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Uncle of the Bride


In which Seymour gets all inventive…

Andrew: So it’s an unceremonious goodbye to Foggy…

Bob: …and it’s a warm welcome to Seymour! Another feature-length special introduces the show’s third ‘Third Man’, and I remember this getting an awful lot of press coverage over Christmas 1985. It must have been a strange experience for Michael Aldridge, who’d spent his entire career as a very respected character actor, but wasn’t a huge household name… but suddenly, at the age of 65, he was all over the tabloids.

Andrew: Getting Sam Home was only ever called ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ during the onscreen titles, but here we are rather grandly welcomed to ‘Last of the Summer Wine: Uncle of the Bride’. It’s a tiny little touch to have a title and subtitle appear at the same time like this, but it really does mark out from the beginning that this is different to your average half-hour episode. There’s something grand about it – like seeing Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Nice location work aside, I think that’s where my comparison stops.

Bob: I don’t know, there’s a whiff of Gandalf about Seymour Utterthwaite! You’re right, though… this feels like a sumptuous feature film from the start. And those epic sweeps of Holmfirth, on gorgeous 16mm film, and the smoking chimneys – and the choral arrangement of the theme – transport me to more innocent times. I remember one Boxing Day, as a fresh-faced teenager, cycling down to the bridge over the railway at Aislaby, and looking out over the frost-coated vista of Yarm, the town where I grew up, with the North Yorkshire Moors in the distance. There was an old coal merchant’s yard behind me, a town full of smoking chimneys ahead of me, and barely any traffic on the roads. And I genuinely remember thinking… life won’t be like this for much longer. Everything is changing. But at that moment, it looked exactly like this episode: grey, misty, and with a stark but beautiful bleakness. And, in an odd piece of synchronicity, I’m pretty sure that was Boxing Day 1985. Six days before this episode was broadcast. Thirteen years old, and I was already taking stock of my life.

Andrew: Talking of stock, you’re right; 16mm really is the right film stock for Yorkshire. There’s an honesty to 16mm, which doesn’t wrap up the images it captures in the same false glamour that 35mm can. Technically, 35mm captures a spectrum of visual information that is more akin to what the human eye sees, but I’m convinced that my eyes process in 16mm.

The choral arrangement of the theme is indeed lovely, and I’ll put my cards on the table right now and say that I think the unsung hero of this film is Ronnie Hazlehurst. Let loose with a slightly bigger orchestra and obviously inspired by what he sees on screen, the maestro clearly had a whale of a time working on this. He’s rightfully acknowledged as one of the masters of television theme tunes, but listening to this film really makes me wish he had done more scoring for feature films. Saying that, he still can’t resist the comedy trope of a horn section as we cut to the fulsome posterior of the local post lady.

Bob: These opening scenes are a great statement of ‘Business As Usual’ intent, aren’t they? Soldering on regardless, in the absence of Brian Wilde. Howard is enslaved into domestic duty, Clegg is sarcastic to the post lady, and Nora is cleaning her steps. ‘I’ll show her clean steps,’ she mutters. ‘And not just when company’s coming…’ I wonder who’s upset her? Maybe it’s the same neighbour that was complaining about her having Jimmy Young on too loud a couple of episodes back. By the way, I still share this resolutely Northern attitude to domestic hygiene. I only clean up when I’ve got company coming. Which, luckily, is virtually never.

Andrew: Are you trying to tell me your house had actually been cleaned up the last time I was round? Blimey.

Bob: Everything just gets swept under the rug. Aw, I like Nora’s comment to Rosemary, the fearsome post lady, as they attempt to wake up the hungover Compo to deliver a parcel. ‘You can call all day when they’re in drink’, she complains. ‘In drink’! Roy Clarke’s ear for Northern dialogue – especially amongst ladies of a certain age – remains as sharp as ever.

Andrew: There’s a glimpse of Nora’s softer side coming out here, as well. If there’s one thing Nora would welcome, it would be for Compo to be tucked up in bed rather than outside pestering her, but she’ll put that to one side in order to wake him up because his post has arrived. He may be a scruffy beggar, but he’s her scruffy beggar and she can’t help herself from looking after him.

Bob: The mysterious parcels are finally explained… Compo and Clegg have received decorated eggs from Foggy, who has inherited a decorated egg business in Bridlington. Is the suggestion that they didn’t previously know this? I wonder where they thought he’d gone? Whatever, it’s a nice touch to see Foggy’s artistic bent being put to good use. He was a Corporal Signwriter, after all! And the eggs look genuinely lovely. I like this exchange as well…

Howard: What do you do with them?
Pearl: You don’t do anything with them. They’re for display.
Howard: Oh. Display.

