Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 8 Episode 3: Enter the Phantom

Series 8 Episode 3: Enter the Phantom


In which Compo’s winged ferret takes flight…

Bob: This opening shot looks bloody freezing! It’s blowing a gale up there.

Andrew: Look at Brian Wilde’s trousers go!

Bob: ‘Look at Brian Wilde’s trousers go!’ is the best sentence either of us have ever written on this website. Clegg is decidedly grumpy about the prospect of walking in these conditions… ‘Don’t tell me we’ve walked all this way and God’s not in,’ he grumbles. And I’m slightly surprised to see that Foggy has an Ordnance Survey map on him! Are they that far from home? I always assume they know these hills like the backs of their proverbial hands, but maybe they have been on a bit of an expedition here.

Andrew: I think Compo and Clegg know exactly where they are. If Foggy wants to over-complicate things and play at being the leader, they’re quite happy to let him.

Bob: As a kid, I was always intrigued by Foggy’s wartime occupation as a ‘Corporal Signwriter’… and I still am! Does this military position actually exist? I can find plenty of evidence of army signwriters, but Googling for ‘Corporal Signwriter’ just brings up hundreds of references to Foggy. Are there any military historians out there who might be able to help?

Anyway, not for the first time, I’m with Foggy here. He’s exasperated at Compo and Clegg’s reluctance to explore that beautiful countryside, and I would be too. Why wouldn’t you want to spend a brisk and breezy day finding new bits of Yorkshire? A similar thing happened when I watched Mike Leigh’s Nuts In May recently. Ever seen it, Drew? It’s fabulous, but my attitude towards the main character, Keith Pratt, has completely changed over the years. When I saw it as a teenager, he was just a figure of fun – an uptight nutcase who railed against the world. But I watched it last year, and… Keith is right! About everything! He has a genuine love of the countryside, he’s passionate about animal rights and folk music, he likes a bit of peace and quiet and expects people to respect his privacy. I feel the same about Foggy. I laughed at him when I was young, but now… I think we’d get on.

Andrew: I think Ronnie Hazlehurst’s score is on Foggy’s side as well. There’s a beautifully wistful cue that plays beneath his defence of these outdoor pursuits.

Bob: Rudely interrupted by scramblers on motorbikes! Churning up the moors! That’s a real 1980s thing… suddenly, whenever my Dad and I walked in the hills, we’d see gangs of these pillocks scattering sheep and making a bloody racket. I’m surprised Foggy takes it all in his stride, I thought he’d be outraged. Keith Pratt would never have stood for it all.

Andrew: And, back in the café, the scramblers even provide Foggy with some inspiration. He suggests that, while Nora would be able to resist Compo’s charms, she would be defenceless when faced with ‘The Phantom’.

Bob: Are your ‘stunt finale’ senses tingling, Drew? Foggy seems inexplicably determined to turn Compo into this mystery stunt rider… ‘The Phantom’, indeed. Since when did Foggy like to encourage Compo’s amorous intentions? He’s normally desperate to drag him away from her!

Still, I love Ivy’s pep talk to Crusher in the café. ‘They’re not wicked… they’re not bad… and only one third of them could be said to be unhygienic. What they are… is irresponsible’. And yet again, she expresses her theory that men, without women in their lives, turn – in an nutshell – daft. And again, I think that’s true. Left to our own devices, we end up sitting up at 1.30am writing detailed critiques of 31-year-old sitcoms.

Nice to hear a Barry Sheene reference, too! It’s easy to forget how massive he was, but Sheene was a huge celebrity in the early 1980s. He suffered horrendous injuries in a crash in 1982 and the X-rays of his pinned-together limbs made the front pages of EVERY newspaper. Actually, motorbikes in general were a big thing amongst my generation of schoolkids! Fascinated by Sheene, Eddie Kidd and Evel Kneivel, we dreamed of racing around the streets on the latest Kawasaki, and jumping over the No 294 bus to Eaglescliffe. And everyone knew an older brother or a neighbour who, at the age of 16, immediately starting tootling around on a 50cc Honda, posing outside the corner shop with a tinted crash helmet and a battered leather jacket. Wanting to be Eddie Kidd, but looking more like Tucker Jenkins.

Andrew: For once, I think I’ll stick up for the laboured incorporation of a stunt here. After the way Clegg and Compo have demoralised him for trying to broaden their horizons, Foggy is trying to win their favour while getting a vicarious taste of adventure for himself. He knows the only way to motivate Compo is to dangle Nora in front of him and that Clegg enjoys watching Compo making a tit of himself. Quite canny, really! What I find more difficult to swallow, is the idea that Foggy has a motorbike to hand, and even the vaguest understanding of how to tinker with one!

