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Introduction: About Summer Winos

So how did Andrew T Smith, a North-Eastern writer and film-maker, and his friend Bob Fischer, a BBC local radio presenter, wind up attempting to watch all 295 episodes of Roy Clarke’s legendary BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, in order, from the start?

Pull up a tin bath, dear reader, and they will attempt to explain…

Andrew: So… it’s September 2009 and we’re perched atop the perimeter wall of an old primary school somewhere near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. One of our partners has been roped in to taking a picture, while the other is sitting with us, taking on the role of Foggy Dewhurst. Yes, we’re attempting to recreate a scene from the 1983 Last of the Summer Wine feature length special, Getting Sam Home…

Drew contemplates watching 295 episodes in a row...

Drew contemplates watching 295 episodes in a row…

Bob: That was a great weekend! For the uninitiated, Holmfirth – and its surrounding countryside – is the little corner of Yorkshire where almost all of Summer Wine‘s location work was filmed. I honestly can’t remember how we discovered our mutual love for the series, but by 2009 we were clearly obsessed enough to spend a weekend dragging our respective partners to Sid’s Cafe and Nora Batty’s steps.

Andrew: I remember you suggesting during that trip that it might be fun to watch all of Last of the Summer Wine from the start. Despite pointing out that we’d probably be old enough to star in the show by the time we reached the finale, I liked the idea a lot…

Bob: And don’t forget that the series was still being broadcast at this stage! The idea rumbled around our heads for another year, and we actually got together at my house in August 2010 to watch the final episode. As the closing credits rolled, we breathed a wistful sigh and decided that, actually… watching the entire series in order might just be a lovely way to while away a few years of our lives. Which felt entirely in keeping with the spirit of the show. 

Andrew: You’re about fifteen years older than me…

Bob: Thanks!

Andrew: …but we both grew up with the series, so maybe we should talk about what Last of the Summer Wine has meant to us over the years. What are your earliest memories of it?

Bob: It was actually a big favourite at my school circa 1981, and those are my first memories of consciously watching it. Aged eight, but me and all my similarly aged friends watched and loved it. I actually remember talking about it at school with my friend Andrew ‘Sug’ Sugden, and commenting that it was a show about ‘three tramps’. He hastily put me right…

...while Bob stifles a giggle at 'The Kink in Foggy's Niblick'.

…while Bob stifles a giggle at ‘The Kink in Foggy’s Niblick’.

Looking at the episode guide, there wasn’t a series in 1981 though, so we must have been watching repeats of earlier episodes. I definitely remember a few us giggling about the title The Kink In Foggy’s Niblick, which is from 1976, so that would be right.

The first ‘new’ episodes I watched would have been the Jan/Feb 1982 series, and loads of those were really familiar when I watched the DVDs… it’s the classic Wellies To Wet Suit series.

Andrew: For me, Last of the Summer Wine was always one of those things that was just there; part of the Sunday routine along with a proper dinner and a last chance to run about a bit in the evening before school. I couldn’t say when I first tuned in, but I do know that it was always the Clegg, Compo and Foggy line-up… in what I later learned was its second phase. As far as I knew then, that was the show had always been, so looking back at other eras now actually feels quite strange.

And the fact that it ran for so long is really mind boggling and, as we set off on our marathon, quite intimidating.

Bob: Give over, Elsie.

Andrew: Quiet, little scruffy person.

 

25 comments

  • April 19, 2011 4:01 pmPosted 7 years ago
    John Williams

    I watched the pilot at lunchtime, and ordered the first two series on the strength of it. I was very young during the Michael Bates era, but I remember it being a very different show in the 1970s from what it later became as your blog suggests. So you’ve reeled me in!

    Reply
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      April 19, 2011 4:21 pmPosted 7 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      Our first provisional convert! Anyone else fancy joining in?

      Reply
  • April 19, 2011 5:14 pmPosted 7 years ago
    Bob Fischer

    My hair is terrible in that picture at the top. Far too short. Can someone photoshop a green woolly hat onto me?

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    April 21, 2011 3:04 amPosted 7 years ago
    Joe

    I didn’t know Russell Crowe was a Jet Set Willy fan!

    Reply
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      May 2, 2011 10:22 amPosted 7 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      The only similarity between Fischer and Crowe is that they get lary after a few pints!

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        July 1, 2015 3:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Darren Stephens

        My favourite Russell Crow fact is that his father-in-law is Don Spencer, who used to do Play School (and who I thought was great).

        And I’ve just discover Don and I share a birthday too, which I am irrationally chuffed about for some reason.