I don’t know if it really exists any more, but – for my parents generation – that gap between the practical and the aesthetic was definitely a sharp cross-gender contrast! I can’t think of many of my dad’s household possessions that don’t have some practical application – tools, or books, or gardening gear. Whereas my mum is always one for a nice ‘ornament’. Do people still have ‘ornaments’ in their houses? Most of my friends have houses filled with action figures. Even the girls. In fact, especially the girls.

Andrew: Compo and Clegg don’t seem quite as lost as they were after Blamire left the scene, but it’s still very odd to see them pottering around as a duo. It left me rather sad, and pining for Foggy, when I saw them walking up to Wesley’s shed without having to be drafted into it!

Bob: Let’s get to the crux of the film… Wesley’s daughter Glenda is getting married to the as-yet unseen Barry, and his wife Edie is fussing over everything – including the means of transport. How has it taken this long to get Thora Hird into Last of the Summer Wine? She’s absolutely made for it, and gives a pitch-perfect performance as Edie. I love that contrast that between her ‘posh voice’ for ‘company’, and the common-as-muck Yorkshire brashness that she reserves for Wesley. Mollie Sugden was a past master at it, too!

Andrew: That’s definitely something that runs in my family. All of the women certainly have ‘telephone voices’ and I’ve seen my Uncle Graham adopt RP for the most lowly of McDonald’s Drive-Thru intercoms. I do it as well, apparently – though Emma tells me I’ve bypassed posh and headed straight into camp.

UOTBfBob: It comes to us all. And so a grumbling Wesley is pressed into service delivering freshly-ironed shirts to Edie’s feckless brother Seymour, with Compo and Clegg coming along for the ride. Wesley is really bitter, isn’t he? Seymour, as we discover, is a fellow tinkerer with engines and motors, so you think they’d have a lot in common… but their differences are clearly drawn along lines of class distinction. Wesley is the down-to-earth working class enthusiast, who clearly thinks his hobby has a practical application. He’s restoring the perfect car to transport his family around, something that will clearly be far better than any of your fancy-dan modern motors, and at half the price. Whereas Seymour is an idle dreamer with a garden full of Heath Robinson inventions, frittering away – we assume – some kind of independent wealth with gay abandon. It’s Roundheads versus Cavaliers all over again.

Andrew: Given how much we’ve already learned about Edie doting on her brother, I think we can read a lot into her relationship with Wesley here. She picked out a man who in some ways reminded her of him, but of course Wesley could never live up to her expectations. That’s bound to breed resentment.

I really like the way in which Seymour is introduced to us as part of the wider ensemble cast. His being the brother-in-law of the pre-established Wesley makes the character instantly feel like part of the landscape. He hasn’t just dropped in from nowhere. It also marks him out as different from both Foggy and Blamire in that he is resolutely not a loner. Even before the characters cross paths, however, Compo hones in on the one character trait that unites all of our ‘third men’ – Seymour is pompous.

Bob: These first scenes with Michael Aldridge just make me dream of an alternate universe early 1970s, where he would have made a great old-school Doctor Who. Tall, wild-haired, and full of plummy-voiced eccentricity and condescention. ‘Who are these… people?’ he splutters, on first sight of Compo and Clegg, and it’s pure Jon Pertwee, battling it out with some faceless Man from the Ministry over a bubbling test tube in UNIT HQ.

I like Clegg’s retort, too. ‘They talk like that in Harrogate,’ he mutters, cementing the resort’s reputation as a Yorkshire town with ideas above its station. Compo, hilariously, has never been there. How far is Holmfirth from Harrogate? 52 miles, according to AA Route Planner. And he’s never been. It’s a lovely evocation of a) Compo’s smalltown attitude, and b) his nose-thumbing attitude to middle-class pretensions. Why would he want to go to Harrogate, and spend time amongst those toffee-nosed twerps?

(NB Disclaimer: Harrogate is actually lovely)

There’s a lovely romantic quality to Seymour; he gets misty-eyed about the school he once commanded, and his army of ‘little men’. How long ago do you think this was? Thirty years? Forty? Like Foggy, he’s stuck in an idealised version of his own past, but – unlike Foggy – he seems to have all but retreated from the modern world. Foggy wanted to impose his archaic values on 1980s Britain, and build it in his own image, but Seymour has just vanished into his own misty-eyed nostalgia. You suspect he doesn’t leave that cottage very often.

Andrew: Ah, but unlike Foggy one gets the impression that Seymour has actually done the things he claims to have done. The character actually has a non-fantasised history, even if he does apply rose-tinted spectacles and overestimates his achievements.

Bob: Great line from Clegg here, too – ‘The trouble with human nature is, it’s in the hands of so many people’. That’s existential philosophy, that is. Jean-Paul Sartre in a flat cap and tweeds.

