answer was found quite simply: have both Producers budget the film.

      Although the film was quite demanding of time and effort, I said that I could make it in four weeks. Sydney’s estimate was considerably longer than that.

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      June 26, 2015 1:30 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Apparently so… it’s in Alan JW Bell’s book. Along with the interesting revelation that it was Bill Owen’s suggestion to adapt the original novel into a TV episode.

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        June 26, 2015 1:30 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Bob Fischer

        Bugger, he beat me to it! Oh, well. Anyone fancy a Golden Rail holiday in the Channel Islands?

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    June 26, 2015 2:20 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Darren Stephens

    I’m a heretic. I’m not struck on the vocal them tune. But that’s a personal thing: I never got on with the Mike Sammes Singers, who always sounded a bit too close to Cliff Adams’ deathly Sing Something Simple, the sign the that Sunday afternoon was moving on apace was almost over, save for the charts on Radio 1.

    But this is utterly, utterly northern humour. I think all the funniest “northern” stuff is shot through with melancholy like writing through a stick of rock. There’s always a bit of pathos lurking in amongst the laughs. I think Clarke’s amazing at that kind of thing: life’s much too arduous not to laugh at; if you don’t it will drag you under. and that mordant quality is a feature of his work. I love the fact that Sam knows he hasn’t got long, it’s all very matter of fact: planning where his ashes will go, but not wallowing in it. Later on in the show’s run, I think the dialogue gets a bit too knowingly self-aware and veers towards self-parody almost, but here, it’s so beautifully natural and easy.

    And there are lots of prototypical characters for people we see later on. It looks like Sybil taught Pearl all she knows about marital froideur, for a start. And yes, there’s Lily (and isn’t Linda Barron great at those matronly, sort of “mumsy vixen” roles?), the template for Marina, though it’s true she’s certainly more obviously sensual.

    There is one little touch I love. When they first see Sam’s corpse, notice that Clegg and Compo are horrified and a bit repulsed. Foggy is the one who calmly goes to check the pulse. But I don’t think he has seen as much death as he lets on – look at how quickly Foggy lets go of Sam’s wrist when he knows he’s gone: like burning your fingers on a hot griddle. So Foggy, and a perfect little thing from Wilde to do it.

    But you’re right, this is the sort of episode you could pick apart for hours. Great screen writing, great direction, great score. What’s to dislike, eh?

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    June 26, 2015 2:59 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bob Fischer

    That’s a great spot, Darren! Foggy is a fascinating character; as clearly most of his ‘man of steel’ demeanour is a Walter Mitter-style facade… but, despite that, he HAS actually served in the army, presumably during the Second World War. So there’s a kernel of truth to it all. But yeah, Wilde is a consummate actor, and his performance is full of glorious, thoughtful toucheds like that.

    And yes, Clarke is virtually unbeatable when it comes to Northern pathos. How do you think he compares to, say, Alan Plater? Or Clement and La Frenais? All truly great writers, but I’m not sure I can imagine any of them coming up with the ‘Little Tommy Naylor’ scene.

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      June 26, 2015 4:39 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Darren Stephens

      I don’t know, tough one to call. I’ve just watched the Alan Plater Play for Today, The Land of Green ginger, that Mike Harding shared on his fb timeline recently because it has a lovely soundtrack with the Watersons on it. I think Plater, especially in the Beiderbecke stuff, can be just a bit more whimsical, but there is a hard edge beneath it sometimes.

      I think Clarke writes about a north that’s not there now, or even if it was is filtered heavily through nostalgic eyes (though nostalgia isn’t always cosy, remember that the etymology of the word talks about home and pain). I think he has that more so than the others. It’s almost like a hyperreal version the past in some ways, with many of the blurred lines of memory sharpened by his craft.

      I think Clement/la Frenais, especially in Porridge and WHTTLL are more cutting in social commentary. Anyone looking for the roots of Thatcherism just has to look at Bob Ferris and his move into suburban upward-mobility, and Terry, the last vestige of working class who were soon to be left behind by it all.

