Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 5 Episode 3: The Flag and Further Snags

Series 5 Episode 3: The Flag and Further Snags

In which Foggy’s plan finally comes to fruition!  

Bob: Good grief, it’s a sequel! I hadn’t looked too closely at the episode titles, so I really wasn’t expecting that, and really… the previous episode had nothing about it that suggested a second part was essential to conclude the story. I just assumed Foggy’s plan to erect the flag had come to nothing, like pretty much all of his ideas so far. Here’s hoping things pick up in this episode. I’m desperately in need of an Empire Strikes Back!

Andrew: Maybe the BBC ordered one more episode than Roy Clarke was expecting? That might explain why The Flag and Its Snag felt a bit padded.

Bob: And crikey, we start with an incest joke. ‘Billy Butterwick had a cousin on the railway once,’ giggles Compo. ‘She said she wouldn’t tell her mum, but she did’. Hear that scribbling? That’s Mary Whitehouse taking notes. 

Nice to see Stan Richards in this episode, bumbling around the Railway Parcels Office when Foggy goes to collect his flag. Later to become hugely famous as Seth Armstrong in Emmerdale Farm, although he only made his Emmerdale debut in 1978, so probably hadn’t quite achieved national treasure status when this aired!

Seth Armstrong is watching you...

Seth Armstrong is watching you…

Andrew: He’s gently sinister here. I bet his house is full of unclaimed goods from the Sorting Office. I love Compo’s method of breaking into Foggy’s parcel. There’s something primitively satisfying about opening a package without having to turn to a cutting implement. Don’t laugh, I’m afforded very few opportunities to feel manly.

Bob: There’s a nice bit of physical comedy here as well, with Compo’s trousers being pulled asunder by the snagged string on Foggy’s parcel. I laughed out loud. Trousers ARE funny.

Andrew: And it’s executed much more effectively than last week’s messing about with donkeys and dry stone walls. Perhaps that’s the luxury of sitcom rehearsal time at work.

Our trio venture back to base in order to solve Compo’s predicament, said base being the café, of course. This just a sign of my unobservant nature, but this is the first time I’ve noticed that Sid and Ivy have their prices written up on a chalk board behind the counter. Egg and Chips for 55p and a cup of tea for just 5p – lovely.

Bob: There’s an unexpected but rather lovely bit of character development in this episode… Wally Batty is a member of the Old and Ancient Order of Bullocks! It’s obviously Roy Clarke’s gentle spoof on Freemasonry, although there’s a distinctly smalltown feel to all of this… they meet in the café, and Wally – we learn – has become a Bullock to advance his standing in racing pigeon circles. And, you have to assume, to get out of the house.

Something we rarely see in Summer Wine here as well… proper, hammering, filthy torrential rain. Foggy even has a brolly! There’s a real ‘end of summer’ feel to this episode, and already I like it much more than the previous installment.

Andrew: Certain sitcoms seem to have been blessed when it comes to location shooting. Dad’s Army is another example of a series where nary a drop of rain is glimpsed. Red Dwarf, on the other hand, always seems to have the worst of weather for their trips outside of the studio.

So our trio head off to find ‘The Commodore’. and we’re treated to two 1970s staples; a scantily-clad, shrieking  woman and some ghastly, brown, flower-patterned curtains. The way in which Clarke has the Commodore bastardize Kenneth Grahame is also very cheeky.

Bob: Alright, can I introduce an element of actor geekery here?

Andrew: Can I stop you?

Robert Lang, up to no good below decks

Robert Lang, up to no good below decks

Bob: Robert Lang, who plays the ex-sea cadets Commodore ‘entertaining’ a young lady on his houseboat, was something of a theatrical powerhouse. He was talent-spotted by Laurence Olivier in the early 1960s, who’d seen him playing Theseus in the RSC’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Olivier tapped him up and encouraged him to jump ship to his newly-formed National Theatre Company! The famous critic Caryl Brahms once described him as having ‘quiet grandeur, cogency and gravity’, all essential qualities for a guest role in Last of the Summer Wine.  

And his young lady is a tiny role for Maggie Ollerenshaw, one of my favourite actresses. And clearly one of Roy Clarke’s too, as she’s also Wavy Mavis in Open All Hours, and went on to play Clegg’s mother in First of the Summer Wine! I love her, she’s got brilliant comic timing.