Andrew: It’s rather odd to see Barry and Glenda introduced here as the young couple about to embark on matrimony. They’ll stick with the show (with one blip) for over thirty years and by the end of it they still feel like the young couple!

Bob: Barry is played with great ponderous drippiness by Mike Grady… who, back in 1985, the whole country knew as Ken from Citizen Smith. He puts in a cracking performance here, lost in a world of his own, where – on the EVE OF HIS WEDDING – his primary concern is: ‘I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve a wheel bearing gone…’ You suspect he’ll get on better with his bride’s father than her mother.

Anyway, this is a lovely ensemble scene between Hird, Grady and Sarah Thomas as Glenda, all bouncing lines off each other with impeccable comic timing.

Andrew: Is there a finer visual than Wally and Nora travelling along through the countryside in a motorbike and sidecar? Oh, yes there is – add a stray whippet into the mix and you have perfection!

Bob: Yes, amidst all the wedding business, there’s a nice sub-plot evolving, with Wally and Nora being followed home by a beautiful black whippet, and Wally – not surprisingly – wanting to keep it! ‘Maybe it’s a wild whippet’, barks Nora. ‘It’s friendlier than you are,’ comes the retort. This has been an episode for warm smiles rather than laugh-out-loud one-liners so far, but that one had me chuckling. As did the resulting clout. I keep saying it, but even just a single two-hander episode, with Staff and Gladwin going hammer and tongs, would have been worth the entrance money alone.

Andrew: Seymour muses about his intellectual heroes James Watt, George Stephenson and… Porky Earnshaw? Is that one for the Names Database? All that we learn about him is that Seymour admires him for some reason. Another local oddball? I love Wesley’s morose and lon- suffering reply to Compo’s assumption that these are the names of Seymour’s mates; ‘They’re not his mates. They’re dead.’

Bob: We’ve talked before about how a running Summer Wine theme is the passage of the years, and the frittering away of our salad days, and yegods – even the ‘young blood’ of Barry has this melancholy attitude in spades! ‘I haven’t got any mates,’ he grumbles, reluctantly contemplating his stag night. ‘We’ve been courting so long, I’ve lost touch with them all’. How old do you think they’re meant to be, Drew? Mike Grady was 39 and Sarah Thomas was 33 when this was filmed, so should we treat ourselves to an extra dose of misery, and assume that Barry and Glenda have been aimlessly courting for a decade or more? The poor sods.

Andrew: I would never have guessed that Mike Grady was pushing 40! I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest they’re both supposed to be around thirty. And what’s wrong with an aimless, decade-long courtship? Actually, it might be worth my asking Emma that…

Bob: It was interesting to read in Alan Bell’s book that Gordon Wharmby was so intimidated by the prospect of acting opposite Thora Hird that he actually made himself ill with nerves. Because they’re fabulous together! ‘You tell me what you think the trouble is with Barry,’ she sneers, seating him gingerly on newspaper at the kitchen table. ‘The lad’s right,’ he sniffs, with perfect timing. ‘It probably is a wheel bearing’. They’re a great double act.

Andrew: And so, with Compo and Clegg commandeered into carrying Wesley’s greasy socket set back to Seymour’s house (Seymour himself, we learn, won’t even drink from a china cup without closely inspecting it for blemishes), we finally to get to see the new trio in full action together.

Something that I like about Seymour’s introduction is that it feels incredibly organic, and I think that’s partly the luxury of having an entire feature film in which to tell the story. Compo and Clegg are subtly drawn into his orbit rather than simply jumping into a guest-character’s scheme, in search of a hurried, slapstick finale. There’s also the fact that this has very clearly been written as a vehicle for Aldridge. Unlike some of Foggy’s early episodes, where one could quite easily have dropped Blamire into his place without issue, the plot of this instalment simply couldn’t exist with Seymour.

Bob: It’s a curious dynamic at first, and I’m not sure that Michael Aldridge quite hits the ground running in the same way that Brian Wilde did. Foggy was a fully-formed and believable character from the very first second we saw him onscreen. But then again, Compo and Clegg were much more established characters in 1985 than they were in 1976, and it would be hard for any actor/character to come into the show and dominate them in the way that the script demands. As such, it’s Compo and Clegg that steal the limelight here. Compo, in particular, treats us to a song that is clearly about to descend into filth…

‘My Auntie Nellie’s got a wooden leg, she caught it in the mangle…’

Andrew: Bill Owen has lots of lovely little bits of comedy business throughout the film. There’s his preparation for a boxing match, his mock swordsman routine, and his pratfall at Seymour’s front door. I wonder how much of this was in the script and how much of it was ‘expanded’ on set by Owen and Alan Bell? It’s all very effortless.