      All of them marvellous in their way, of course.

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        June 26, 2015 6:26 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Bob Fischer

        Yes, absolutely. I was just interested in their contrasting styles.

        In theory, I should be overwhelmed with North-Eastern nostalgia by WHTTLL… but oddly, I’m not. It’s a brilliant, brilliant series, but it doesn’t transport me to my childhood. But Clarke’s writing – espcially Summer Wine and Open All Hours – does. Maybe because I grew up in a town that had much more in common with Holmfirth than Newcastle-Upon-Tyne; mainly agricultural (back then anyway, these days it’s all posh bars and designer clobber), on the brink of the moors and with a real rough-hewn, rural charm.

        But it’s the people and the language, too. Virtually everyone in 1970s Summer Wine reminds me of people I knew as a child; all those tongue-clacking old women and embittered, broken-backed blokes, kicking around allotments after fifty years working in a factory. I see them in every single episode, and Clarke has got them all spot on.

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          June 29, 2015 10:16 amPosted 2 years ago
          Darren Stephens

          In fairness, WHTTLL could be set anywhere, really. It just so happens that Newcastle was going through all that T Dan Smith upheaval, and the jewel of consumerism that was to become Eldon Square was just being built, so there was something to hang it on. The likes of Bob were out buying houses up in the swish new bits of Marton, and even the newly built Marton Manor, not hanging around on the council estates, so we didn’t see much of that either really.

          On the other hand, you can also get that idea of terroir, like the wine growers wibble on about, which WHTTLL doesn’t have. LotSW has it: it simply could not be anywhere else, though it’s the oddest things that you connect with. For me, it’s the headscarves and the pinnies. Thinking back to the 70s and 80s, the headscarf was a de rigour accessory for any lady of a certain age wandering around Middlesbrough Town Centre, buying their tins of St Michael chicken supreme. Mam had one, and she was only in her 30s at the time. She was terrible. Every time we went into town she demanded my Dad and I put smart clothes on, as she didn’t want “showing up” if we bumped into anyone down there. Now, you can wander round your local Tesco in a onesie. O temporal! O mores!

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            June 29, 2015 3:17 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Bob Fischer

            There’s one early episode of Summer Wine with a couple of really grubby-looking kids (with incredibly greasy hair) sitting on a doorstep in the sunshine, and that single image transported me to the mid-1970s for some reason. I can’t remember the episode, but I definitely commented on it in our write-up. No kids have hair like that any more. The result of a weekly application of Vosene, under extreme duress.

            I was going to remark that it’s curious that Summer Wine never touched upon the 1970s ‘post new estate’ housing boom, but then realised that – in all my visits to Holmfirth – I can’t remember actually seeing any!

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              June 29, 2015 3:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
              Darren Stephens

              I think Vosene is one of the strongest smells of my childhood, along with home baking and Tyne Brand tinned Beef Stew (for some reason this always brings back memories of eating tea on a Saturday evening accompanied by the short-lived TV version of Logan’s Run). Oh, and Pears carbolic soap.

              Then we started getting all flash and buying Shield for a bit, with its “marbling”, and Imperial Leather, which always annoyed me because the label would always come off and end up somewhere in the bathwater.

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                June 29, 2015 4:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
                Bob Fischer

                Can you still get Vosene? I’m very tempted, it would be a big Proustian rush for me, too. See also: Matey.

                I still have a bottle of Brut 33 in the bathroom cupboard, and I occasionally like to ‘splash it on all over’ just so I can go out smelling like my Uncle Trevor in 1978. (Stop me if this is getting weird again)

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                  July 1, 2015 12:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
                  Darren Stephens

                  You can, though the bottle has changed now. It’s not that horrible green that made it hard to tell whether you were buying shampoo or industrial weed killer.

                  It’s all jaunty, bright shades these days…

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                    July 1, 2015 12:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
                    Bob Fischer

                    Everything is. Apart from cars – the only things on the planet whose colours have become more boring.

