Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 8 Episode 6: Who's Looking After the Café, Then?

Series 8 Episode 6: Who's Looking After the Café, Then?


In which Foggy bids his farewells… (except he doesn’t)

Bob: What a beautiful sight to start the show… I know the show’s title isn’t to be taken especially literally, but I always feel like its soul truly resides in these drowsy, melancholy days of late summer… when the brambles are starting to ripen and the first mists appear in the meadows. And here we are, amidst tumbledown haystacks and a grumbling sky! It’s a time of year that I’ve always loved, tinged with melancholy for the end of the holidays, and secret excitement about the start of the new school year. I grew up in an old farming cottage next to an expanse of wheat fields, and climbing on the haystacks during the final weeks of August was an evocative annual ritual for me and my friends.

Andrew: I know I keep banging on about Alan Bell’s staging and direction, but this opening scene really is something special. In one take, we track back from the landscape to reveal two sets of feet, then we track back even further to reveal who those feet belong to, and to reveal Compo in the foreground. Then, as Compo continues to speak, the camera pushes forwards and rotates 180°, all the while remaining focused on Bill Owen. All of this in one continuous shot that lasts over three minutes and that’s captured on film during a dialogue heavy scene, on location, up a hill in the Holme Valley… in a BBC sitcom. I can’t stress how technically difficult this would potentially have been to pull off, and I can’t quite figure out how it was actually done. I can only imagine they used a crane. Alan Bell, if you’re out there, please get in touch!

Bob: Names Database Alert! Compo has seen Charlie Parblow in town. Foggy remembers him as a ‘tall lad… wore glasses… use to give the pencils out in 3C. Seemed to have a permanent discharge from his ear. Kept poking about at it with 3C’s pencils’. How many of these unseen schoolmates were based on characters from Roy Clarke’s own childhood, do we reckon?

Andrew: Oh, there has to be a grain of truth to most of them… and what a memory he must have!

Bob:  There’s a nice bit of class war here, too! Charlie Parblow is clearly – as my Mum would say – ‘a bit up himself’ and, Compo reveals in a Lord Snooty voice, has ‘just retired from office management’.

‘Peace at last,’ sniffs Clegg. ‘He’s no longer giving the pencils out’. Oh, I love their disdain for the self-regarding mores of the lofty executive world! Yes, when it comes to the crunch, it’s ALL just giving the pencils out. ‘He’s got a bit tucked away in a eunuch’s truss,’ deadpans Compo, which made me laugh so loud I scared the dog from his armchair. And these were the days when the humble truss (and its accompanying ruptures) was the very lifeblood of TV comedy! When was the last time anyone got a laugh out of a truss? Do they even exist any more, or is hernia technology now 4G downloadable? You can probably get an App to keep your unmentionables in place.

Andrew: Wesley appears from over the hill to the sound of deafening rock music and the trio are, of course, keen to bum a lift. I love how relaxed the interactions between Compo and Wesley are. Despite Compo’s disapproval of the music, they’re clearly kindred spirits. On a performance level, I find their relationship really interesting, because on the one hand you have the experienced and actually quite refined Bill Owen acting his socks off to convince as a scruffy oik; and on the other you have the relatively inexperienced yet brilliant Gordon Wharmby feeling like he was just simply born into the part.

Bob: That defeaning rock music is clearly taken from a ‘ROCK STARS RIFFAGE’ BBC library music album, too – I don’t recognise it, and I know my way around a screaming axe solo. I like the fact that Wesley is a devout heavy rock fan, it’s a nicely unexpected little character touch.

Andrew: And one that I don’t think will ever come up again!

Bob: Oh, there are OTHER PEOPLE in the café! That actually looks a bit weird. Although I had started to wonder how Ivy kept the business alive, seeing as Compo, Clegg and Foggy seemed to be her only customers. And they only ever bought three teas.

Andrew: Ivy is preparing to head off somewhere, but where? It’s hard to imagine what would be important or alluring enough to tempt her away from her natural habitat behind the counter.