Bob: And Clegg gets a lovely monologue about his own brother-in-law, who ‘smelled of musty hymn books. He was superbly adapted to that decaying chapel. He had the kind of face that really summed up the decline of Christianity’. While Ronnie Hazelhurst’s rendition of Abide With Me swells up behind him. It’s a beautiful, bitter-sweet moment, and it’s interesting to note that a substantial portion of ‘the decline of Christianity’ has happened during the lifetime of this series! Blamire was staunchly Christian, wasn’t he? And even Foggy, in the early years, was seen to have leanings towards church-going. It’s hard to imagine such a character would be introduced in 1985, though.

Andrew: Is this the first mention we’ve had of Clegg’s sister? My memory isn’t what it never was. And, more importantly, look at that bus stop! Set into the ruins of a decrepit stone building – that’s a proper bus stop! Anybody fancy tracking down that location for us? Come on Bob, I know how to show you a good time.

Bob: Am I sensing another Summer Winos locations film in the offing here? Thora Hird’s ‘posh voice’ continues to make me laugh. ‘The raight payple’ indeed. And hey, DEREK WARE KLAXON! Another appearance for the former Doctor Who stuntman, this time as a hapless painter and decorator whose scaffolding tower trundles down the hill at the hands of Seymour. We need to start keeping our eyes open for our mate Stuart Fell here!

Compo, Clegg and Seymour hop on the 325 ‘Metrobus’ to Huddersfield, and – after 45 minutes of being treated like children by Seymour, Clegg pointedly requests ‘One and two halves please’ from the driver. He already knows full well how their relationship is shaping up.

Andrew: And, of course, it’s at this moment that the reason for Derek Ware’s casting is revealed. Having had his scaffolding fiddled with by Seymour, he now comes hurtling past the top deck of the bus before being flung into a river. The advantage of a casting a stuntman in this part, of course, is that you can clearly show his face throughout and Ware does an excellent line in comedy facial expressions. Actually, comedy facial expressions are a running theme with this film; see also Wally’s rare and toothy smile at Nora as he tries to hide the whippet in his jacket, and also be on the lookout for a real humdinger of an expression when Edie finds out that Barry has gone missing.

Bob: Wesley in a suit! Looking awkward! This scene rings incredibly true to me… I am 43 years old, and I have never seen my Dad in a suit. He definitely doesn’t own one. In the incredibly unlikely event of me ever getting married, I’ll frogmarch him off to get fitted up. Bloody hell, though… I really like Compo’s jacket! The green chequered affair that he puts on for the stag night! Drew, you will let me know if I start dressing like Compo, won’t you…?

Andrew: This is one of those moments where you can tell that Ronnie Hazlehurst is enjoying himself. There’s a lovely 1920s ballroom-inspired track that he uses for Seymour getting dressed for the stag do, and it transforms into an equally lovely tramps’ ball-inspired track, for Compo getting ready.

Bob: Don’t tell me you’ve been hanging around tramps’ balls again. Hey, have we been in the White Horse pub, Drew? And did it look like it does in this?

It’s still there…

The White Horse, Holmfirth

Andrew: Alan Bell’s book suggests that the sequence was filmed in the studio rather than on location. If this is the case then they’ve done an excellent job of capturing the layout and spirit of the place. We visited The White Horse on our very first trip to Holmfirth together, when this project was but a glint in our eyes. It was the pub where the only other occupant was a dog. From memory, the layout was pretty much the same, but looking at the website it would appear that they’ve since had a quite radical overhaul…

White Horse 2016I wonder if the owners of the establishment took offence after seeing the final episode? The script isn’t exactly complementary about the place!

Bob: This still has funny lines, but it actually feels more like a proper drama than the show has ever managed before. We see Nora adjusting Glenda’s wedding dress, and reminiscing about her own wartime ceremony, and then Compo and Seymour in the pub, commiserating each other over their absent wives. And suddenly Seymour sparks into life as a believable and sympathetic character! There’s a real sadness to him, much moreso than we got with Blamire or Foggy. He misses his wife and his job so much.

Andrew: Actually, this scene doesn’t work for me at all. Seymour’s story about his ex-wife and the electric oven highlights one of the problems I’ve had with the character on previous viewings. The events he describes have clearly happened to him, but they are very… cartoonish when compared to the existential failings of Blamire and Foggy’s pasts. That is to say, I don’t observe any of the finely-observed human tragedy that I so love from Clarke’s best work. There’s little grounding in reality with his backstory.

Bob: Oh, I think he’s just a florid – and rather drunk – storyteller. I’m warming to Seymour hugely, now. And these later sections in particular really drive home how much the format of the show has now changed… throughout the Blamire and Foggy years, the show was absolutely about the adventures of the main trio, and any supporting characters were met by them in the course of their wanderings. There were rarely any cutaways to scenes that didn’t feature the central threesome. But now… well, they’re everywhere! I’d dare to say that Compo and Clegg aren’t even the main characters in this – we’re cutting frantically between the pub scenes, Edie and Glenda, Wally and his dog, Howard and Marina… it’s all a bit dizzying.