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    June 26, 2015 4:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Darren Stephens

    Plus, bang on about John Comer.

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      June 26, 2015 6:27 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      He’s stunning. Absolutely impeccable comic timing, every single time.

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      June 29, 2015 9:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith (Author)

      I’d love to talk to any relatives of John Comer, if we were able to track them down. His career path was pretty extraordinary and I really want to find out a little more about the actual man. The same goes for Joe Gladwin.

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    June 28, 2015 2:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Nick Griffiths

    It has occurred to me that on a drunken night out my friend Neil and I talked about buying the film rights to novel! We even talked about who we would play…

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      June 28, 2015 5:15 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      You can’t leave it there! Who did you cast yourselves as?

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        June 28, 2015 6:55 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Nick Griffiths

        Well Neil thought I’d be a good Compo and he had desires on Clegg, I could see him as Clegg. He has that wistful philosophical vibe about him. But I fancied being Blamire or Sid.

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    June 29, 2015 11:46 amPosted 2 years ago
    Nick Griffiths

    Just a thought on Clegg’s decision to go and confess all to Sybil. I wonder if this is a reflection of the book reflecting series 1 and 2 where Clegg was much more proactive.

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      June 29, 2015 3:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Good point! Clegg is downright confrontational in some of those early episodes, and can be a right grumpy bugger at times. Is it after Blamire’s departure that his ‘I’m not getting involved!’ persona comes to the fore, then? That would make sense, I guess, as a nice contrast to Foggy’s full on, go-getting attitude.

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        June 30, 2015 12:16 amPosted 2 years ago
        Nick Griffiths

        While I think he slowly becomes less confrontational as the Foggy episodes progress, in three through five he is still a bit like his early persona. The “not getting involved” aspect I think really takes form when Seymour arrives on the scene.

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    July 1, 2015 11:02 amPosted 2 years ago
    Hudson

    I remember this from the repeats in the early 1990s (I’m sure it was shown at least a couple of times around then as I definitely saw it more than once). It was interesting reading your comments about filming as they explain why it always felt a little different, not just that it was from 10 years earlier.

    It was my first time seeing Sid (I probably started watching a couple of years later) and that was quite strange as I never realised Ivy had been married.

    My memories are of it being a great episode, as you say, even if the second transportation of Sam seems a little contrived (but an essential part of many programmes as you point out). I now want to watch it on YouTube!

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      July 1, 2015 12:27 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Cheers Hudson!

      Have you used the fabulous BBC Genome site? You can search for Radio Times listings for any BBC TV or radio show, going back to 1923.

      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/

      I’d be interested to know when Getting Sam Home was repeated, too… the only definitely one I can find is 8th May 1994:

      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/9198e2bde00646ff9eb9354f08d6fcba

      Although it’s seems likely it was repeated at other times, and just not listed as ‘Getting Sam Home’… as, amazingly, even the original 1983 screening doesn’t use that title anywhere!

      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/c2e55f4514594c9b810a94f4e85e2da4

      Interesting question, then… when DID Getting Sam Home actually start being called Getting Sam Home?

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        July 1, 2015 2:43 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Darren Stephens

        I would imagine that the episode name must have been on the original script drafts, otherwise where would the name even come from? It was probably there at the very first read through.

        As for Genome : it’s ace. A colleague and I have been using it to track when certain cartoon series and kids’ shows started airing. He was doing a conference presentation in Japan about why Japanese anime broke through in Europe but not in the UK until late. Some of this included explicit Battle of the Planets talk…

        “I love metadata, me!”

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        July 1, 2015 2:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Darren Stephens

        One other little thing: the metadata from genome is not entirely ‘clean’ (and lots of it has probably been imported without human intervention), so just because the title isn’t recorded, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the title at this point.

        Why do I think so? Well, look at the listing for the original ’83 screening. Most of the cast are listed with “unknown” labels before they are recorded with character names. Something may have gone missing…

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          July 1, 2015 3:15 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Bob Fischer

          We’ve got the original 1983 Radio Times, though… scanned, above! There’s definitely no mention of ‘Getting Sam Home’ on it.