Andrew: I knew that I recognized that voice from somewhere!

Bob: The final stages of the episode are quite odd, in that our heroes are actually separated in a way that I don’t think has really happened before. Foggy steams ahead on his flag quest, while Clegg and Compo stay behind.

Andrew: Well, it is raining.

Bob: I like Compo’s remark about Wally’s pigeon – ‘That’d go well wi’ a few tatties’, which reminds me SO much of the stuff my Dad would say around this time… I had a pet rabbit, which he would (JOKINGLY!!!) remark would make for a cracking pie with a few carrots and peas. The legacy of a wartime childhood, I guess.

Andrew: My dad wasn’t so lucky. He was unknowingly fed his rabbit after my grandad’s weekly pay was delayed. Perhaps that’s why I was only ever allowed a hamster. Who wants to eat a hamster?

Wally really reminds me of one of my uncles here. I think it’s his pride in his racing pigeon photos. With my uncle, it was whippets, but it’s still very familiar. And I mean this as a compliment should you ever read this, Lar! (It’s actually my Auntie Sue who might knack me should she believe I’m comparing her to Nora by proxy).

Bob: And so – amazingly – Foggy’s plan comes to fruition! He DOES raise his flag on the top of the hillside! Until it falls over, obviously. But is this the first of Foggy’s harebrained schemes that’s actually reached a successful conclusion? It’s a watershed episode!

Foggy's flag goes up!

Foggy’s flag goes up!

Andrew: Dare we attempt to restage his attempt on our next trip to Holmfirth? It’ll have to be on a smaller scale, of course, but the idea of a Brian Wilde memorial flagpole strikes me a rather beautiful thing.

Bob: I enjoyed that, anyway. A huge improvement on the previous instalment with some great guest appearances and funny moments.

Andrew: And a fantastic punchline. All in all, I think that just about redeemed the last episode. Still a very strange two-parter, though.


  • Visit site
    October 6, 2012 1:29 pmPosted 9 years ago
    David Brunt

    The Bullocks is almost certain a play on this:

  • Visit site
    October 6, 2012 2:05 pmPosted 9 years ago
    Chris Orton

    Aged about five I used to have a rabbit that I hated as it used to bite me, so I asked my dad if he would ‘knock it off and put it in a pie’. The rabbit came as a pet from the big shed at the bottom of my grandfather’s garden where he always had a load of rabbits and their babies. I thought at the time that he just liked rabbits but no, sure enough, they were actually all for the pot.

    Heathens in the north aren’t we?

  • Visit site
    September 26, 2016 2:05 pmPosted 5 years ago
    Simon S

    Another strong opening scene, with “Seth” perhaps typifying a bad experience Roy Clarke once had, or just a general jobsworth? When he asks how to spell it, a million schoolboys must shout “I-T” at the screen, so I assume Foggy is being deliberately facetious with his answer.

    The catching the string in Compo’s flies is cheap comedy and yet it has a magic subtlety to it.

    The café stuff with the function room is at least good material for Sid & Ivy for once, and I also plead guilty to noting the prices on the menu board.

    Robert Lang’s Commodore is a strange concoction, clearly not entirely the superior shilling that Foggy thinks, and one of the few people ever to be on Foggy’s wavelength. I don’t find Maggie Ollerenshaw that appealing, but clearly it takes all sorts in this world.

    It’s lovely that the Bullocks’ strand ties in with the flag-pole, thanks to the gentle genius that is Wally Batty. I suspect every script that gave the excuse for a strange motor led like night following day to an excuse for Clegg to drive it.

    The ending is an emotional muddle, and Foggy’s battle-cry of “England Awake!” would get the wrong sort of following these days. It seems uncanny that these scenes pre-dated the Falklands bit by a good 3 years.

  • Visit site
    August 8, 2018 12:41 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Ronnie Beaton

    I think – and I could be wrong – that this is the first episode (or *one of* the first) I ever remember watching.

    I’ve a very vivid memory of the business with the Ancient Order of Bullocks – “Who’s a pretty bullock then? Moo, moo!” and (being only 9 at the time) finding it absolutely hilarious.

  • Visit site
    April 2, 2020 1:26 amPosted 2 years ago

    Did anyone else think the mustachioed chap at the railway station was the Master from Dr Who?


Leave your comment

Your Name: (required)

E-Mail: (required)

Website: (not required)

Message: (required)

Send comment