A couple of cracking lines in the midst of all this…

Marina: There’s no substitute for marriage.
Ivy: And believe me, she’s tried…

…made me laugh, as did….

Pearl (to Howard): You should have no problem remembering the name Marina. Just think of it as a place frequented by sailors.

You don’t get sailors used as a signifier for all manner of naughtiness these days, do you? Oh, for the days when you average Jolly Jack Tar had one in every port.

Andrew: I really like the odd way that Ivy treats Crusher during the scene at Edie’s house. She treats him as both a child and as a substitute Sid!

Bob: This is a proper old-school stag night, isn’t it? Half-a-dozen maudlin blokes, sitting in their usual pub, getting increasingly melancholy as the night progresses. On – and this is crucial – THE NIGHT BEFORE THE ACTUAL WEDDING! This doesn’t happen any more, does it? Your modern ‘stag night’ is essentially a foreign holiday that takes place weeks before the ceremony. With no chance whatsoever of the groom regaining consciousness tied, half naked, to a lamppost and screaming ‘But I’m getting married in four hours!’ to bemused passers-by. Did that sort of thing EVER actually happen, outside of British sitcoms? Readers, over to you.

Andrew: Mike Grady as a drunken Barry, with his gormless smile, tucked in chin and blank blinking eyes, really reminds me of Stan Laurel. So much so, that I wonder if he had specifically recently been watching the 1930 short, Blotto. He’s great.

Bob: Michael Aldridge plays a brilliant drunk, too. At first maudlin, and now fired with enthusiasm. ‘I’ve always wanted to run barefoot across the moors by moonlight,’ mumbles the drunken Barry. ‘You shall, you shall!’ proclaims Seymour, with a flourish. He’s like a benevolent Uncle Monty.

Andrew: And, outside the pub, we are treated to a momentous moment; Howard and Marina decide that the best way to hide the true intentions of their meetings is to purchase a pair of bicycles. For better and worse, their cycling is going to become perhaps the longest-running gag in the series.

Bob: Another big laugh from me at Howard’s excuse for skulking in the car park with Marina… ‘I was just showing this lady the difference between Crossply and Radial tyres’. A line clearly inspired by this vintage Public Information Film, ubiquitous on TV in the 1970s and 80s…

And Barry’s gone missing! He’s stuck down a hole in the hills. But I’m more thrilled by the prospect of a lovely Joe Gladwin monologue as Wally walks his new-found dog along a deserted moorland road. And we get a fascinating insight into how he views his life with Nora, which I don’t think we’ve really had before. It’s a life of security for him really, isn’t it? ‘I’ve always felt safe at nights,’ he tells the happy-go-lucky whippet. ‘If we can get you in, she’ll look after you. Once you’re on the staff…’

It’s a lovely scene, and a charming little window into Wally’s soul. Wally’s not just there for downbeat comic relief, he’s a fully-rounded character, and – I think – one of the most underrated British TV characters of all time. Joe Gladwin deserved a leading role in his own sitcom. He’s SO good.

Andrew: Absolutely. This scene is one of a couple coming up that really pulls at my heartstrings. They’re so gentle, and melancholic, and just plain lovely. We’ve mentioned before that Christmas might bring out Clarke’s crankier side, so I wonder if weddings encourage his softer side to emerge. On the way to the wedding, Nora realises that she quite misses Wally now that she has bullied him out of sight, and in turn, this prompts an unexpected aside from Ivy that reduces me to jelly.

Bob: Blimey, yes… Ivy’s talking to Nora about how much she misses Sid. It’s the first time that Sid’s death has been acknowledged in the show, and it’s a lovely piece of writing and performance. ‘It’s the things that irritate that you miss the most,’ she ponders. ‘I miss mine every day. I go to that cemetery twice a week. You daren’t talk above a whisper. He never will feel at home if I’m not there raising my voice’.

It’s totally unexpected, but you’re right, Drew… I tend to find that big family occasions like that really do bring out the wistfulness in people. At every wedding I’ve ever been to, there’s a trace of sadness because ‘Your grandma would have loved this…’, or something similar. Glasses are raised, and lumps are in throats. And this is no different.

Andrew: I’ll confess now that I didn’t pick up on any of this upon first viewing, and I think that’s largely down to my dipping in and out of the series at random. Watching the series in order has really connected me to the characters in a way that I never expected, and I can only assume this was also the case for a proportion of the audience viewing at home, at the time. I feel like I know these people, and I miss them when they leave.

