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Series 8 Episode 2: Keeping Britain Tidy


In which Ogden has a mid-life crisis…

Andrew: There’s an odd little title sequence in this one. Our trio wander up a lane and observe a bloke cleaning a window, who in turn looks down and observes them. Its so brief, and has so little to do with anything else in the episode, that I wonder about the reasoning behind it, rather than just doing the usual ‘credits over countryside’ sequences that we usually see on episodes that begin in the hills.

Bob: I was just excited at seeing one of my favourite free car-parking spots… we’ve parked up in that street a couple of times on our visits to Holmfirth. I like the trademark whimsical musing at the start here, with Compo wanting to be an insect trapper, ‘Big Bill Simonite… I’d ride into town with me load of priceless bluebottle pelts’. This is gloriously barmy surrealism – it’s worthy of Eddie Izzard! In fact, didn’t Izzard do a live routine about tiny ‘bee cosies’, years later? He owes everything he has to Compo. Apart from possibly his dress sense.

Andrew: Clegg is still in a state of evolution, transforming from the pro-active character of the early episodes to the timid and reluctant adventurer he will settle into. He seems to have plenty of energy here – I love the mock swordfight he and Compo engage in – but he still squirms when he realises that Foggy is conjuring up a scheme.

Bob: I’m with Foggy all the way in this episode… he’s disgusted to find an abandoned mattress rotting on the moorside, and pledges to found ‘The Dewhirst Campaign for a Cleaner Countryside’. I’m right behind you, comrade! I’ll get the T-shirts printed up! I spend a lot of time tramping around hills, woods and moors in North Yorkshire, and nothing gets me more annoyed than the sight of beer cans and biscuit wrappers chucked into hedgerows or blowing around the trees. Have some respect, you grunting halfwits! If you’ve ever dropped litter in the countryside, I hope a crack squadron of giant badgers come round to your house one night and crap all over your front room carpet. See how you like it. And believe you me, badger crap STINKS.

Andrew: And believe me, readers, he’d know! Clegg’s enthusiasm soon fades when he spies the arrival of the magnificently described, ‘Ogden Butterclough, demon insurance man’.

Bob: BRIAN GLOVER KLAXON! I’m watching most of these episodes for the first time since their original broadcasts, and I genuinely don’t look ahead to see what’s coming, so it was a brilliant surprise to see Glover appear, narrowly missing squashing Compo with his car. Given that he’s such a prominent Yorkshire actor, and had done tons of sitcoms by this stage, it’s amazing it took so long to get him into Summer Wine!

Andrew: He’s certainly the type of actor who can elevate a part – or even a show – simply by turning up to appear. I think my personal favourite is his gloriously OTT appearance as Mr Rottweiler in the Gas episode of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson’s Bottom.

Bob: Do you get independent, travelling insurance men any more? Of course you don’t. We all just do it online, being bossed about by a truculent hound. A friend of mine used to work for Churchill, and said he fielded about a dozen calls a day from giggling pillocks asking to speak to the dog.

Andrew: What was the company policy with that? Transfer the call to Vic Reeves’ personal number?

Bob: ‘I’m sorry, the dog’s not available at the moment. Can I help?’ Genuinely. You know what, I was expecting Ogden to be a traditional Angry Sitcom Bloke, but he’s not! He’s actually quite jaded and sympathetic. He wants to abandon his humdrum existence and life the life of a travelling itinerant! ‘Gauguin did it… he went to the South Seas to paint dusky maidens’, he muses. Oddly enough, an argument also used by Bob Ferris to justify his mid-life crisis in the Likely Lads movie! The male mid-life crisis is a comedy goldmine, though. Show me a 40-year-old bloke who hasn’t, in some idle moment, dreamed of packing a few bottles of Badger Golden Glory into a rucksack and walking into the sunset to seek spiritual enlightenment (and possibly a few dusky maidens) and I’ll show you a man without a soul.

Andrew: I can imagine it now, scores of fifty-year-old linoleum salesmen hitchhiking to freedom down the A1, with scruffy mattresses strapped to their backs.

