Last Of The Summer Wine


To break up the silence for you, here is another repost. This was originally written – overwritten perhaps – in response to this article from The Guardian. I care too much to be healthy:

At twenty-two years old, I don’t really like being tarred with the brush this sentence yields:

“If younger viewers think of it at all, they do so with derision.”

I’ve enjoyed Last of the Summer Wine on and off since I was a young child who looked forward to the adventures of Clegg, Compo and Foggy, and who looked to the show as a beacon of fun in an otherwise dreary Sunday schedule consisting of Songs of Praise and Antiques Roadshow.

As I’ve grown older I’ve gladly been able to look back at previous eras the series and appreciate it at it’s best. The first several series are bleak, darkly comic and, at times, brilliant. Three old men talk, try to make sense of what they have done with their lives and ponder their own mortality. Nowhere is this better handled than in the TV film Getting Sam Home – a really neglected entry in the canon of British television comedy.

All this being said, I am much less a fan of the show in it’s present form. Too often now do episodes feel like retreads of earlier situations and characters recently added to the line-up lack the depth that memorable characterisations, like Norah Batty of Norman Clegg, possess.

Still, as recently as 2000, Clarke was capable of moving tragicomedy in episodes in which the characters bid farewell to the popular Compo. Last year’s clip show, in which characters once again recalled the scruffy one, demonstrated to me that the writer still has it in him to produce something special when he puts his pen to the right kind of story. Occasional flashes of the old magic still shine through in almost every script. It may only be a scene or line here and there but to me it’s still worth it.

With the passing of Kathy Staff this year,¬†Last of the Summer Wine¬†once again faces a regular problem; how to continue on with a frail and elderly cast and how to explain the sudden absences of old friends. It isn’t enough to simply say Norah has gone to live in Austrailia; the character deserves more than that, as do a legion of dedicated viewers.

Last of the Summer Wine was at its best when dealing with the turning of the earth, the passing of time and the memories of youth, and deserves a chance to go out with dignity – Perhaps a final feature-length episode that eschews broad pratfalls in favour of the low key musings of yesteryear. Sadly though, I don’t see this happening.


One Response to “Last Of The Summer Wine”

  1. […] No new episodes of The B-Keeper this weekend. I know, I know, you’re devastated. To tide you over until the next instalment, however, here are a couple of repeats, a few bits and bobs I made with Bob Fischer over the last year or so which celebrate that most underrated and confusingly maligned of British sitcoms, Last of the Summer Wine. […]

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