          You HAVE got me looking up Battle of the Planets transmission dates now though, you bugger. Is Monday 3rd September 1979 the earliest one? That was the first day of the school year, too. Two days after Destiny of the Daleks Part 1 was broadcast. What have I done with my life?

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            July 1, 2015 3:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Darren Stephens

            True, but even there you can see significant divergence between the original paper stuff and the digital.

            And while we’re at it: Maxton Beesley. That’s a name and a half, innit? Though he did get a bit more informal by the time he got to Hotel Babylon.

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              July 1, 2015 3:39 pmPosted 2 years ago
              Bob Fischer

              It’s TV heart-throb Max Beesley! Bloody hell! I’d NEVER realised. How old was he in this, then? Actually, I’ll answer my own question. He was 12.

              Surely the only Last of the Summer Wine cast member to have played in Paul Weller’s band? Unless Juliette Kaplan is keeping something really close to her chest.

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                July 1, 2015 3:56 pmPosted 2 years ago
                Bob Fischer

                Although isn’t Colin’s mate the lad in the boiler suit, who stakes a claim for all of Sam’s tools from the shed while they’re shifting his coffin out? He’s not 12!

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        July 2, 2015 1:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Hudson

        I’d not searched it in that way before, but it did help me find a particular book which had been on Jackanory in the early 1980s and it had bugged me for years what it was called. Took a while as I had to via date!
        No idea when the other repeat was, but I think it would have been a year or so either side.

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          July 4, 2015 11:52 amPosted 2 years ago
          Bob Fischer

          You can’t leave us in suspense, Hudson… what was the book?

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            July 28, 2015 8:41 amPosted 2 years ago
            Hudson

            Sorry, only just seen this. It was Mr McFadden’s Halloween. We saw the first 4 parts but were out for the last, and was pre video and iplayer of course so you just accepted it. But for whatever reason I always wondered what book it was. On another topic you’ve brought up before it was interesting as an early 1970s Halloween story in south Scotland which included kids going door to door and with turnip lanterns.

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              July 28, 2015 6:21 pmPosted 2 years ago
              Bob Fischer

              Ah, fascinating! Yes, I’ve been told by SO many people that knocking on doors for Halloween just didn’t exist until we imported it from the USA in the 1980s. But I definitely did it from around 1977/78, and it was by no means a new thing… it was something that my parents were familiar with, as were the people whose doors we knocked on, as they all gave us a few pennies!

              I think it might have been a Scottish/Northern English thing… memories of it get less and less common the further south you go.

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                July 28, 2015 6:44 pmPosted 2 years ago
                Jakob1978

                In the eighties we did the same (I’m from Durham), making turnip lanterns, and knocking on doors asking “penny for the lantern”. We never dressed up, and it was always just going to houses of friends, but it was definitely a thing back then. Nothing on the scale it is now of course, and we were always far more interested in the fact it was less than a week till bonfire night.

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                  July 28, 2015 8:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
                  Darren Stephens

                  we absolutely did that, “hallowe’en-ing”. Mostly repeating the little chant

                  The sky is blue
                  The grass is green
                  have you got a penny for hallowe’en?

                  by this point we’d usually been told to bugger off with our turnip lanterns so we never got to:

                  if you haven’t got a penny
                  a ha’penny will do
                  if you haven’t got a ha’penny
                  God bless/help you

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                    July 28, 2015 9:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
                    Bob Fischer

                    Yep, exactly the same experiences (and rhyme) for me as for both of you. We’re weird, Pagan people up North.

                    I’ve mentioned this on the radio before, and had listeners claiming to have done it around Teesside in the early 1960s.

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        July 26, 2015 11:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
        jakob1978

        The first repeat in 1984, was listed in the Radio Times as “Getting Sam Home”, but that title definitly doesn’t appear anywhere onscreen or in the RT for the original showing.

        There’s another episode later (now referred to as Barry’s Christmas) which also doesn’t have an onscreen title, and goes untitled in the RT too.