Bob: ‘I hate it when people spill blood’, winces Clegg. ‘Why can’t we be filled with a nice, fragrant powder?’ That made me laugh. And is the angry cyclist who punctures Ogden’s car tyre former Doctor Who stuntman Derek Ware? Yes! Yes it bloody well is! Brilliant. Last spotted croaking ‘Ooooar?’ and riding his bike into a quarry outside the Axon spaceship.

Andrew: It’s quite rare to see Ware enjoying such a meaty role. For those not in the know, he’s probably best known as a stuntman and the founder of HAVOC, a team of daredevil blokes with grizzled late 1960s features and later 1970s chest hair, to be found gracing the more dangerous scenes in television series like Adam Adamant Lives!, Doctor Who, and Dick Barton: Special Agent. He had an amazing career in film, television, and on stage, but more often than not can only be glimpsed while doubling for another actor’s character.

Bob: Actually, was it Ware cleaning the windows in that opening sequence that confused us? I think it was! That explains it! That sequence was just a nifty bit of foreshadowing.

This is turning into a meditation on the tensions and tempers of modern living. Everyone is being driven mad by life’s little annoyances! As REM once poignantly sang, ‘It’s the little things that can pull you under’. And it’s true. Give me a day with one huge, single, sorrowful problem to deal with it, and I’ll stick my jaw out and deal with it manfully. Give me a day filled with dozens of utterly pointless niggles and I’m ready to head to the South Seas myself. Fire up the dusky maidens, Drew.

Andrew: By the way, it’s well over 14 minutes before our trio retreat to the café and therefore the television studio. Is that a record for filmed sequences in the series? I know we’ve had an entire feature-length special on film, but I can’t stress how unusual this is for a sitcom of the period. Not that I’m complaining; as much as I appreciate the live studio audience, I think the best material is increasingly to be found amongst the on-location scenes.

Bob: Crusher is working in the café! Our first glimpse of him! Ivy refers to him as her nephew, so do we assume he’s the son of Sid’s brother? They’re clearly designed to look alike, even down to the slicked-back hair!

Andrew: I think we have to assume he’s Sid’s relation rather than Ivy’s, hence the familiar distain with which she treats him! Had he been a blood relative, I doubt he could have done anything wrong in her eyes.

Bob: He’s not a direct replacement for Sid, though… whereas John Comer’s dialogue was filled with razor-sharp one-liners, Crusher is – as my Dad would say – ‘thick as a NAAFI table’. I’ve been watching The Young Ones recently, and he actually wouldn’t be out of place in it – there’s a real air of post-punk menace about him! Is this Roy Clarke’s little nod to alternative comedy, do we think? Whatever, Jonathan Linsley does a great job, and I like Compo’s line – ‘Who rubbed a lamp?’. And Foggy’s – ‘Yegods, the Egon Ronay Armoured Division’! You can tell the series is growing older, and broadening out a little now… with first Wesley, and now Crusher joining the regular cast.

Mind you, I don’t believe Brian Glover would be intimated by Crusher. Glover was a champion wrestler… Leon Aris, the Man from Paris! He was nails! He’d have Crusher in a headlock and be slamming him against the café counter before Ivy could safeguard the chip butties (still 25p)

Andrew: His fear of Ivy is completely understandable, however. She’s even more formidable, now that we see her dominating the likes of Crusher!

Bob: There’s a nice little snapshot in time here, as they exit the café… what’s very obviously a coach full of holidaymaking tourists slowly chugs along the main road past the square. I wonder how many people on that bus had come to Holmfirth purely because of Last of the Summer Wine? You’d have to suspect most of them, really… the show was a huge success by this point, and they’d have been desperate to catch a glimpse of some filming. And they got it! As soon as they arrived in town! We’ve been to that café a few times now, Drew… imagine how exciting it must have been to drive past it and see Compo, Clegg and Foggy being thrown from the door. Oh, I’m all a-quiver. Cancel my flight to the South Seas, I’m staying put.

Andrew: Far be it from me to stop you mid-quiver, but I think that bus is empty. We’ll have to order up HD copies from the BBC archive to make sure, though. Nevertheless, it won’t be long before the effects of tourism generated by the show are in many ways felt upon the series itself. It must have become an absolute nightmare having to heard ogling bystanders out of view of the camera, and even more difficult to get them to keep their mouths shut!