Bob: Everyone is going to the wedding, aren’t they? It’s a real gathering of the Summer Wine clans. This has been a very clean, and family-friendly episode, but this exchange made me laugh out loud…

Howard: You’ve just crushed a whole packet of cigarettes!
Pearl: I know what I will crush, one of these days.
Howard: My favourite filter tip.
Pearl: That’s the one…

Andrew: Having been told by Ivy to look for a girl who has had a hard time in life, Crusher comes to the rescue when Marina snaps a heel. They make a great visual double act, and I hope this little frisson of attraction is investigated further, but my continuity alarm is now sounding. Previously we had assumed that Marina and Clegg’s hinted-at back story was a reference to the popular Last of the Summer Wine stage play, but in said play wasn’t Marina introduced as Crusher’s girlfriend? As they appear to be locking lustful eyes for the first time here, that’s that theory out of the window!

Bob: Is this the church where Sam – of Getting Sam Home fame – was buried too? Yes, it clearly is. The Holy Trinity Church, in Hepworth. That’s a nice touch.

Hepworth Church

With Clegg having reversed Seymour’s car into the pond, and Barry brought to the church in a motorised wheelbarrow, Compo and Clegg are officially recruited to ‘The Utterthwaite Team’. They’re clearly thrilled to be part of a trio again, and there’s a lovely little cheesy grin from Clegg. I remember, back in Foggy’s first episode, us speculating that a little of their delight at Foggy’s appearance had seeped in from real life too, from genuine relief that Blamire’s disappearance didn’t mark the end of the show, and that Brian Wilde was clearly going to be a hugely successful new recruit. I get the same impression here… the feeling probably helped enormously by the fact that Michael Aldridge was, so everyone seems to say, one of the nicest men you’d ever hope to meet.

Andrew: In another moment of unexpected heart, Nora agrees to let Wally keep his whippet. And when Seymour offers to escort her into into the church, there’s also a lovely line in which she asserts her ownership of Wally…

Nora: Take your unwanted arm away before me husband sees you. He may be covered in whippet hairs, but he is mine, and it is his arm I shall be entering on.

Wally, of course, has obliviously wandered off, leaving Compo with the opportunity to cop a feel.

Bob: Oh, we should have had a cheeky ‘You Have Been Watching’ over these end credits! Every character gets a little chance to shine once again as the theme tune swells – it’s almost like a curtain call, reinforcing the fact that this is a reinvented show, and the new ensemble cast are all now firmly in place, and they mean business. Previous changes in the show have felt gradual, and part of a natural evolution, but this really does now feel like a clean sweep, and a fresh start.

Andrew: Upon first viewing, I didn’t particularly care for this film, but I think that was because I’d watched it back-to-back with Getting Sam Home and expected it to be more of the same. Instead, what we have is a beautiful piece of ensemble writing in which absolutely every character has a chance to shine, and one in which there is an unexpected amount of sheer warmth.

Bob: Yes, it’s a lovely, warm-hearted film. It doesn’t have the gritty, black humour of Getting Sam Home, but I enjoyed the gentle eccentricity of it. And Michael Aldridge did very well, easing himself unobtrusively into the role rather than storming in and stealing scenes. Such a generous and likeable actor. It’s like a Yorkshire Ealing Comedy.

35 comments

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    August 31, 2016 9:09 pmPosted 11 months ago
    Nick Griffiths

    From the outset Aldridge makes a lasting mark and there is certainly more warmth between this trio then the previous two. Funnily enough Seymour was my first Third man and as such as always been my favourite…. I wonder if the adage attached to Who and Bond applies to Summer Wine?

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      September 1, 2016 8:42 amPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      Ha, I suspect so! It’s odd with Seymour… I think there’s a real animosity between him, Compo and Clegg throughout most of this episode, but it very quickly dissipates.

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      September 1, 2016 10:15 amPosted 11 months ago
      Jakob1978

      I completely agree with the feeling that there’s more warmth between is trio than with Foggy. It’s especially noticeable later on. It maybe the external influence of Aldridge (who everyone seems to agree was a delightfully warm and welcoming person), but the scenes of the three together throughout this era, are some of my favourite moments.

      Despite Seymour being more upper class, quite often he seems to embrace the lifestyle of Compo and Clegg much more than Foggy (there’s a lovely scene in a later episode where they’re playing cricket on a bit of wasteland with a homemade bat and some rolled up rags/socks. Previously it’d be all about Foggy trying to get them fit, but in this one it’s just a throwaway scene where they’re just having fun)

      This version of the theme is one of my favourites, I love the choral bit. I’ll always love the versions with lyrics, but of the nonlyric ones, this is the best.

