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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.

 

17 comments

  • April 19, 2011 4:01 pmPosted 6 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 6 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      Our first provisional convert! Anyone else fancy joining in?

      Reply
  • April 19, 2011 5:14 pmPosted 6 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?

    Reply
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    April 21, 2011 3:04 amPosted 6 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 6 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

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

      Reply
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        July 1, 2015 3:50 pmPosted 2 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 2 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 2 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

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    September 20, 2015 4:37 pmPosted 2 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 2 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year ago
    Charles Lawson

    Michael Aldridge born today in 1920 in Glastonbury.

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    September 14, 2016 2:46 pmPosted 1 year 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

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      December 20, 2016 10:17 amPosted 10 months 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 1 year 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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