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    July 26, 2015 9:40 amPosted 2 years ago
    WSTOL

    Getting Sam Home was most DEFINITELY repeated in very early January 1993, still over the Christmas period. I taped it off the tv. Probably the first Sunday of 1993 I would say.

    Strangely, it was repeated just over a year later in 1994.

    I’m certain there was a repeat showing during the 80s. I’m convinced there was a trailer for a showing which had Tears for Fears’ ‘Everbody Wants to Rule the World’ OR ‘Everybody Wants to Run the World’.

    Now these songs are basically the same (changed for a major sporting event I think), and are from 1985 and 1986.

    However, Genome doesn’t list a showing for 1985 or 1986.

    I think there was a listing for 1984. Maybe there wasn’t a showing then, perhaps it got cancelled, perhaps there was an unscheduled showing in 1985 (or 1986) instead.

    I don’t know for sure – it was 30 years ago.

    However, there was a 1986 BBC Video release. Very rare, didn’t seem to available for all that long – but crops occasionally on e-bay.

    Hope all this helps.

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      July 26, 2015 11:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
      jakob1978

      Regarding repeats, using the BBC genome site i’ve found these airings of Getting Sam Home

      27/12/1983 – http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/c2e55f4514594c9b810a94f4e85e2da4

      08/05/1984
      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/9198e2bde00646ff9eb9354f08d6fcba

      30/09/1984
      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/607df590551447419ecce4fba556ffea

      03/01/1993
      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/29828b7dd17b4ba2a1597822965bde07

      08/05/1994
      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/9198e2bde00646ff9eb9354f08d6fcba

      interestingly, you mentioned the video tape released in 1986, and you can see the advert for it (and another called just LotSW) that appeared next to the entry for Jaws here
      http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/e3a1aae542bf450ea4a35f72376fe996

      Video, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. BBCV/B 7028. £29. 95; and the feature-length film special video, ‘Last of the Summer Wine: GettingSam Home ‘. BBCV/B 7055, £24.95, from retailers.

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      July 27, 2015 6:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Thanks, that’s interesting! It’s possible the 1985/86 screenings just didn’t use the title ‘Getting Sam Home’, so might not show if you’re searching for that phrase on Genome.

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        July 27, 2015 7:46 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Jakob1978

        Yeh, I ended up searching for members of the cast (Olive Pendleton and Peter Russell). I’m pretty sure that’s all the showings that were scheduled, though of course it may have been shown as a change to schedules, which wouldn’t show up.

        I eventually ended up searching for Brian Wilde and Bill Owen together which threw up a couple of intriguing appearances that I wish I could find, such as a Val Doonican show from 1979 which featured Bill Owen, Peter Sallis, Brian Wilde and Jane Freeman, and a show called “The Kids International Show” in 1982 which had Bill, Peter and Brian (along with the Three Degrees).

        It also showed that 1983 was the year to be watching LotSW on BBC1. You had 2 showings of series 7 (in Jan-Mar and then Nov-Dec), 2 Xmas specials repeated in March (Whoops repeated the week after S7 finished) and May (All Mod Conned), a repeat of Funny Side of Xmas in August, and then Getting Sam Home at Christmas.

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          July 27, 2015 9:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Bob Fischer

          A repeat of the Funny Side of Christmas in August?!?!? I thought you were joking here, but good grief… you’re right! It was repeated on Monday 22nd August, primetime BBC1! That’s INSANE.

          http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/6b559c907c754533a216d4d11e7ab2e6

          The Val Doonican thing from 1979 is an interesting story, I think… I’m sure I’ve read that that sketch was recorded, and scheduled, but never actually transmitted on the finished programme – it was pulled at the last minute after contractual issues. Possibly the fact that it wasn’t written by Roy Clarke? I’m honestly not certain, but I’m 99% sure it wasn’t shown in the end.