Bob: Is the Names Database cooling down? Crank it up again! Clegg reckons Ivy looks ‘just like my missus used to look on the days that the Rev Garth Winstanley BA was due to call. He’d chat confidently about the Lord and eat fruitcake’. Oh, this is worthy of Alan Bennett. I absolutely believe in these people, in a man so proud of his degree (I hope it was a 2:2 in Theology from some minor university) that he continued to use it as a title for his entire adult life. I’m going to start being Bob Fischer BA. I want it at the start of all my entries on this website.

Andrew: I always feel that BPBW (Blue Peter Badge Winner) is just as valid an addendum to any respectable name. I really enjoy Crusher’s interactions with the customers during this sequence. Jonathan Linsley is on brilliant form, walking the fine line between intimidating and cuddly.

Bob Fischer BA: Yes, he’s  great… he has a fabulous rapport with Jane Freeman, they work so well together.  So Ivy is going away for the day, she doesn’t trust Crusher to run the café, and she’s delegating to… Mr Crabtree! I’m fascinated by Mr Crabtree, who is he? Up until this point, Ivy seems to have had utter disdain for the entire male population of the planet… but it doesn’t apply to Mr Crabtree! He’s a dapper, prissy-looking little man, and she clearly respects him enormously. Let the speculation commence! Drew, who IS Mr Crabtree, and what does he mean to Ivy? Come on! Come on! You’re talking to a man with a 2:2 in… etc.

Andrew: OK, my guess is that Sid and Ivy went on a daytrip decades ago and popped into an establishment operated by Mr. Crabtree. Ivy was dubious at first, but was won over by his charm and organisational skills. Sid, of course, thought Crabtree was a bit of a ponce and grew to resent the man as the years went by, with Ivy bringing his name up every time she needed an example of the kind of man Sid should aspire to be. There. How’s that for fan fiction?

Bob: We definitely need a section on the website. By the way, I’m bored with my degree now. I’m going back to being ‘umble.

I’d also like to point out that Mr Crabtree is played by Gil Morris, who was Zaphod Beeblebrox’s private braincare specialist Gag Halfrunt in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where he delivers the immortal line ‘Vell… Zaphod’s just zis guy, you know?’ A series also directed by Alan Bell! Which, I assume, is how he ended up in this. These were the days when TV directors hired their own casts, and often went for trusted actors that they’d worked with previously.

Andrew: Mr Crabtree is put out action by a stray piece of luggage that topples from the car roof of Ivy’s dissatisfied customers. By the way, do we think they count as another prototype for Keeping Up Appearances’ Hyacynth and Richard?

Bob: Oh yes, indeed! There have been a few now, haven’t they? Roy Clarke loves his ‘ladies with pretentions’ married to grounded, downtrodden husbands. I suppose Edie and Wesley aren’t a million miles away, either.

And awww… another Wally and Nora cutaway. The Battys almost seem to have their own sitcom within a sitcom now, and these little inserts are never unwelcome.

Andrew: Do we have any musically inclined readers out there? If so, I want to make a commission. Surely the world needs to hear the hypothetical theme tunes for both the non-existant ‘Sid and Ivy’ and the ‘Nora and Wally’ sitcoms. Also, what would they have been called? I’m on a speculative roll now!

Bob: Wally is being reluctantly fitted for a new suit, and – in a marvellous bit of continuity – the man breathing warmly on the end of the tape measure is Mr Fairburn, the Co-op tailor from Getting Sam Home! Lesser sitcoms wouldn’t have bothered getting the same actor back for such a short scene (David Williams barely has a line), and I’m sure 99% of the audience won’t even have noticed. But, watching these shows in order, it creates a real sense of verisimilitude, and a feeling that this town and these people truly exist. In real life, you don’t see the people you know all the time, you might just bump into them once every couple of years. And Summer Wine is exactly like that.

