So how did Andrew T Smith, a North-Eastern writer and film-maker, and his friend Bob Fischer, a BBC local radio presenter, wind up attempting to watch all 295 episodes of Roy Clarke’s legendary BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, in order, from the start?
Pull up a tin bath, dear reader, and they will attempt to explain…
Andrew: So… it’s September 2009 and we’re perched atop the perimeter wall of an old primary school somewhere near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. One of our partners has been roped in to taking a picture, while the other is sitting with us, taking on the role of Foggy Dewhurst. Yes, we’re attempting to recreate a scene from the 1983 Last of the Summer Wine feature length special, Getting Sam Home…
Bob: That was a great weekend! For the uninitiated, Holmfirth – and its surrounding countryside – is the little corner of Yorkshire where almost all of Summer Wine‘s location work was filmed. I honestly can’t remember how we discovered our mutual love for the series, but by 2009 we were clearly obsessed enough to spend a weekend dragging our respective partners to Sid’s Cafe and Nora Batty’s steps.
Andrew: I remember you suggesting during that trip that it might be fun to watch all of Last of the Summer Wine from the start. Despite pointing out that we’d probably be old enough to star in the show by the time we reached the finale, I liked the idea a lot…
Bob: And don’t forget that the series was still being broadcast at this stage! The idea rumbled around our heads for another year, and we actually got together at my house in August 2010 to watch the final episode. As the closing credits rolled, we breathed a wistful sigh and decided that, actually… watching the entire series in order might just be a lovely way to while away a few years of our lives. Which felt entirely in keeping with the spirit of the show.
Andrew: You’re about fifteen years older than me…
Andrew: …but we both grew up with the series, so maybe we should talk about what Last of the Summer Wine has meant to us over the years. What are your earliest memories of it?
Bob: It was actually a big favourite at my school circa 1981, and those are my first memories of consciously watching it. Aged eight, but me and all my similarly aged friends watched and loved it. I actually remember talking about it at school with my friend Andrew ‘Sug’ Sugden, and commenting that it was a show about ‘three tramps’. He hastily put me right…
Looking at the episode guide, there wasn’t a series in 1981 though, so we must have been watching repeats of earlier episodes. I definitely remember a few us giggling about the title The Kink In Foggy’s Niblick, which is from 1976, so that would be right.
The first ‘new’ episodes I watched would have been the Jan/Feb 1982 series, and loads of those were really familiar when I watched the DVDs… it’s the classic Wellies To Wet Suit series.
Andrew: For me, Last of the Summer Wine was always one of those things that was just there; part of the Sunday routine along with a proper dinner and a last chance to run about a bit in the evening before school. I couldn’t say when I first tuned in, but I do know that it was always the Clegg, Compo and Foggy line-up… in what I later learned was its second phase. As far as I knew then, that was the show had always been, so looking back at other eras now actually feels quite strange.
And the fact that it ran for so long is really mind boggling and, as we set off on our marathon, quite intimidating.
Bob: Give over, Elsie.
Andrew: Quiet, little scruffy person.