Bob: Yeah, where DOES Foggy get that bike from? Anyway, Compo is swamped in Crusher’s leathers, and a winged ferret is painted haphazardly onto his crash helmet. You can play Summer Wine bingo with this one!

Andrew: It’s all very familiar. Does Car and Garter ring a bell?

Bob: A lovely scene with Wally in the pub here, mind… I don’t think Joe Gladwin has ever put a foot wrong in this programme. ‘I’m under strict instructions to avoid Tom Fools or unaccompanied women,’ he deadpans, and I laughed my socks off. Nobody says ‘Tom Fools’ any more! Where is all the Tomfoolery? And where does it come from? Hang on…

http://uk.ask.com/question/origin-of-tomfoolery

Andrew: OK, stay with me here, but I think Wally might secretly be an omnipotent super-being. Think about it… he appears at will and disappears almost as soon as he does; and unlike the other characters in this week’s episode, he seems to be totally clued into the fact that the events unfolding are adhering to an unspoken formula. ‘I wish I could help you,’ he says, before Foggy even begins roping him into the scheme.

Bob: I like it! Can we have Wally in a tight jumpsuit with a big ‘W’ on the front of it? Anyone any good with Photoshop? Wally was right, too… the last third of the show is pretty much taken up with pure Tomfoolery. There’s a lot of messing about with that bike.

Andrew: It’s all a bit, ‘let’s throw some pratting about at the wall and home some of it sticks’ this week, isn’t it? Not very co-ordinated at all. Keep your ears open for a suspiciously To The Manor Born-styled musical cue from Ronnie at one point, though!

Bob: Blimey, you’re right! I was expecting Audrey Forbes-Hamilton to come marching over the hill there! Some nice little interludes with Wally and Nora too, as Compo gears up to impress her. ‘You’re spoiling for a fight,’ barks Nora, at the not-entirely-aggressive-looking Wally. ‘There’s no point in bringing you out if you can’t be pleasant’. I really wish we’d had just one episode as a Wally and Nora two-hander. They’re amazing together.

I also was intrigued by the song that Compo sings a snippet of when he’s gearing up for his big stunt. It’s taken a bit of hunting down, but I think he’s singing his own variation on this…

http://monologues.co.uk/musichall/Songs-J/Just-Like-The-Ivy.htm

It’s an old Music Hall favourite, written – as far as I can see – in 1903, so I guess it might have been a favourite from Compo’s childhood? I love these little gems being dropped into the show, they’re SO full of character. I wonder if this example came from Roy Clarke or Bill Owen? I’m going to hazard a guess at the latter… it looks like an adlib.

Andrew: And so to the big climax of the episode… Compo rides the bike straight into a lake, splashing Nora before running away… and she’s not the only thing that’s a bit damp about this ending.

Bob: Yeah, that had some nice lines, but didn’t quite match up to the previous two episodes, which both felt very fresh and funny and broke lots of new ground for Summer Wine. A bit of a mid-season wobble for me!

17 comments

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    July 14, 2016 10:28 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Nick Griffiths

    Must admit I didn’t take to this episode save for the Ivy and Crusher scene which showcases a different side to Ivy (and again to me implies a semi-paternal bond between the two). Maybe this episode was the episode which Brian Wilde felt wasn’t up to scratch.

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      July 15, 2016 4:46 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Yes, Ivy and Crusher are great together – there’s a great chemistry between Jane Freeman and that nice Mr Linsley. The scene in this episode were she spells out to him the dangers posed by Compo, Clegg and Foggy is just lovely… beneath the bluster, she’s clearly got real affection for them all.

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        July 15, 2016 5:16 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Nick Griffiths

        Oh agreed. I think this is showcased in Elegy for Fallen Wellies when Ivy bites her lip and interrupts with dying when aClegg is fretting and later in Just a Small Funeral she (or was it Pearl) puts a reassuring hand on Clegg’s shoulder and asks how he is coping.

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          July 15, 2016 5:41 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          I’ve never seen any of those episodes, and a little bit of me is dreading how difficult to watch I’ll find them… Drew tells me they’re incredibly touching.

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            July 15, 2016 7:55 pmPosted 1 year ago
            Nick Griffiths

            They are really touching, in the funreal episode Ivy is getting ready and out of her purse she pulls out a photo of Sid… I wonder if it was an improvised moment.

