Summer Winos»Uncategorized»Series 2 Episode 5: A Quiet Drink

Series 2 Episode 5: A Quiet Drink

In which our trio endeavor to wring beer from a stone…

Andrew: I like the choice of location for the opening of this episode. As usual, our heroes are wandering through the countryside, but in the background one can spy what I deduce to be the then recently-constructed Emley Moor transmitting station. There’s a nice contrast between nature and technology in that choice, and it ties in nicely with the fact that the trio’s amble is interrupted by two near-collisions with passing motorists.

Bob: I missed that completely! Oh, what it is to have young eyes. I might have to break my own self-imposed rule and watch that bit again, as I have a bit of a soft spot for TV transmitting stations, and like to make a pilgrimage to Bilsdale at least once a year. And it’s always pissing down every time I go. Apparently Emley Moor’s current mast went up in 1969 after the previous construction was destroyed in a storm! So yeah, it would only have been five or six years old when this was filmed. I find all that 1970s analogue TV technology incredibly evocative and exciting. Oh yes, my life is a roller-coaster ride of high-octane thrills and danger.

Emley Moor Transmitter (just about) pictured

Emley Moor Transmitter (just about) pictured

Andrew: This has to be the most sitcom-like of the episodes so far. The plot is much less free-wheeling, and for the most part we remain within the confines of the studio-bound pub. And there are a set of stock comedy characters; the miser, the con-man, the female driver, the drunk. I don’t mean this as any insult to Roy Clarke though, as even his stock characters seem to be drawn from real life. I’ve known a few women like Tina in my time – in fact they’re mostly relatives! What might seem broad at first is still finely observed.

Bob: Yeah, apart from a few very slight snippets of location work, this would even have worked as a theatrical production. It’s pretty much 30 minutes of our heroes in a country pub, seeking that elusive ‘quiet drink’ as a cavalcade of larger-than-life sitcom characters create chaos around them.

I think you’ve mentioned before how Summer Wine drops us into this world without too many concessions… we’re rarely given any exposition about new characters, and our heroes almost always know far more about them than we ever do. This is pretty much the case for everyone here… as well as Mouse, the miserly boozer, we get Danny and Tina – who seem for all the world like the prototype Boycie and Marlene from Only Fools and Horses. Danny is the man-mountain wide boy with the moustache, camel hair coat and fedora, constantly trying to flog rubbish to his fellow boozers, while Tina drinks like a fish and makes an exhibition of herself at the bar! I expected Denzil and Trigger to walk in at any moment.

Andrew: It may feel like more of a sitcom, but the plot is still typically light. One line from Clegg is all that is needed to set up the episode’s dramatic thrust, a childish dare amongst friends. ‘A man could get a real sense of achievement if he could persuade Mouse into buying a round’.

Marleeeeene!

Marleeeeene!

Bob: I actually thought this had more of a traditional sitcom plot than most other episodes we’ve seen before! It has a distinct beginning, middle and end, rather than the drifting quality that epitomizes early Summer Wine. Clegg does have some great lines in this. ‘It’s probably only a legend, like Mrs Broderick’s lodger,’ he tells Mouse, as they attempt to persuade him he has the ‘second sight’. More 1970s lodger-related innuendo! I love ‘Happiness is the sum-total of the small things’ as well, which could easily be the guiding principle for all 37 years of Summer Wine.

There’s one line in this episode that made my ears prick up though, and that’s because it’s a very famous line from a British comedy film made pretty much contemporaneously with this episode. As the pub’s resident card-players all return from the gents’ toilets, one of them utters the immortal line ‘That’s the first time he’s known what he’s had in his hand all flamin’ night’. A quip also delivered to great effect by Brigit ‘Thelma’ Forsythe in The Likely Lads – The Movie when Terry Collier vacates their game of bridge to relieve himself outside the caravan!

I’m guessing both Roy Clarke and the Clement & La Frenais tag-team have just done what all great writers do here… picked up on a brilliant line they’ve heard in real conversation somewhere, and adapted it for use by one of their fictional characters. I greeted it like an old friend anyway, and roared with laughter.

Andrew: This is the only time I’ve noticed Michael Bates’ performance in the studio not quite matching the location inserts… although I might be seeing things. As they take Tina to the car, it seems to me that he’s clearly playing it pissed, but he doesn’t do it quite so much during the studio scenes.

A not-so-dry stone wall!

A not-so-dry stone wall

Bob: I didn’t spot that, either! We do see our trio behaving in surprisingly decadent fashion in this episode, though… in later years, their ‘elderly delinquent’ behaviour is generally rather harmless and whimsical, so it was a slight jolt to see Compo putting the boot into one of the cars outside the pub! And then, at the end, we have all three of them – clearly the worse for a few drinks – peeing up the side of the car park wall in broad daylight, something I suspect we’d never have got even a couple of series later. It definitely gives them a little bit of an edge… they’re not just harmless drifters, they frequently don’t care at all about the mores of normal society.

Andrew: Absolutely. There’s also the small matter of putting a drunk behind the wheel of car!

Bob: Incidentally, I’ve never noticed the Clothiers Arms pub in Summer Wine before, but it looks like it still exists…

http://www.clothiers-arms.co.uk/

Andrew: You filthy temptress, you.

6 comments

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    May 30, 2011 3:05 pmPosted 6 years ago
    David Cook

    “A Quiet Drink” is interesting, if ony because of the goof involving Cyril’s trilby – in one shot he’s wearing it – the next he’s back to being bare-headed (his hat is meant to be on a chair, ready for Tina to sit on it!

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    May 30, 2011 5:24 pmPosted 6 years ago
    Paul Hughes

    Of course Bill Owen had played Thelma’s dad in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, but I don’t think he’s in the film.
    I’m going to take this opportunity to plug my friend Dave’s so-called music. Here’s a track of his called Emley Moor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYnzp0DiJVQ

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      September 5, 2016 6:48 amPosted 1 year ago
      Simon S

      I quite enjoyed that track 🙂

      Reply
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    May 30, 2011 8:21 pmPosted 6 years ago
    Chris Orton

    Weren’t the suppoorting characters so much more interesting back in the early days? They were mostly one-shot appearances too, rather than then long-running ones of later years.

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      June 5, 2011 12:25 amPosted 6 years ago
      Andrew T. Smith

      True, although there a a couple of examples of two-shot characters coming up that pave the way for the later-day expanded cast.

      Reply
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    September 5, 2016 6:58 amPosted 1 year ago
    Simon S

    A peculiar one-off with basically one big location, and many one-off characters we never meet again (though a couple of actors reappear). It even has a plot!

    It’s curious how the attempt to con Mouse uses ‘second sight’ – if they had it, they’d know how unlikely to work that was! What full-time miser would go “oh I can see the future in which I’m suddenly generous”?! It’s hardly A Christmas Carol.
    I don’t even believe that he would pay for the drinks at the end…

    I noticed on the recent Drama repeats that Compo’s wig antics weren’t omitted in our post-Savile age.

    If episodes like this prompted Clarke to tone down the library stuff in favour of pubs (and of course the café), then it deserves even more kudos.

    Reply

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