Bob: ‘It’s a bad time for children,’ muses Foggy. ‘You get ‘em to fourteen, and their hair turns green’. Not in 1985, granddad! It were all blond highlights and mullets by then.

Andrew: Yes, but before the digital revolution, wasn’t it a safe bet to say that a small Yorkshire town like this was operating at least five years behind a bustling metropolis like your own Stockton?

Bob: Stockton? How dare you. I have dual nationality: born in Middlesbrough, raised in Yarm. Hey, I love the fact that Brian Glover has carried his punctured tyre EVERYWHERE in this episode! It’s a great little touch of low-key surrealism. A proper McGuffin. It’s Summer Wine’s version of the glowing briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

Andrew: I love the fact that the trio have carried Brian Glover around for the duration as well! There’s something about the way in which they’re inducting him into their world and introducing him to the various characters that populate it that makes it feel like the series in preparing us for him to join full time. I know that this isn’t going to happen, but based on this one appearance I would have welcomed Glover with open arms!

Bob: Absolutely, he’s great. And wow, does Foggy actually STAND UP to Nora on her doorstep here? Just for once, he’s not intimidated at all by her aggressive brushing! And she actually gives in, and lets them in to see Wally! The tide is turning here, Drew. It’s a watershed moment. Nothing can ever be the same again.

Andrew: I can only assume that Foggy briefly feels that Nora is manageable, following his brush with Crusher. She soon ensures that the natural order of things is restored, however; by the time Foggy is settled into her front room he’s back to being a quivering jelly.

S8E2aBob: I love Wally Batty, though. I may have mentioned this before. When I head for the South Seas, can I take Joe Gladwin with me as well?

Andrew: Although, of course, Wally isn’t allowed to assist the trio with a lift up the hill with his motorbike. Perhaps that’s part of what makes the character so intoxicating to us; Nora keeps him rationed – Wally Batty, forbidden fruit!

Bob: And so Ogden’s car is fixed, and the mattress attached to the roof rack as Foggy’s clean-up campaign starts in earnest. It looks insane, but do you know what? It’s so true to life. My Dad never had any qualms whatsoever about strapping all manner of insanely large objects to the roof of our car. We were once driving along the A66 when a wardrobe – yes, a WARDROBE – that he was transporting from my Nana’s house slipped off into the hard shoulder. How’s that for a stunt? Even Derek Ware would head for the South Seas if you told him that.

Andrew: I refuse to be impressed until you reveal you were inside the wardrobe at the time.

Bob: The first episode of this new series was very much ‘business as usual’, but this feels like the start of a new era already. Brian Glover’s Ogden was almost the main character in this, the first time I think we’ve encountered a visiting, big-name guest star who gets that kind of treatment. And with the introduction of Crusher too, it feels like we’re now entering a wider world. And I think that’s fair enough… as brilliant as the three lead actors are, the show had been running for 12 years at this point, and I don’t blame Clarke at all for wanting to take it in new directions. Something I’d felt a bit uneasy about before we watched these shows in order, and in context, but now I think it’s completely the right decision.

Andrew:  Yes, so far so good! It’s a significant tonal shift from Getting Sam Home, but then again that film was a big shift from what preceded it. I’ve mentioned before that the popular conception of the show as unchanging is wrong, and this kind of change of direction demonstrates why – for a good portion of its run, the series never rested on its laurels.

 

27 comments

  • Visit site
    July 7, 2016 9:56 amPosted 1 year ago
    Chris Orton

    I was born in Stockton.

    I left it at five days old.

    Reply
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      July 7, 2016 10:02 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      With a knapsack over your back?

      Reply
  • Visit site
    July 7, 2016 10:28 amPosted 1 year ago
    Jakob1978

    Welcome back 🙂

    This is a pretty good episode. I think my favourite scene is the one in Nora and Wallys house. Wally’s “She’ll be listening at the door. She’s always listening at the door”, followed by Nora bursting in with her broom “It’s a lie!!”. Perfect comic timing from both.

    Reply
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      July 7, 2016 10:37 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Cheers, Jakob! Yeah, that’s a really nice scene. Joe Gladwin’s comic timing is amongst the best of the best… he really is absolutely razor-sharp. We’ve still got a long interview with the lovely Jonathan Linsley to transcribe and get on the site, in which he talks quite a bit about Joe’s early years – none of which have been documented much, I suspect. He led an incredible life.