      The first few episodes of S9, are a bit “invention of the week”, but the series settles down very quickly. It’s worth keeping a note on how quickly Clarke rewrites history so that Seymour was an old schoolmate who went off to grammar school and lost touch with everyone. It’s not the last time that he’ll do this.

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        September 1, 2016 10:45 amPosted 11 months ago
        David Brunt

        Did that rewriting history occur before ‘First of the Summer Wine’ came along at the start of 1988?

        Although he’d have probably been developing and writing episodes of both series in 1986/7, so they would have cross-pollinated.

        My memory is that it wasn’t obvious they’d previously known Seymour until ‘First’ came along.

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          September 1, 2016 11:09 amPosted 11 months ago
          Jakob1978

          Its pretty quick. The third episode “Dried Dates and Codfanglers” has the trip talking about school, with Seymour joining in on reminiscing. Then he says “I was damned glad to get to Grammar School” and by the last episode of S9 “When you take a Good Bite, Yorkshire Tastes Awful” broadcast in March 87, When talking about Bill Henry at school, Seymour says “Oh that was him. I rather lost touch when I went to grammar school”.

          Of course, then First of the Summer Wine comes along to contradict even that, having him as a young adult working in the Co-Op with Clegg.

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            September 1, 2016 2:57 pmPosted 11 months ago
            Nick Griffiths

            I’m not sure it totally contradicts it aa such as they rarely talk about the gap between school and the war as they don’t ever mention Sherbert either.

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              September 1, 2016 3:28 pmPosted 11 months ago
              David Brunt

              I wonder if Sherbert is the school friend they mentioned in passing as dying in a foreign field. Whatever episode it was.

              The name they gave him there could be his real name.

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                September 1, 2016 6:08 pmPosted 11 months ago
                Bob Fischer

                Little Tommy Naylor, lying dead in a field in Africa? It’s from Getting Sam Home. I remember seeing a suggestion previously that that might have been Sherbert, and it’s a theory I love. Thinking about it, it was probably you that suggested it…

                We’ll ask Roy Clarke about it sometime. 😉

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                  September 6, 2016 1:04 amPosted 11 months ago
                  Nick Griffiths

                  Have a feeling it may have been myself who vocalise that idea

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    August 31, 2016 9:26 pmPosted 11 months ago
    Simon Smith

    Like you Drew I found this episode only average at first, but viewed in the bigger picture of the series so far makes it more enjoyable.
    Interesting to read in Alan Bell’s book about the issues caused by Gordon Wharmby becoming ill. Watching the episode before knowing this you couldn’t tell. However it’s clear where a double has been used. Poor bloke, I can imagine going from being a painter and decorator to starring alongside Thora Hird would be amazing but hugely daunting!

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      September 1, 2016 8:43 amPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      He should have just slapped a bit of emulsion over her! The poor bloke, they’re brilliant together – he really had nothing to worry about.

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        September 2, 2016 12:50 amPosted 11 months ago
        Jakob1978

        They work so well together..in fact, they have one of my favourite exchanges in the whole of the series in this, when Nora says to Glenda that men don’t remember much about weddings, Edie says to Wesley “Don’t you remember my wedding dress”, and Gordon Wharmby replies with perfect timing and a natural comedic rhythm “Be fair woman, you only wore it the once!”. For some reason that always has me creased up with laughter.

        Until I’d read the Andrew Vine book, then Alan Bells more detailed account, i would never have noticed that Wes!ey had to be written out of scenes and doubles used. Even now the rewriting is so seamless and the use of doubles so well done, that it’s really only in one scene where I think (once you know about it) that it’s pretty obvious, and that’s right at the end when Wesley leads Glenda into the church, and it’s c!early not Gordon Wharmby.

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    August 31, 2016 10:09 pmPosted 11 months ago
    David Brunt

    Crusher’s girlfriend in the play was a punk rocker named Gloria.

    Marina was … well, pretty much as seen on screen.

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      September 1, 2016 9:43 pmPosted 11 months ago
      Jonathan Linsley

      Glenda was her name, played by Lucy Aran and then by Caroline Dennis, Crusher was a bakers boy, and also a punk rocker with ripped jeans and safety pins. 🙂

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        September 2, 2016 4:39 pmPosted 11 months ago
        Jakob1978

        In the last episodes entry I shared a clipping I’d found of a review of the first run of the play at Eastbourne in 1983, which featured a photo of Peter, Bill and Lucy Aran as Glenda.

        I’ve found another review, also from “the stage” of the second run at Bournemouth in 1984, with another photo, basically the same setup of shot, this time with Peter, Bill and Caroline Dennis. Again, feel free to share on the Facebook page if you want 🙂

        http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz257/jakob1978/LotSW/PSX_20160902_173133_zpshq9kovdw.jpg

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    September 1, 2016 8:38 amPosted 11 months ago
    Chris Orton

    Nothing wrong with a long, aimless courtship. I managed to wring it out for thirteen years before the inevitable.

