Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 5 Episode 4: Deep in the Heart of Yorkshire

Series 5 Episode 4: Deep in the Heart of Yorkshire

In which Sid’s gotta do what Sid’s gotta do…

Bob: There’s a lovely opening to this episode with some nice direction… Compo, Clegg and Foggy are sitting in trees, and – although we hear their voices – we don’t actually see them. We only see their respective tree trunks! It’s really effective and funny.

Andrew: And what’s more, this opening shot, in which literally nothing happens, lasts for 44 seconds. That would never be allowed now, but I love it. For the sake of a completely made up comparison, the average shot in an episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys lasts 0.003 milliseconds.

Interestingly, IMDB lists Martin Shardlow as ‘Studio Director’ for this episode, and Sydney Lotterby as ‘Director (Uncredited)’. If this really was the case, I suspect this filmed opening to be Lotterby’s doing.

John Comer is Big Leggy

John Comer is Big Leggy

Bob: Compo’s use of old Yorkshire fascinated me as a kid, and these opening scenes are full of his ‘thees’ and ‘thous’. From an early age I was intrigued by language, and the way that different people shaped it to their own ends. It’s incredible to think that Bill Owen was, in reality, a rather well-spoken Londoner. In a way it’s a shame that Compo is the role that SO defines his career in the public eye, as I think his work in perfecting the character is hugely underrated. People assume he was like that, but in fact it’s a consummate acting performance. One of the finest-ever on TV, I’d say.

Andrew: I’m happy to agree, but I must confess that I’m almost as clueless as the average Joe when it comes to my experience of Owen’s career. If fact, the only other appearances of his I can recall seeing in full are those he made as part of the Carry On team.

Bob: He’s in the fine old British war film The Way to the Stars, from 1945, playing a Cockney airman! Worth checking out, it’s a lovely film.

Anyway, the scene is set for a fun episode when our trio spy Sid creeping in the woods with a roll of bedding, and – naturally – assume he’s out for a bit of extra-marital fun. ‘He’s never happy unless he’s getting his divvy,’ chortles Compo, after Clegg speculates that the Co-Op girl is the object of Sid’s affections.

And it’s 42p in the café for three cups of tea and three buns! Welcome to 1979, everyone. Ivy senses that our heroes know something about Sid’s absence, and gets incredibly emotional about it all. ‘He goes all to pieces if he can’t get good gravy…’ she sobs. Again, a nice glimpse of tenderness behind the classic sitcom Jack The Lad/Battleaxe façade of their marriage.

Andrew: Once again, Jane Freeman endears herself to me with this fantastically layered character. Ivy’s aggression here is very much based upon fear rather than loathing, and the way in which she treats our trio more like naughty children than the usual daft old men points towards a very motherly side that doesn’t come out very often. ‘I tried to talk him out of it… I keep hitting him!’ she howls, without a hint of sarcasm. Sid has run away and she’s acting more like her little boy has gone missing, than her husband is cheating. She’s phenomenal.

Butch and... not-so-Butch.

Butch and… not-so-Butch.

Our trio then seek to console Ivy by suggesting Sid is too much of a ‘horrible looking menace’ to attract anyone into an affair. Poor John Comer; he’s not that bad!

And what is Clegg’s shake of the head all about as he pays Ivy?

Bob: At 10 minutes 30 seconds into the episode, you can catch a fleeting glimpse of an overhanging boom mic! In an age of super-slick TV with Hollywood production values, stuff like this warms the cockles of my ancient heart.

Andrew: That’s the second time this series, and it completely disproves my theory that the soundmen were just bored during an earlier episode… because this one is ace!

Bob: We see sensitive sides to both of the main Summer Wine women in this story. As our heroes retreat to the pub (for Compo, oddly, to declare the he’s in love with Ivy), they’re joined by Nora Batty who swiftly knocks back a brandy and a real ale. ‘But if you’re planning on getting me tipsy so as I don’t know what you’re doing, forget it’, she warns.

Andrew: In case they ever make another episode of Summer Wine, I think we should start campaigning now to be two of the extras milling around in the back of the pub. It’s an art form.

Bob: And, again, what a knack for Northern dialogue Roy Clarke has. Lesser writers would have written the line ‘so I don’t know what I’m doing’, but no… it’s crucial to have the extra ‘as’ in there! ‘So as I don’t know what I’m doing…’ is pure Yorkshire dialect, and perfect for a woman of Nora’s age and background. It’s the little touches like that that make me appreciate what an immaculate little world Clarke has created here.

Andrew: I fall back on quoting dialogue far too often, but the following is one of my all time favorite exchanges thus far. Here’s Compo and Clegg discussing Foggy’s lack of amour.

Compo: He’s hasn’t got any romance in his body at all.

Clegg: Ah, But he’s got a knife with attachments for opening cans.

That’s Foggy’s entire character summed up in just twenty-one words. Talk about economy!

Bob: And why is Nora upset? Because Wally too has vanished. With a bedding roll underneath his arm. It’s a lovely running theme in Summer Wine that both Nora and Ivy spend their lives belittling and dominating their husbands… until there’s a possibility of losing them, at which point the veneer of the impassable Northern woman cracks, and we see the love and insecurity beneath. They spend their lives chasing their spouses out of their houses, but depend whole-heartedly on them coming home every night.

And it’s great to see Compo, when actually left alone with Nora in the pub, feeling genuinely terrified!