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            July 27, 2015 11:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
            jakob1978

            I know..it’s extraordinary (it was shown straight after episode one of Kinda, one of the best Doctor Who stories ever too). I have to say, I love the Genome site, i could waste hours looking through the listings. It’s tantalising seeing things which i’m unlikely to actually see again though, like the episode of Blue Peter going behind the scenes on Crums

            http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/a8d3605108ad488392316d328e1f1591

            You’re quite right about the Val Doonican show. As soon as I read your comment, it rang a bell, and a quick look through Andrew Vine’s LotSW book gives this quote from Alan Bell

            “There was a Christmas party at the BBC…and someone went up to Roy and said ‘Really enjoyed the bit with the three Summer Wine men in the Val Doonican show,” and he said ‘What bit with the three men?’ They hadn’t asked him. All the words had been written by another writer, and Roy said, ‘You’ve seen it, but no one else will,’…the Head of Entertainment went to see Roy, who said, ‘ I know nothing about it, but no bugger’s going to write words for my characters.’ So it never went out.”

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              July 28, 2015 6:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
              Bob Fischer

              Ha, well found! My memory is more reliable than I thought!

              And yes, Kinda is an incredible piece of TV. I actually remember watching that repeat of it, as I went out picking blackberries with my parents, and was back just in time to see it! Bizarre the things that stick in your mind.

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    July 26, 2015 9:43 amPosted 2 years ago
    WSTOL

    How do we edit?

    We don’t.

    Didn’t make it clear the Tears for Fears track was dubbed onto the trailer.

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    July 26, 2015 11:50 pmPosted 2 years ago
    jakob1978

    I do think this is one of the finest episodes produced. I agree that if it had been released theatrically, it would stand above virtually all other sitcom spinoff films.

    I like the differences between this and the series, the voiceovers are superb insights into the thinking of the characters (I love hearing moments like Foggy complaining about Clegg carrying the Bike wheel, or worrying about being put in the Chamber of Horrors next to Burke & Hare).

    I think you can see echos of Blamire in the characterisation of Foggy in this though, his comment early on refering to Fairburn “Well, it’s none of our business why he’s here, which i find makes it rather more fascinating” is one example that to me, just sounds more Blamire than Foggy. I think the drunkenness is another example, in the first couple of series Blamire drank as much as Compo & Clegg (that lovely scene at the end of Pate & Chips where they’re passing the bottle around for example), whereas Foggy, although often seen with a drink in the pubs, always seemed to me to be more sober in attitude to drink.

    Did you notice that the dialogue in the precredits sequence (Who’s Steering…etc) was lifted from the soundtrack to “A Bicycle Made for Three”).

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      July 27, 2015 6:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      I’d never noticed that! Brilliant spot, thanks Jakob.

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    August 24, 2017 6:53 amPosted 26 days ago
    Simon S

    I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I watched it on the DVD, can’t say if I’d seen it on telly.

    I don’t care for it.

    There’s two basic problems I have which work against it (I don’t much care for Lynda Baron either, but she does the best she can with what she’s expected to do).

    The structure is the first problem. The second half is pretty much an exact mirror of the first, except that Sam’s dead the second time round. Farce is a tricky style, and maybe I’m getting old, but lugging corpses around is rather more macabre than this jolly little sitcom usually manages.

    Which brings me to the other problem – poor John Comer.

    There are plenty of illnesses where the sufferer loses control as it is; to watch this suffering is generally unbearable. To see John present in body alone is somehow a lot sadder than the storyline situation with Sam. Also, I don’t think Tony Melody is that accurate (I dread to suppose there were ever plans for this arrangement over a series). I appreciate it’s a makeshift solution, but to me, it doesn’t work.

    It’s not quite “jumping the shark” time, but this special is certainly a bad omen for the future.

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      September 13, 2017 7:29 amPosted 6 days ago
      Simon S

      I did put the DVD in again last night just to check, but I don’t think I’d change anything of what I wrote – though Sid’s “Purple People Eater” chip van probably deserves more mention – the comedy vehicle which is in such bad condition that you wonder how the heck it starts, and how long before it conks out.

      Reply

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