    We now have ornaments.

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      September 1, 2016 8:40 amPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      You wrung it out for thirteen years and then finally tied the knot? The mind boggles…

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        September 1, 2016 8:43 amPosted 11 months ago
        Chris Orton

        Yes, it does come across as a bit filthy now that I read it back.

        I think for me, that this was the period where the show started to sort of drop off a little. I really like Michael Aldridge, but something about LotSW beyond this point started to feel a little bit… routine in a way. Invention of the week, revolving cast etc. It never quite felt the same to me.

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          September 1, 2016 8:52 amPosted 11 months ago
          Bob Fischer

          It’s the period when I started to drift away from watching it regularly, but – with hindsight – I think that was mainly to do with the advance of my teenage years. I was 13 when Uncle of the Bride was broadcast, and 14 by the time the next regular series came around. I just wasn’t THAT into watching TV with my parents any more.

          I wonder if it’s a bit of ‘Doctor Who Fan Syndrome’… the show always ‘went downhill’ after whichever era was being broadcast when the viewer was about 12.

          We’ve watched a lot of Seymour episodes now (reviews to come, naturally!) and there are some belters ahead.

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            September 1, 2016 8:56 amPosted 11 months ago
            Chris Orton

            I think that you’ve hit on something there with the ‘Doctor Who Fan Syndrome’ thing. I was of a similar age at the time, although like a DW fan I have a feeling that I kept on watching LotSW anyway.

            My Dad was (and still is) a big fan, and part of the watching of the show was to watch it specifically with him.

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    September 1, 2016 12:13 pmPosted 11 months ago
    Jakob1978

    As an aside, where are you sourcing the Radio Times cuttings? I’ve been spending time at Newcastle City Library, and they have a full collection of TV Times (I’ve been looking through the 1991 onwards ones for articles about LotSW, and enjoying the nostalgia of the xmas issues). Sadly they don’t have collections of Radio Times that I can see.

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      September 1, 2016 12:25 pmPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      They’re mine! I’ve been buying old Christmas editions on eBay for years. I know, I know…

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        September 1, 2016 12:37 pmPosted 11 months ago
        Jakob1978

        Haha, I can’t say anything…it sounds like exactly the sort of thing I’d do 🙂

        Looking through the bound books of TV times on the top floor of the library, it’s fascinating. Particularly the Christmas editions.

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        September 1, 2016 12:37 pmPosted 11 months ago
        David Brunt

        I’ve got the best part of 67 years worth of them…

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    September 1, 2016 3:05 pmPosted 11 months ago
    Nick Griffiths

    I owned the BBC video release of this one and one of the things which I recall being a bit odd was that it had a U rating wheras all the other episodes were PG.
    Your comments about Howard’s favourite filtered tip and Marina being a place frequented by Sailors reminded me of this, plus the continual use of called everyone a pillock strikes me as being a bit off a U.

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      September 1, 2016 6:06 pmPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      I’m never sure whether ‘pillock’ counts as swearing or not! Where does it come from? Is it Shakespearean? It’s a great word regardless.

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      • September 1, 2016 6:25 pmPosted 11 months ago
        Nick Griffiths

        I’m not sure if it does now.. certainly at school the word pillock was censored by my English and Drama teachers when I included it plays/stories.

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    September 1, 2016 4:43 pmPosted 11 months ago
    kathie pardy

    Was actually gonna watch this episode last night, but felt it was a bit too late. So I will watch tonight and read your commentaries. Love what you guys are doing!! Keep it up!

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      September 1, 2016 6:05 pmPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      Aw, thanks Kathie! Let us know your thoughts on Uncle of the Bride when you’ve seen it.

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    September 1, 2016 5:42 pmPosted 11 months ago
    nina marie simpson moyer

    Instead of Clegg having a sister to have a brother in law, possibly it was Mrs Cleggs brother.

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    September 2, 2016 5:07 amPosted 11 months ago
    Frankymole

    I love that Radio Times, including the Timewatch bit. “Modern phone-tapping scandals”, eh? Thank goodness nothing like that happens now.

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    September 2, 2016 3:54 pmPosted 11 months ago
    monkeybeard

    I’m loving watching along with your reviews. I was seven when this episode first aired and like others have said, Seymour was my first third man. Been waiting to see when the ensemble appear and this episode certainly kicks off my era.

    Looking forward to revisiting from now on, where as previously I was visiting episodes for the first time.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

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      September 2, 2016 6:30 pmPosted 11 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      Ah, thankyou! Looking forward to having you along for the ride. We’ve got some really exciting stuff planned for the website over the next few weeks…

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