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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.

Gentle Humour

'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/

Last Of The Summer Wine Main Cast List (actors listed first)

Peter Sallis - Clegg
Bill Owen - Compo
Brian Wilde - Foggy
Kathy Staff - Nora Batty
Frank Thornton - Truly
Stephen Lewis - Smiler
Jean Alexander - Auntie
Mike Grady - Barry
Thora Hird - Edie
Burt Kwouk - Entwistle
Brian Murphy - Alvin
Trevor Bannister - Toby

Josephine Tewson - Miss Davenport
Louis Emerick - 2nd PC
Dora Bryan - Roz
Jane Freeman - Ivy
Robert Fyfe - Howard
Russ Abbot - Hobbo
June Whitfield - Nelly
Michael Bates - Blamire
Tony Capstick - Policeman
Juliette Kaplan - Pearl
Jean Fergusson - Marina
Sarah Thomas - Glenda
Gordon Wharmby - Wesley
Christopher Beeny - Morton
Tom Owen - Tom
Danny O'Dea - Eli
Ken Kitson - 1st PC
Keith Clifford - Billy
John Comer - Sid
Joe Gladwin - Wally Batty
Michael Aldridge - Seymour Utterthwaite
Jonathan Linsley - 'Crusher' Milburn
Barbara Young - Stella
Denis Mawn - Vicar
Julie T. Wallace - Mrs Avery
Ron Backhouse - Landlord

Last Of The Summer Wine DVD available from - in association with

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