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LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE
The longest-running sitcom in British television history, 'Last of the Summer Wine' was a BBC1 comedy written by Roy Clarke. The series evolved out of a 'Comedy Playhouse' one-off episode that was first shown in January 1973. The series itself began later that year. It ran until August 2010.
'Last of the Summer Wine' had a reputation for being a gentle sitcom that appealed to older audiences. The characters were endearing, and one aspect of the sitcom's humour was how the characters got themselves involved in unusual and unexpected situations. The series also utilized the British class system for some of its humorous moments.
Popular characters included the untidy Compo (Bill Owen), the slightly nervous Foggy (Brian Wilde), and the thoughtful, reflective Norman Clegg (Peter Sallis). There were three main characters in 'Last of the Summer Wine' up until 1999, when Bill Owen died. His son Tom played a similar character to Compo, called Tom. Kathy Staff's Nora Batty was the most popular female character, and she became an unlikely sex symbol, and the object of Compo's affections.
A Strong Cast
Some of Britain's finest comedy actors and actresses appeared in the series, and several became regular members of the cast, including Russ Abbot, Frank Thornton, Thora Hird, Dora Bryan, June Whitfield, Brian Murphy, Stephen Lewis and Trevor Bannister. Former 'Coronation Street' star Jean Alexander, and the popular, both straight and comedy actor, Burt Kwouk, also became regulars in the series. Guest stars included John Cleese, Norman Wisdom, Eric Sykes, Ron Moody and Liz Fraser.
It seemed that the series was winding down in 2008, when the much younger Russ Abbot joined the veteran cast. Brian Murphy's character Alvin, and Burt Kwouk's Entwistle also had more prominent roles. The series began to revolve more around these two and Abbot's character, Hobbo than on Norman Clegg, and Frank Thornton's ex police officer Truly character.
As well as having a strong cast, 'Last of the Summer Wine' had some of British television's heavyweights, in several fields, contributing to the series. Ronnie Hazlehurst composed the music, Sydney Lotterby was a producer and director for a time, and Ray Butt also directed two episodes.
Ever Present Sallis
'Last of the Summer Wine' was filmed in West Yorkshire, in the Holmfirth area. The final episode of 'Last of the Summer Wine' appeared on BBC1 on August 29th, 2010, and there had been 31 series in all. Peter Sallis appeared in virtually all 295 episodes.
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
Last Of The Summer Wine Main Cast List (actors listed first)
Last Of The Summer Wine DVDs available from booksmusicfilmstv.com - in association with Amazon.co.uk
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