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          July 1, 2015 3:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Darren Stephens

          And Don Spencer did the theme tune to Fireball XL5! Bloody ‘ell! There’s one for Uncle Harry’s archives…

          Reply
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    February 17, 2015 10:41 amPosted 3 years ago
    Alistair Griffin

    Getting Sam Home still brings a tear to my eye…off to put a ferret down me trousers and sit in tin bath

    Reply
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    September 20, 2015 4:37 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Austin Hendricks

    Hi Andrew and Bob, Well, going to restart watching the whole series from 1973 to end again, for probably the fourth time. As I wrote before I love Last of the Summer Wine. Our county, Berkshire County in Massachusetts looks very much like summer wine country, even the old textile mills. The are towns of lenox, ashford, lee, many british town names all around here. I love and reread your writings on the esisodes you have done, and it enriches my enjoyment immensely. I am still on lung transplant list in Boston, so run out of energy most days. To sit and watch LOSW is one of my main enjoyments when beat! It still is fresh, touching, laugh till you cry funny, snd strangely dear. I have original dvd where they have been released and copis of the series not yest released. They are like gold to me. Keep up the work, you should have anither one coming soon, right? I look for your work. Hope you both are well, Austin fromPittsfield, Ma. Ps going to watch first season of ffirst of the summer wine, never saw the series befoe. Heard good and bad about it.

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      October 13, 2015 3:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Hi Austin, thanks for getting in touch… and good luck in your quest! And yes, we’ll have more reviews coming soon. We’ve just both been insanely busy over the last few weeks.

      Thanks as ever for the kind words, we both send you our best wishes.

      Reply
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    August 27, 2016 12:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Charles Lawson

    Are you planning any updates or interviews, I enjoy the site.

    Reply
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      August 27, 2016 1:58 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Bob Fischer

      Thanks Charles – and yes, we’re reviewing new episodes all the time. We’ve just finished Series 8, so we’ll be chatting about Uncle of the Bride on the site next. And if you check out the interviews section (under ‘Extras’ on the top bar), we’ve just put a new interview with Bobby Ball on there. Hope you enjoy it all, nice to have you along!

      Reply
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    September 5, 2016 5:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Iris Sher

    Even the title “Last of the Summer Wine” was inspired. I watched every single episode, and have watched DVDs and repeats ever since. Sheer pleasure. The best sitcom ever. 37 years was not enough. Good luck to you.

    Reply
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    September 8, 2016 4:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Charles Lawson

    Michael Aldridge born today in 1920 in Glastonbury.

    Reply
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    September 14, 2016 2:46 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Alun Coles

    Great site have enjoyed all of your comments up to series 8 and the interviews waiting for series 9 you have me hooked nice to know other people are enjoying lotsw as I am looking forward to your reply Alun

    Reply
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      December 20, 2016 10:17 amPosted 1 year ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      Thank you Alun. We’ve been taking another break due to work commitments, but hope to bring you some more posts very soon!

      Reply
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    October 2, 2016 12:58 pmPosted 2 years ago
    alun

    First visit to Holmfirth last week, nice to walk the same streets as the 3,visit to the summerwine museum and of course photos of myself on Noras steps followed by a fine cup of tea and a cake in Sid`s Cafe. Was amazed to see how many other people were here to visit the locations from all over the UK and America so late in the year.Lucky with the weather nice Hotel lovely people what more do you need,thanks Holmfirth see you again soon

    Reply
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    October 25, 2017 7:46 pmPosted 1 year ago
    john b

    Thanks very much for this website. I have come to love summer wine. I was a teenager in the 1970s and it really takes me back to watch the early episodes. I finally visited Holmfirth this summer and enjoyed it very much. The summer wine museum is well worth a visit and also the mini bus tour around some of the filming locations is a must.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2018 10:36 amPosted 6 months ago
    P.J.

    Have just stumbled across this great blog site. I don’t “do telly” any more, haven’t for a few years now (it’s all repeats and soaps and reality rubbish innit!), but doing the full run of LOTSW has been in the back of my mind for a year or so now.

    It definitely over-stayed it’s lifespan by a few years (it was never as good after Bill Owen died, and not simply because Bill Owen was no longer in it; it just felt like it had run it’s course and now belonged in a sadly gone era) and could sometimes be a cliche of itself, but in it’s heyday it’s easy to forget just how good it was.
    Be it the ponderous, play-like monologue episodes of the seventies, the more minor “naughty boy jinks” of the very early eighties, or the “wacky inventions and sliding down a hillside in a bathtub” standards of the mid-eighties onwards (the latter of which, whilst it became a cliche, when done well was still delightful television), it was very well written and with a cream of acting talent. Very deep and even philosphical at times, as it pondered ageing and even death, LOTSW also serves as a timecapsule, or the north of England (I’m speaking as a southener by the way), the tail end of a great industrial age and the sort of characters that went with that era.