      Reply
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        July 8, 2016 3:57 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Jakob1978

        I look forward to the interview.

        It’s funny, but rewatching the series from the beginning recently, it’s noticeable how little Joe Gladwin is actually in it. Often he only has a couple of lines, but my god…they’re often the best lines in the whole episode. I really do think he might have the best natural timing of anyone in the show. I can’t think of any line or piece of physical comedy he had that didn’t hit the mark perfectly.

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          July 8, 2016 8:34 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          There’s a period around Series 7/8 where Nora and Wally almost have their own distinct sitcom-within-a-sitcom… quite a few episodes where we cut away to self-contained scenes with the pair of them.

          But you’re right, Joe steals every single scene. He was a variety performer from a VERY early age (early teens, I think… so around the time of WW1, amazingly) and those guys knew their onions.

          Reply
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      July 7, 2016 10:53 amPosted 1 year ago
      Andrew T. Smith (Author)

      Look everyone – Jakob’s back!

      Reply
  • Visit site
    July 7, 2016 10:32 amPosted 1 year ago
    David Brunt

    Derek Ware had a semi-recurring LOTSW role as a window cleaner/workman in the mid-80s.

    Most noticeable in one of the Seymour xmas episodes where he goes past a bus on scaffolding.

    Reply
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      July 7, 2016 10:38 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Spoilers, Sweetie!

      I didn’t realise they kept bringing him back to be tormented over and over again… that’s a nice touch.

      Reply
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    July 7, 2016 2:51 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Nick Griffiths

    I think you may be correct in thinking that this is the season where the show begins to change, no doubt due to the influence of Alan Bell behind the helm. We are beginning to venture into the random guest star driving the trios plotline for the episode, however at this stage in is still the trio which is the focus point of the show. The supporting cast are yet to be thrust so much into the limelight.

    Reply
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      July 7, 2016 4:26 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      I’m sure I’ve read that Roy Clarke was really keen to expand the cast as well, and make it more of an ensemble piece. I can’t remember where, though! I’ve reached that age…

      Reply
      • July 7, 2016 9:46 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Nick Griffiths

        I wonder why. Was it to take the strain off the aging actors perhaps, or was it to ease the storylining perhaps?

        Reply
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          July 8, 2016 8:35 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          A little bit of both, I suspect.

          Reply
  • Visit site
    July 7, 2016 4:25 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon Smith

    Brian Glover. A strange career for a northern former wrestler. Loads of bit parts (he appears as Flint in the classic Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads episode ‘No hiding place’-I took a while to realise it’s him), and then out of the blue lands a part in Alien3. Massively underrated film in my view. Brian plays a rather brutal prison warden (ironic after his role in Porridge), who meets his end after a lot of bluster about the alien not existing!
    He sadly died a few years after. Like you say- great in this and a shame he never reappeared- I could imagine him doing a Billy Ingleton and turning up for a special here and there;
    (in Compo voice)” Heyup it’s that insurance bloke again-has tha broken down again, cos we’ve got just the interfering twit to help you”

    Reply
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      July 7, 2016 5:49 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      He’s one of that curious breed of British actor who would occasionally pop in a big US movie… he’s got that lovely scene in An American Werewolf In London, as well. ‘Stick to the road, lads…’

      Reply
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        July 7, 2016 6:54 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Andrew T. Smith (Author)

        With, bringing it back to Bottom – Rik Mayall!

        Reply
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          July 7, 2016 7:11 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          Blimey, of course. Rik Mayall’s pre-Young Ones career get hugely overlooked. He did some amazing stuff. I’d love to see ‘A Kick Up The Eighties’ get released, just for Rik’s ‘Kevin Turvey’ monologues.

          Reply
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      July 7, 2016 7:21 pmPosted 1 year ago
      David Brunt

      As well as being a part-time wrestler, Brian Glover was also a PE Teacher and part-time amateur actor.

      He was cast as the sports teacher in ‘Kes’ and the acting side slowly took over in the 1970s.

      Reply
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        July 7, 2016 9:30 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Bob Fischer

        Yeah, I remember being told years ago that he actually was the PE teacher at that school in Kes.