Andrew: He has no idea what to do with her.

John Comer… or Lou Costello?

Bob: It’s the old Billy Liar syndrome… he lives within his fantasies, and shares the ribald talk and imaginings with his male friends, but runs scared at any hint of them actually coming true. The idealized romance that he pictures inside his head is clearly a safer retreat than the reality of it all.

And so, the conclusion… Sid and Wally aren’t having affairs after all, they’re part of a Wild West group, sneaking into the woods to wear chaps and cowboy hats, practicing their quick-draws around crackling campfires. This scene is massive in Lancashire and West Yorkshire, isn’t it? I used to live in Lancaster in the early 1990s, and you’d see loads of middle-aged men wandering around pretending to be Gary Cooper. Whistling Hank Williams songs in the queue for the bus outside the Infirmary.

Andrew: Are cowboys an obsession peculiar to our parents’ and grandparents’ generation? They grew up in an era when westerns were part of a staple film and television diet, much in the way that police procedurals are today. Barely anybody makes westerns now. Unless that Doctor Who from a few weeks back counts.

Saying that, the obsession did recur a bit in the late 1990s as well. Remember when line dancing was the done thing?

Anyway, I should point out how well-structured this episode has beenl. We began with the disembodied voices of an off-screen trio and we reach our climax with the disembodied voices of Sid and Wally, who are reluctant to reveal their cowpoke attire. Very neat. And is it just me, or does Sid look remarkably like Lou Costello in this costume?!

Bob: Ha, so he does! A great episode, anyway – fun and warm-hearted.


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    October 13, 2012 7:37 pmPosted 9 years ago
    Chris Orton


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      October 13, 2012 8:01 pmPosted 9 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith


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    October 13, 2012 8:22 pmPosted 9 years ago
    Chris Orton

    I agree!

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    October 14, 2012 9:22 amPosted 9 years ago

    This is rather a fun episode, but not an outstanding one i don’t think. Some lovely moments though, particularly the Ivy and Nora moments.

    Martin Shardlow was the production assistant on this series, but is also credited as Studio Director on the last episode of this series too…a bit like Ray Butt being director of the Scarborough two parter, you do wonder why Sydney Lotterby wasn’t directing…the fact it was just the studio recordings of 2 episodes, maybe he was ill (which suggests the studio parts of this episode were recorded last in the series along with the episode broadcast last)

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    March 19, 2015 4:33 pmPosted 7 years ago
    Darren Stephens

    [“…at which point the veneer of the impassable Northern woman cracks, and we see the love and insecurity beneath”]

    Well, that comes later. I remember being genuinely touched by Kathy Staff in the aftermath of both Wally, then Compo dying. And then there was Jane Freeman doing the post-Sid Ivy.

    I think that’s why LotSW worked: it wasn’t comedy. It was drama that happened to have some laughs in it along the way. I think this is part of what the heart of so-called “Northern” humour is: the best of it is shot through with a kind of wistful, nostalgic melancholy, just like the words through a stick of rock. In amongst the giggles there’s always an undertow of things that might have, been, or things that weren’t – like Clegg’s sorrowful reflection that his marriage had been childless. In fact, maybe that’s what all the child-like stuff is about: a compensation for a life that didn’t turn out the way you had hoped or dreamed it would when you were young.

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      March 20, 2015 8:09 amPosted 7 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      You know, despite it staring me in the face, the whole theme of childlessness has never really occured to me before. Of all of the main characters are Edie and Weslie the only ones to have a child?

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        March 20, 2015 8:09 amPosted 7 years ago
        Andrew T. Smith

        Compo’s retroactive offspring doesn’t count.

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    March 20, 2015 10:12 amPosted 7 years ago
    Bob Fischer

    I don’t think the show would have worked – especially in those early years – if any of the main characters had had children. The to key the Nora/Wally and Sid/Ivy relationships is that they’ve just been stuck with each other for decades, driving each other mad. I think if there’d been vibrant twentysomething kids kicking about in those episodes, it would have been a whole new dynamic.

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    September 27, 2016 2:11 pmPosted 5 years ago
    Simon S

    It was only relatively recently that I learned there is a tune called “Deep in the Heart of Texas”. I just thought this episode’s title was a bit of waxing lyrical.

    Again, it’s a treat to see the three of them on the same side, and what better reason than for Sid & Wally finally teaming up? The mystery when Ivy and Nora are utterly at a loss offers unusual intrigue – when Nora mentions the secret words “bedding roll”, the looks they give each other are priceless.

    When they finally track down Sid & Wally’s clothes, it adds another layer of laughter, so that when they (and we) finally see what the fuss is, it’s fever pitch time. That scene might be one of my favourites, full of lovely friendly lines.

    It leads to the final scene, where Foggy seems unexpectedly jolly to be dressing up, certainly more than Clegg. As with the Napoleon costume in the previous series, Compo seems to get the star part (perhaps because the audience sees him as the star?). The use of approximated swear words gives a nice finish, with Foggy matching Compo for once.

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    August 8, 2018 12:51 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Ronnie Beaton

    To continue with the “Middle aged men being fascinated by the Wild West”, there was the short lived BBC2 sitcom “Bootle Saddles” about the inhabitants of a Western themed town somewhere in Merseyside.

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    December 12, 2021 3:11 amPosted 8 months ago
    Sheena MacLeod

    I like how Cyril’s name came up in discussion.


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