Andrew: Both Clarke and Bell must have liked Williams, because I’m thrilled to tease you with the fact that this isn’t the last time we will encounter him on our journey through the series.

The tailor’s shop, however, isn’t the same Co-op location that we saw in Getting Sam Home. Can anybody with a better head for geography figure out where we are in relation to Holmfirth? There’s a nice clear view out of the window if we’re looking for clues.

Bob: Joe Gladwin has one line in every episode that pretty much steals the show. Here’s this weeks…

Nora: I’m fed up with me taking you out in your old suit.
Wally: We could go out less…

The dog had only just settled back on his armchair.

Andrew: Every line that Wally utters in relation to his new suit is golden. The way in which Gladwin can mine a a phrase like, ‘It’s a very popular material’ for such world-weary resignation is a wonder to behold.

Bob: So, with the dapper Mr Crabtree run over by departing customers, our main trio – and Crusher – take over the running of the café themselves, against Ivy’s will. Compo has a large box of Walker’s Crisps, which is disappointing, as Walkers are by far the inferior brand to the prominent Seabrooks varieties we saw in Series 7.

Andrew: You’re not still hoping for that sponsorship deal, are you?

Bob: At least I’m honest about my proclivities. A mere five episodes after Foggy steals a foot measure from a shoe-shop, we’re now faced with Compo surreptitiously pocketing the payment for a rather nasty-looking ham salad! This lot aren’t safe to be let out onto the streets! Ivy was right not to trust them, and would never have had this trouble with Mr Crabtree. He looked like a nice man. But it is nice to have a reminder that Compo’s not always a harmless pest… back in 1973, he could quite a selfish, vindictive little character, and a bit of that unpleasantness still lingers on.

Andrew: There are few more reliable staples of slapstick comedy than a set of step ladders and a plank of wood. Obviously things don’t go as Foggy has planned, so he has to commandeer Wesley’s van, as Compo and Cleff take to the roof in order to clean the café’s sign. Can I sense the payoff to Wesley’s sudden liking for deafening rock music approaching?

Bob: Yes, of course! And, as Doctor Who fans, I think we’re within our rights to point out a slightly dodgy bit of Colour Sepration Overlay as Compo finds himself stranded on top of Wesley’s van, surfing his way through the streets of Holmfirth as ROCK GUITAR RIFF #27 pounds out of the car stereo. Chased by Crusher and the gang… oh, it’s like Bullitt. Except Steve McQueen didn’t end up in a haystrack with Howard and Marina.

Andrew: It’s a well earned slapstick payoff, but surely the highlight has to be Compo sneaking a peek at a disrobing Nora Batty. I also feel it is my pedantic duty to point out that Wesley’s route through the town once again adheres to real world geography. Even the CSO background plate matches up! Oh, and is that our friend Stuart Fell standing in for Bill Owen?

Bob: Surely! Well, that was good fun, with more cracking dialogue. And no indication at all that it was Brian Wilde’s swansong, so I assume at the time of filming that he was still undecided on doing the following series? Of course, we both know that, in reality, he was only away for a handful of years, but – as far as we knew at the time – Foggy had left the show for good, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t get a proper goodbye here.

Andrew: It’s not a proper farewell, but at least his character is on top form here. Rather than seriously attempt to run the café, it’s more like he, Compo, and – to a lesser extent – Clegg, are playing at shop. Foggy is only interested in the situation because he gets to wear a nice striped apron and boss people around.

Bob: I think we have to give a big mention to Brian Wilde here, who came into an already-established show and played a huge part in transforming it from respected sitcom to national sensation. Foggy is a brilliant character, perfectly written by Roy Clarke, but – in the hands of a lesser actor – could have seemed little more than a figure of fun. But Wilde made Foggy feel absolutely real… I believe totally in this forlorn, deluded man; clinging onto his fantasies of military glory because his real day-to-day life has been too mundane and meaningless for him to accept as reality. He’s a sad, unmarried old man, and he has to invent justification for that… and it’s a testament to Wilde that, sitting in the middle of this Wilter Mitty-style web of self-deceit, Foggy is so damn likeable as well. He’s one of the sitcom greats.

