Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 5 Episode 2: The Flag and Its Snag

Series 5 Episode 2: The Flag and Its Snag

In which Foggy attempts to put the pole up… 

Bob: After a cracking opening episode to the series, things  go a bit wonky for me here. The opening scenes seem to lack the usual sparkle… the regulars are just bickering aimlessly, but without any of the witty rejoinders we’ve become accustomed to.

Andrew: I can see where you’re coming from, but there are some cracking exchanges in this scene. Take this quick burst from Clegg and Compo, for example:

Clegg: Then he retired and went in search of paradise.

Compo: Where’s that then?

Clegg: Clacton.

I also like the implication that our trio has embarked on many an unseen adventure, with Foggy alluding to an attempt to get Compo and Clegg interested in astronomy. Perhaps that adventure wasn’t exciting enough to be depicted on screen? Or maybe they’ve had a string of anti-climactic exploits that have gone untelevised, just prior to the beginning of this series. That would explain why everybody seems so down, and annoyed with each other.

Man O'The Dales...

Man O’The Dales…

Bob: Even the normally-genial Sid seems depressed. Although Compo nicely betrays his 1930s childhood, reading all manner of Boy’s Own comics, with his erotic jungle fantasies about Nora Batty. ‘White man come in Nora’s hut!’ Good grief.

I know Summer Wine is hardly noted for its high-octane pacing, but this really is a slow episode.

Andrew: Even the soundman seems to be nodding off. Five seasons in, and that’s the first time I’ve seen a boom microphone drop into shot.

Bob: We’re almost halfway through before Foggy unveils his latest half-baked scheme… to plant the Union Jack flag from the old Sea Cadets’ hut at the top of a nearby hill. Exactly why, we’re not exactly sure, although it does lead to an intriguing line from Clegg. ‘Ever since I read some Harold Robbins, I’ve had this nightmare about woodlice in the trousers…’ he shudders. I’m not hugely ashamed to reveal that I’ve never read a single line Harold Robbins has ever written. Can somebody explain this for me, please?

Andrew: Not me, I’m afraid. But surely, one of our three readers must have a clue? Get in touch…

Bob: And so we embark on, oddly, a kind of Summer Wine road movie, complete with textbook 1970s British Rail jokes and Gordon Gostelow’s horse-and-cart-owning Willis, possibly the most overtly comic persona we’ve seen in the series so far. Gostelow plays him as a classic comedy drunk, in a turn that wouldn’t look out of place on a Music Hall stage. Although he is the lucky recipient of one sensational line…

Foggy: I Have this vision.

Willis: Me too. Horrible little green things crawling all over the front of my Uncle Herbert’s scrapyard…

A sensational Roy Clarke non-sequitur, and one that made me laugh out loud.

Gordon Gostelow

Gordon Gostelow ‘swinging like a pendulum’?

Andrew: That Music Hall observation certainly squares with what little I know about Gordon Gostelow. He was born in Australia in 1925, but began his career after moving to the UK in the 1950s. He may have missed out on the Music Hall by a few decades, but he appears to have had a very interesting career; swinging like a pendulum between Shakespeare and the pantomime stage. You can here the Australian slipping through from time to time in this performance.

I need to write a another quick love-letter to Ronnie Hazlehurst here. The hop-along tune that accompanies our trio’s hayride is very evocative of Hollywood westerns. It’s completely at odds with what’s on screen, but somehow fits perfectly. To my mind, he’s really asserting himself as being as much a part of the show as Clarke’s scripts; the scenery; or any of the actors’ performances during this run.

Bob: We finish with the flag curiously unerected, and an outright slapstick finale in which two genuinely terrified-looking mules are chased around a paddock. I think this might be the first episode of our quest that I really haven’t enjoyed. Apart from the couple of killer lines that I’ve picked out, there wasn’t much here for me.

Andrew: There have been a handful of stand-out moments for me, but I agree that this episode just doesn’t really hang together. A minor bump in the road, I hope.


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    September 29, 2012 6:10 pmPosted 9 years ago
    Chris Orton

    Ronnie Hazlewood?!

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      September 29, 2012 6:12 pmPosted 9 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      Ahhh, my mistake. Bob and I have been a bit engrossed in this chap’s work of late:

      and I’ve clearly had a bit of a crossed wire in the old noggin.


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    September 29, 2012 6:12 pmPosted 9 years ago
    Chris Orton

    Oh, Harold Robbins was a writer of sex-based novels I think, which is probably what terrifies Clegg. No idea where the woodlice come into it though…

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      October 6, 2012 4:43 pmPosted 9 years ago
      David Brunt

      Probably because they often had sex in the open air. Those woodlice could get everywhere.

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    September 25, 2016 4:15 pmPosted 5 years ago
    Simon S

    I don’t care for the 2-parters, although at least there’s plenty of incident here. The opening works more for Foggy’s indignant plea for respect (perhaps after last week’s long march, it was a mistake to take them on another).

    The whole flag-pole thing is perhaps only the same sort of creativity as the Angel of the North (does Foggy have planning permission, let alone the permission of whoever owns the land, or was it acceptable in the 70s?)

    But all this is a prelude to another Dr Who guest star crossover, as Gordon Gostelow embodies the hapless drunk Willis with a glorious ease. Whether preferring to be chucked out by a landlord he knows, or “the horse knows where it’s going”, to Clegg’s brilliant summary about Willis’ wife by way of Marlene Dietrich, to his response to Foggy’s ‘vision’, and even his final moments, it’s maybe the only time that equine antics yield funny results.

    As soon as Foggy puts his foot on that wall, you know what’s coming, so you just wonder “will they do it..?” But they do 🙂


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