    It did become frowned upon for “gentle Sunday evening viewing”, which it certainly was – and most of my memories of it were when I’d bike up to see my grandmother on a Sunday evening and watch it as we had our tea (very quaint). But is that such a bad thing? In an age of *so much* choice on telly, we seem to have a mentality that everything must be more extreme, more challenging… more ugly. It’s a cliche in itself, but a programme (and home grown at that) that the whole family could sit down and enjoy together is itself now somewhat or a relic of the past to a great extent.
    And as a lover of theatre, I think it is the play-like quality of much of the show’s run, that also appeals and also, to an extent, reflects something of a sadly bygone era in our culture now.

    In keeping with that quaintness, I think it is the memories of my late grandmother, who was the closest member I was to in a very small family, and who would still be referring to something Auntie Wainwright had done on Sunday the following Thursday (or suchlike), that would make me want to ‘redo’ LOTSW so much. (My earliest memory of her referring to the series was, much earlier when my grandfather was still alive, her mirth at “a settee sliding down the hill with them on it; which I later identified as the Christmas 1984 episode, ‘The Loxley Lozenge’, though I know I was watching the series as a very young boy several years before that. Even in her late years and the late years of the series, before episode guides and DVDs were so widely available and many of the episodes blurred into one in the memory, she still generally identified this as her favourite episode).

    Loving the analysis and deconstruction of each episode you’ve covered thus far. If/when I tackle going through the series, I’ll compare each one with your own views in turn.

    In the mean-time, one small suggestion/request: At the end of each episode analysis, how about a one or two summary of the episode (in terms of quality) and a “marks out of ten” rating. Making it easier when reading this blog as a review of the whole series in years to come to pick out the bests (and indeed worsts) … and maybe even to compile that very difficult (and much debatable) Top 10 Greatest Episodes list.

    Well, that’s my own essay-like input for now (hey, when an enthusiast gets going, they get GOING!) 🙂 Keep up the good work gents, and please, if you’re ever going to use an old sofa for a seat on the back of an old racing car wreck… make sure it’s strapped down first!!
    🙂

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      June 17, 2018 2:20 pmPosted 6 months ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      Thanks P.J. – it is comments like yours that keep this madness going! When you do get around to starting from the beginning, please do chime in with your thoughts on our comments sections.

      I think it’s probably a bit late for us to start adding a ratings system to the posts, but one thing I have been thinking about is doing a couple of “Best of Blamire”, “Foremost of Foggy” type posts to remind folks of old favourites as we move forwards. We’ll see what we can do!

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        June 17, 2018 9:29 pmPosted 6 months ago
        Bob Fischer

        I’m terrible with ratings… I’d never be able to make my mind up, and mine would be wildly inconsistent!

        But honestly, P.J… that’s a lovely post, and I’m very humbled, and touched. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts as you go along. Thanks so much.

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    August 7, 2018 7:27 pmPosted 4 months ago
    Ronnie Beaton

    When I was a kid, back in the dim and increasingly distant days of the mid 1970s, “Summer Wine” was one of the few TV shows my mum didn’t object to me watching.

    She thought “Doctor Who” was too scary for me. Which it was, a bit, occasionally.

    But the misadventures of the three old lads? Forever pratting about, getting into scrapes and generally behaving like overgrown kids? That’s comedy gold that is.

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      August 7, 2018 7:47 pmPosted 4 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      We love Doctor Who as well, but apart from that… we’re with you all the way! Thanks for popping by, Ronnie – hope you enjoy the site.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2018 9:36 amPosted 4 months ago
    john

    I read about Andrew T Smith & Bob Fischer are going to watch the full 295 episodes of Last Of The Summer Wine, in fact I think their are 296 episodes. If you watch the pilot, I am sure you will see your first glimpses of Compo and Nora Batty, also as Nora is hanging out her washing, their is a younger woman helping her who appears to be her daughter. I may be wrong on this so take a look yourself, I watched the pilot on youtube.

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      August 9, 2018 10:24 pmPosted 4 months ago
      Bob Fischer

      Hi John, the pilot was the first one we watched… our thoughts are here…

      http://summerwinos.co.uk/?p=1182

      It’s actually out on DVD now, it’s an extra on the final release.

      Reply

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