Andrew: He had a lousy taste in scripts, though, didn’t he? I just can’t get over the fact that he considered the scripts for this series were below par. I think this has easily been the most consistently excellent run of the series so far, with a far more satisfying blend of character and physical comedy than we have seen previously.

 

28 comments

  • Visit site
    August 9, 2016 10:15 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Nick Griffiths

    Here’s a funny thing I vaguely remember this episode from when I was a Child but I was convinced this was a Seymour episode and I was quite surprised to watch it again and see it was Foggy. Curiously enough I have no recollection of Milburn at all or Wally Batty.

    I wonder if it was the sudden influx of new characters and setting up of running gags which Wilde objected to. It is an odd final episode for him for now, but maybe that works in its favour. If you think if us the viewer as visitors who pop up every nine months it works that people come and go seemingly without a mention.

    Reply
  • Visit site
    August 9, 2016 10:40 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Jakob1978

    This is a cracking little episode. Once again though, it’s Joe Gladwin who steals the show. Love those scenes with Nora in the shop.

    Wesleys love of loud Rock music in the land rover disappears for now, but I’m sure it occasionally reappears in the 90s (and never story related as I recall, it’s just thrown in).

    I’m looking forward to your rewatch of the Seymour years, it’s up there among my favourite periods of the series.

    Reply
    • Visit site
      August 10, 2016 9:28 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Cheers Jakob! We’ll be onto Uncle of the Bride in a fortnight, we’ve got a little special extra treat lined up for next week’s entry…

      Reply
  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 7:40 amPosted 1 year ago
    Keith Davies

    It says on Wikipedia he left to pursue other projects. But you could read anything into that

    Reply
  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 7:52 amPosted 1 year ago
    Jonathan Linsley

    Reading this review reminded me of an incident that happened right at the end of the episode when we chased the Landrover and Compo was thrown into the haystack. I was told to drive the 2 CV as close to the wall above the hay as possible, which i did with great skill, but sadly not before the nearside front half shaft snapped and the wheel fell off. That was the end of my car and any more shots in that episode of us chasing. By the way the street scenes of the chase were all shot in Marsden. for those of you keen on LOTSW geography. PS i am a Blue Peter Badge Holder as well as a BA, but i dont like to brag about that!

    Reply
    • Visit site
      August 10, 2016 9:31 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Superb! Did the BBC Health and Safety bods have a field day? Or did they not exist in 1985?

      I’m thinking of you as Jonathan Linsley BA BPBW from now on. 🙂

      Reply
  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 8:02 amPosted 1 year ago
    Andy Lawson

    I’ve so many fond memories of this episode, and in all the times I’ve seen it I don’t think I’d realised it was the final time we saw Foggy, before he went off to paint eggs.

    For me this period of the shows history really was when it was at its peak, and although I am glad when Foggy returns, Seymour Utterthwaite and co all keep the magic coming throughout.

    I still smile everytime I see this episode appear on TV!

    Reply
  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 8:07 amPosted 1 year ago
    Simon Smith

    Best episode of the series in my view. Crusher feels like he’s been part of the gang for years. Dialogue as sharp as ever.

    Reply
  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 9:39 amPosted 1 year ago
    Chris Orton

    I do love the idea of Wally “being fitted” for a suit. Nora views this sort of thing as a similar procedure to having a room wallpapered, or seeing if an item of furniture will fit in a room.

    And I too lament the loss of directors casting their own work. No more will we ever see anything like the Douglas Camfield rep company… 🙁

    Reply
    • Visit site
      August 10, 2016 9:47 amPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Drew and I were browsing around online yesterday, and wondering if writers had a bit of input, too… as it’s a rare Roy Clarke series that doesn’t have Tony Haygarth in it somewhere!

