Last Of The Summer Wine: The Complete Collection [DVD]

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Last Of The Summer Wine: The Complete Collection [DVD]

Last Of The Summer Wine: The Complete Collection [DVD]

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Maybe I’m just being impossibly idealist, but although I had not watched the show in many years, I was angry at its cancellation following hounding by people who ought simply to have ignored it. I remember my Uncle going off the show at series 3, because Clarke shifted the emphasis from a three-way bicker to Clegg and Compo ganging up on the oblivious Foggy (about which I’ll have something to say when I come to the final series 2 episodes), but at least in these three episodes, there was a strong note of Clegg and Blamire ganging up on Compo rather than an anyone-is-fair-game approach. One additional development meant that the extended cast began to divide, explicitly, along gender lines, adopting a caricature pose reminiscent of Peter Tinniswood’s Brandon Family novels, in which the men, overall, took on child-like aspects, dreaming and obsessing over things that were essentially games, whilst the women acted as hard-headed and practical, looking down on their menfolk as idiots in need of firm schooling, as they had received in school.

This latter introduced Holmfirth local Gordon Wharmby in the role of Wesley Pegden: Wharmby had no acting experience whatsoever, but was a natural, and Clarke kept him firmly in mind for the future.

Main article: List of Last of the Summer Wine characters The most famous of the Last of the Summer Wine trios: From left to right: Peter Sallis as Norman Clegg, Brian Wilde as Walter "Foggy" Dewhurst, and Bill Owen as William "Compo" Simmonite. The advent of Foggy was a necessary change without which the show, in my opinion, would not have outlasted the decade, let alone become television’s longest-running sitcom ever. The show had already shifted through new stars: Keith Clifford as Billy Hardcastle, a would-be survivalist who believed himself a descendant of Robin Hood, and Brian Murphy as the simple-minded Alvin Smedley. As they amble about the countryside, these unlikely lads are now enjoying a mischievous second childhood, devising and executing a multitude of (grey) hare-brained schemes. The men never seem to grow up, and they develop a unique perspective on their equally eccentric fellow townspeople through their stunts.

Lacking work with which to occupy their time, lacking any responsibility, this disparate trio are thrown together to fill in their time, whatever way they can. What I now understand, decades out of date, is that like a lot of improbable and obscure visitors to the Top 30, Mr Bloe was a favourite of the Northern Soul Scene, of which I did not become aware until 1974.

The pilot, "Of Funerals and Fish", received enough positive response that a full series was commissioned to be broadcast before the end of the year. Last of the Summer Wine: The Complete Collection Welcome to Holmfirth, a breathtakingly beautiful village in the heart of the Holme Valley, home to our favourite idiosyncratic retired gentlemen. Popularity has never been any sort of guide to quality – Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Justin Bieber and One Direction – and I’m as guilty as the next man, in my younger days, of turning up my nose at something that was overly popular.

For some reason or other, the second series of Last of the Summer Wine, broadcast in 1975, ran to seven episodes instead of the traditional six, so that meant that, one week or another, I would have to take a bigger bite. The back cover of the box gives a brief bit of info for that series and a list of it’s dvd’s with the episodes.

And all the while, Peter Sallis and Frank Thornton were getting older and older, until for the last two series the actors – both in their Eighties – were confined to indoor series only: given their seniority, insurance for outdoor shoots was impossible to get. In this early form, the sitcom skilfully utilised the British preoccupation with class that’s underlaid so many successful comedies. At its beginning, the series was nothing like as sentimental or silly as it became, and indeed was based on a relatively grim situation. The joy of Bill Owen's Compo is not what he does with the words but where he takes the character beyond what's in the script. Brian Murphy was chosen as Nora Batty's neighbour because of his work on George and Mildred, where he played the hen-pecked husband to a strong-willed woman.

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