        Not QUITE true, apparently – he taught PE at Barnsley schools a stones’ throw from it, but never at that particular school.

        Reply
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    July 8, 2016 12:44 amPosted 1 year ago
    Kathie Pardy

    Hi,
    Just watched these two episodes. So nice to have the commentary to go along with it. Keep up the good work. I’ve also watched all the other episodes
    with your commentaries.
    Thank you!

    Reply
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      July 8, 2016 7:54 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      A pleasure Kathie, lovely to have you along for the ride! Thanks for the kind words.

      Reply
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    July 8, 2016 5:10 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Nick Griffiths

    I voiced this thought elsewhere but could young Milburn be an illigitimate sprog of Sid and Ivy, or at least of Sid? It has been established that Ivy’s family were not very forthcoming with Ivy’s marriage to Sid and there always was a rift between the two. It would certainly add a touch more pathos to comments Ivy makes in Pate & Chips.

    Reply
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      July 8, 2016 8:31 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Woah! Are you suggesting Sid’s widely-documented ding-dong with the bus conductress ended up in more than his ticket being punched?

      I wonder…

      (And I’m sure we must have asked this before, but you’ve got me wondering about it again… do we EVER find out Sid, Ivy or Crusher’s surname?)

      Reply
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        July 9, 2016 9:48 amPosted 1 year ago
        Nick Griffiths

        One or two of the VHS releases by the BBC refers to Sid as Sid Cassidy, but I have a feeling that may have been misinterpreting a nickname in one episode.

        With Milburn I always assumed it was “Auntie Ivy” as opposed to Auntie Ivy, in much the same way I have an “Auntie Jan” and “Uncle Rob”, friends of my parents as opposed to blood relatives. But I always thought it odd that they made Milburn have such a similar stature and look to Sid and not go for a stroppy niece.

        Reply
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          July 9, 2016 4:21 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          Cassidy, really? I didn’t know that! That’s interesting… which episode do you think they’re misinterpreting, then? The only one I can think of is Deep In The Heart of Yorkshire… does he get called ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ in that, when he dresses up as a cowboy?

          And yeah, I’d kind of assumed Crusher was a blood relation, purely because he looks so much like Sid… I just thought he must be Sid’s brother’s son.

          One thing that I only realised when re-watching this episode… the reason why Crusher’s ‘frock’ is so tight on him is because it’s (surely) Sid’s old overall!

          Reply
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            July 9, 2016 4:27 pmPosted 1 year ago
            Nick Griffiths

            I think it was Getting on Sidney’s Wire, as the plot description lists him as Sid “the Butcher” Cassidy and the name reappears on the complet series two release I think.

            Did Sid ever mention a brother or a sister? I’m still going to fight that Milburn is Sid’s illigitimate son.

            Reply
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    September 8, 2017 1:42 pmPosted 1 month ago
    Simon S

    The skit about “Compo the Insect Trapper” isn’t a million miles from Monty Python, and it does lead into the fly-tipping (ahem).

    They’ve done that “finest swordsman in all France” bit a few times now.

    Foggy seems to side with Christians against Buddhists.

    But then – Brian Glover in a red Mini – now there’s a punchline. And he IS his role, the menacing insurance man with a fancy woman and a mid-life crisis he probably didn’t know he had. When he bemoans of what he could do in the South Seas, it’s a wonder Clegg doesn’t suggest he should sell them insurance.

    It’s rare cunning from Foggy to fit him up as drunk, and vulnerable to moving the mattress, especially when one idle punch dents his car roof.

    Derek Ware gets a useful cameo, as one flat tyre deserves another.

    And it’s a shame we saw Crusher in the ‘Loxley Lozenge’ because this is clearly his debut, towering over Foggy and wearing his “frock” over his jacket (no wonder it’s tight).

    FOGGY: We’re not the sort of people to abandon a chap in difficulties.
    OGDEN: You could try!
    He’s clearly rueing ever meeting them, lugging his mended wheel to the café, and into Nora’s front room, and back up the hill – where he finally finds the missing spare was there all the time, so it’s been his fault anyway.

    The first run with the mattress soon leads to trouble, so once again it’s Take 2, Compo on the roof, and the car upturned! Dramatic enough, but Clegg’s reference to the need for a mattress is one of the neater pay-offs.

    Reply

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