      Reply
      • Visit site
        August 10, 2016 9:52 amPosted 1 year ago
        Nick Griffiths

        Funny you should say that, I think Philip Hinchcliff mentioned that he sometimes thought Robert Holmes wrote with certain actors in mind naming Deadly Assassin as a case in point as Bernard Horsfell looked “like a romantic version of Bob.”

        Reply
        • Visit site
          August 10, 2016 10:25 amPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          Ha! I love that. So I wonder if any Summer Wine characters were written with specific actors in mind?

          Reply
          • Visit site
            August 10, 2016 3:52 pmPosted 1 year ago
            Jakob1978

            From Alan Bells book – “Roy Clarke doesn’t usually get involved with casting. He writes the characters and leaves it to me”. Though this is followed by him talking about how Roy specifically wanted Bert Kwouk to be cast in an episode.

            I can’t imaging that they didn’t discus casting, but I wonder if a lot of the cross fertilisation of actors across BBC comedy series is more to do with the acting profession being a lot more compartmentalised in those days. They tended to get pigeonholed as Comedy actors and Drama actors..I think typecasting happened a lot more in those days than now, where an actor can go from a Soap, to a comedy to a drama and no one bats an eyelid.

            Reply
            • Visit site
              August 10, 2016 4:27 pmPosted 1 year ago
              Bob Fischer

              Yes, that’s true. Cheers for that Jakob – interesting to see. We had a little chat with Bobby Ball last week (NAMEDROP! CLANG!) who said it was definitely Alan Bell that came to see him and Tommy live, and ultimately cast them.

              Reply
              • Visit site
                August 10, 2016 10:04 pmPosted 1 year ago
                Nick Griffiths

                It is probably fair to say Clarke rarely wrote with an A Tor in mind, but the times he did…

                Barry Ingleton was intentionally written for Norman Wisdom

                Reply
                • August 11, 2016 6:57 amPosted 1 year ago
                  George White

                  Billy Ingleton, Billy.

                  Reply
                  • August 11, 2016 9:40 pmPosted 1 year ago
                    Nick Griffiths

                    Ah yes quite right. Barry Ingleton was a guy in my Maths class when I was in year 7

                    Reply
  • Visit site
    August 10, 2016 9:42 amPosted 1 year ago
    Nick Griffiths

    Looking at it now it is funny how we have a throw back to the dirty seedy Compo of the early days as I feel that this could have been fitted in the Blamire years without raising too many eyebrows. I could certainly see Cyril pompously barking around orders to Compo, even more so then Foggy. Though the key difference would probably be it would be Cyril thrown into the Haystack.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2016 9:47 pmPosted 1 year ago
    George White

    Bernard Horsfall looks like a romantic version of my dad too.

    Excuse me, Bob, do you still know Johnny Hazlewood’s real alter ego? I’m sure he could rustle up a theme or two for Sid and Ivy and Wally and Nora.

    David Williams is a good dependable solid Northern actor. He’s done Corrie several times (including as the Mayor of Weatherfield, most recently he played a lollipop man character who replaced a suspiciously similar but different lollipop man played by Robert Fyfe), had a memorable little part in the League of Gentlemen, and of course inadvertently gave us David Walliams.

    RE casting: I think there is still some activity that directors have in casting, ie Graeme Harper still uses Colin Spaull, but it’s mostly the Andy Pryors of this world who serve as advisors.

    Reply
    • Visit site
      August 10, 2016 10:46 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Johnny Hazlewood’s… alter ego? He’s real!

      Reply
      • August 11, 2016 6:57 amPosted 1 year ago
        George White

        Yes, but he#s gone on the run, hasn’t he?

        Reply
  • Visit site
    August 15, 2016 7:56 pmPosted 1 year ago
    DJ Turnill

    Watching an episode LSW today on Freeview with Joe Gladwin
    and Crusher. I do miss Crusher….. The weight loss could
    have been explained with Ivy having him on short rations whilst learning
    the trade.
    Also a young Glenda saying to Barry that he looks quite handsome
    with his eyes shut had me making up my own joke without even thinking…
    is that allowed…… Do you want Chips with that vinegar Barry ?