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              July 15, 2016 8:26 pmPosted 1 year ago
              Bob Fischer

              Oh gosh, I didn’t know that. That’s a lovely touch. On the face of it, it’s curious how Sid’s absence isn’t mentioned at all in Series 8… but, actually, it’s incredibly true to life. My memories of older relatives in the 1970s and 1980s are of them being utterly unsentimental. You just got on with things. No time for self-pity.

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                July 15, 2016 8:45 pmPosted 1 year ago
                Nick Griffiths

                This may be a false memory but I’m sure in a Seymour episode Ivy and Nora talk about going to the cemetery and not being sure what to as (Sid and Wally) woul6d recognise them talking quite

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    July 14, 2016 11:48 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Austin Hendricks

    Hi Bob and Andrew,

    It is great that you are writing again, I really missed them. In fact I thought you may have dropped the project. Please don”t!

    This ending was a little lame, but I have never seen an episode that did not have me laughing out loud at some point. 30 plus years old or not, the episodes seem timeless to me.

    Thanks again for adding to my enjoyment,
    Austin

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      July 15, 2016 4:47 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Oh, we agree! And thanks for the kind words, Austin… sorry we vanished for a while. We’ll never drop the project, it just sometimes slows down…

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    July 15, 2016 8:11 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Jakob1978

    This is an odd episode, in fact I’d go so far as to say that this entire season feels odd to me. It feels like the bridge between two eras, and doesn’t quite fit in either, if that makes sense (I’m not sure it does but I can’t explain it any better…when I think of Foggys first run, I think of Sid and Ivy together..seeing this Foggy with Crusher (and later Pearl, Howard and Marina) it just feels weird. The next season feels much more confident with the expanded cast fitting in much better. Btw, I say this Foggy, because (and we’ll get to this when you get to later seasons), I really find Foggy when he returns a very different character (a much sadder more pathetic one, but that’s a debate for much later lol)

    Still some good moments though, that exchange between Ivy and Crusher really is the standout moment, though any moment with Nora and Wally (particularly outside with the bike and sidecar) is worth it too 🙂

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    July 15, 2016 8:27 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Chris Orton

    ‘Look at Brian Wilde’s trousers go’ is the great never-made Half-Man, Half-Biscuit song.

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      July 17, 2016 4:42 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Has there ever been a Summer Wine reference in an HMHB lyric? There MUST have been!

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    July 17, 2016 4:10 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Simon Smith

    Wally Batty is a legend in this show. For me it’s supporting characters such as him that can be the highlight of these ‘slightly average’ episodes (and I use this phrase to compare to some of the stronger episodes, they are by no means bad episodes). His delivery is spot on, and so true to life. There are blokes in my old local that would talk exactly like him!

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      July 17, 2016 4:45 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Absolutely. Joe Gladwin had the best comic timing of virtually any comic actor of his generation. Every single line is delivered perfectly, to the mili-second. He’s wonderful.

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        July 24, 2016 9:08 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Nick Griffiths

        I think his line in the Scarborough episodes “I think I’ll go to the Zoo and Marine land…. they fascinate me” is a great moment. It shows that he knows he won’t win but makes a small victory with his dig

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          July 25, 2016 10:44 amPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          Totally! Wally has some great moments in those episodes.

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

          Superb!

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    September 9, 2017 4:47 pmPosted 1 month ago
    Simon S

    I suspect the opening dismays Compo & Clegg because it’s yet another route march for not-good-enough-a-reason. Foggy never gives in to the idea that they’re really not sharing his hobby.

    FOGGY: I try to give you an interest in life!
    COMPO: I’ve got an interest in life!
    FOGGY: This one’s legal…

    And it’s all just to set up Foggy being menaced by track bikes – a rude awakening of the modern world in contrast to the world he often seems to prefer to live in.
    But when Compo shows interest, Foggy is on it like a hawk – but I don’t think he’s doing it to be kind. It’s like hang-gliding or water-skiing – the danger to Compo outweighs the trouble involved.

    Then a rare sight of what is presumably the street Foggy lives on (unsurfaced, for some reason). His red butcher’s apron doesn’t jar (and like Crusher, he prefers to wear his “frock” over his jacket), whilst the casual wielding of a wrench makes this a more serious pursuit than when they all made bicycles.

    How is Nora going to be impressed by a phantom biker when she’s married to a man who drives a motorbike & sidecar already? Her picnic with Wally seems more acerbic than usual.

    And finally, it’s a song and a pratfall for Compo, and a big stunt into the water. Oh well…

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