    Was there a studio audience in your time Jonathan ??

    Reply
  • Visit site
    August 21, 2016 6:51 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Jakob1978

    Thought this might be interesting to you and other readers. Here’s the review, from The Stage newspaper, of the first summer season of the LotSW play at Eastbourne, dated August 11th 1983

    http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz257/jakob1978/LotSW/569B3838-0C44-4B83-B67B-7C8A03941D69_zpsayyequbr.jpeg

    http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz257/jakob1978/LotSW/FEC25BE8-348E-4DFA-B5B0-3A5C36E2D252_zpshks3sm1q.jpeg

    The cast was

    Peter Sallis as Clegg
    Bill Owen as Compo
    Jane Freeman as Ivy
    Jonathan Linsley as Crusher (described as Hilariously frightening)
    Jean Fergusson as Marina

    Plus in this first version
    Kenneth Waller as Howard
    Jean Trend as Pearl
    Lucy Aran as Glenda (crushers punk girlfriend, presumably not the same Glenda as later appeared, judging by the accompanying picture lol)

    Reply
    • Visit site
      August 23, 2016 10:48 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Bob Fischer

      Fascinating, cheers Jakob! Do you mind if we share those on the Facebook group?

      Reply
      • Visit site
        August 23, 2016 11:53 pmPosted 1 year ago
        Jakob1978

        Not at all, feel free to share it anywhere 🙂 I’m happy to share it, it’s a fascinating glimpse at something I know very little about. I’d love to find out more, I wonder if there are any copies of the script out there.

        I’m always on the lookout for articles about the show. I’ll post any that I find that are interesting 🙂

        Reply
        • Visit site
          August 24, 2016 11:21 pmPosted 1 year ago
          Bob Fischer

          Lovely, thankyou!

          Reply
  • Visit site
    August 25, 2016 1:52 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Jakob1978

    Found another couple of clippings, both again from the stage newspaper.

    Another review, this one from a month earlier at the Beck theatre in Hayes.

    http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz257/jakob1978/1983-07-28-Stage-PlayReview_zpsvuzn3wtm.jpg

    And an advert for the run in 1984 at Brighton, this time with Robery Fyfe and Juliette Kaplan joining the cast

    http://i833.photobucket.com/albums/zz257/jakob1978/1984-07-12-Stage-PlayAd_zpsxaauypc3.jpg

    Reply
  • Visit site
    September 12, 2017 2:02 pmPosted 1 month ago
    Simon S

    I notice in the opening that Compo ain’t bothered with the view at all.

    Wesley’s Landy is black (reg: ODT 418X) unlike the usual grey-blue one. Why does he set off before Clegg is in?

    I see a pile of KitKats on a shelf in the café beneath that Ben Shaws advert.

    When the wife tells her husband “Drink your coffee” (i.e. Shut Up) it’s a reminder that Edie will tell Glenda the same many, many times.

    Clegg talks of Vikings “laping and rooting”, which Compo seems keen on.

    FOGGY: If I get to Heaven, I’ll soon put a stop to this solo harp lark.
    (If?!?)

    Foggy produces a ham salad in record time, though Compo’s “thin” slices are well in character.

    It’s a shame the outside shenanigans are just a call-back to the one with Sidney fixing a doorbell, plus the one with fixing slates and being rubbish up ladders. Crusher’s breath is visibly cold, too.

    CLEGG: Being on the ground really suits me down to the ground.

    Foggy sneaking up on Compo & Clegg is fun, though, the Hawk still got his touch.
    And a final caper / chase through the streets, a swan-dive into hay, and a random inclusion of Howard & Marina.

    Apart from the ones with Brian Glover and the donkey, I think Brian Wilde was probably in the right.

    Reply

Leave your comment

Your Name: (required)

E-Mail: (required)

Website: (not required)

Message: (required)

Send comment