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August 31, 2010 2:34 AM   Subscribe

Britain's longest running sitcom Last of the Summer Wine came to an end on Sunday, gathering 5.4 million viewers rather than the 20 million of its heyday. Filmed in Holmfirth, Yorkshire it followed the exploits of playful, cantankerous retirees for 37 years. Though the last bathtub has rolled, Britons can watch the final episode on Iplayer. Location map, some quotes, scriptwriter Roy Clarke interview. We won't see its like again, but you can hear Ronnie Hazlehurst's theme tune set to words for Compo's funeral.
posted by TheophileEscargot (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
An incredible achievement, especially considering its subject matter: retirees growing old disgracefully. And the fact that one of its original stars, Peter Sallis, was there all the way to the end (although he started out playing older than his actual age). Sallis, it must be noted is also the voice of the beloved Wallace (of "and Grommit" fame).

31 seasons totaling 295 episodes over 37 years. That's a nice leisurely pace. (Among American sitcoms, the record is held by the semi-forgettable "Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" with 435 shows over 14 years; "Cheers" had 271 and "M*A*S*H" had 251, both over 11 seasons)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:56 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd not watched it in years bar the odd few minutes and even that has suggested it had actually 'died' years ago - probably when some of the classic minor characters like Wally, Nora Batty's husband and the bloke that ran the local cafe. If probably definitely ended for me when Compo, Nora Batty herself and Foggy passed on. Still I remember it being mostly hilarious as a kid.

Friend of mine sent me this link - the theme with spoken lyrics by Bill 'Compo' Owen , thought it was pretty poignant.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:50 AM on August 31, 2010


Damn.... hit post too early

Friend of mine sent me this link - the theme with spoken lyrics by Bill 'Compo' Owen , thought it was pretty poignant.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:51 AM on August 31, 2010


If probably definitely ended for me when Compo, Nora Batty herself and Foggy passed on. Still I remember it being mostly hilarious as a kid.

Ditto. I remember it was a weekly ritual on Sunday nights to have a bath then sit in front of a roaring fire watching LOTSW before bed.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:19 AM on August 31, 2010


I love this show. My son and I watch it in reruns every week on PBS here in the USA. The characters are great and the setting timeless. It is a relief from American sitcoms that we no longer watch. Our other favorites are mostly animated, the Simpsons, South Park, Futurama, and Colbert and the Daily Show.

Sad that it is ending but it will live forever in reruns.
posted by mermayd at 4:45 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, when I was about 10, Last of the Summer Wine was a pretty big hit amongst us primary school kids in a heavily urban area. Even then I guess we (and apparently other Mefis as well) were well outside its notional demographic, but I'd like to think the kidz today still reject BBC 3 etc in favour of this.

(Also, our other favourite was Russ Abbot, who seemed like a madcap personification of the carnivalesque. Neat twist to see him end up on the last days of Last Of...)

While I can't say I find any of Roy Clarke's stuff particularly amusing, you've got to give credit to the proclivity of a guy who as well as 37 years of this, also created and wrote multiple years of Open All Hours, Keeping Up Appearances and Rosie.
posted by Hartster at 4:46 AM on August 31, 2010


The theme music reminds me of school in the morning and not having done my homework.
posted by vbfg at 5:14 AM on August 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


I watched about two minutes of this on Sunday. God knows why, because it was as shit then as it's always been. The canned laughter... oh god the canned laughter... WHAT ARE THEY LAUGHING AT?!

As EndsOfInvention and vbfg say, Last of the Summer Wine is the reason everyone in Britain hates Sundays. It's getting dark, you've had a bath, you haven't done your homework, and all you have to look forward to is an unfunny sitcom full of grotty pensioners followed by a full week of school. Oh yeah, and the Antiques Roadshow and Songs of Praise. The fucking horror
posted by afx237vi at 6:14 AM on August 31, 2010 [17 favorites]


Written by Roy Clarke

Every single episode written by the same guy for 40 years? That's pretty freaking amazing, whether its a great show or just an ok show.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:35 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by schwa at 7:44 AM on August 31, 2010


Every single episode written by the same guy for 40 years?

well, yes, but you have to remember that he wrote all 7 of the plots in the first year...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 7:47 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


what I like(d) about this show is the old people. We have very few old people on sitcoms in the US--it is as if they don't exist. Everyone is not relevant after age 40-45
posted by naplesyellow at 7:47 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, unless they're Betty White.
posted by blucevalo at 8:05 AM on August 31, 2010


@afx237vi - LOL. You just summed up my childhood.
posted by zeoslap at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2010


I had a girlfriend who lived in Holmfirth. Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
posted by mdoar at 8:59 AM on August 31, 2010


It's also the last episode of The Bill tonight... another long runner (and another show, that for me, sadly out-stayed it's welcome, probably from when Burnside left)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:46 AM on August 31, 2010


Here in the states, I see this on PBS every once in a while. I had no idea what it was and always thought "Where did they dig up this fossil of a show?" I thought it was like Are You Being Served or one of the other 1970s British sitcoms that PBS fills airtime with. The fact that this show was not an old rerun, but an ongoing series has blown my mind. I'm just going to assume that Rumpole of the Baily and As Time Goes By are still in production over here.
posted by boubelium at 10:52 AM on August 31, 2010


I also had no idea it was an ongoing series. Wow.
posted by joedan at 11:49 AM on August 31, 2010


I'm so torn on its demise. On the one hand, it was a great place for older actors to still get work, and it's nice to have some fairly gentle comedy for those that prefer such.

On the other hand, I tried watching the last episode and had to turn over because it was so poorly acted and unfunny.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2010


Oh man, I spent my late adolescence in Holmfirth and environs. It was mad and brilliant. The fields are full of mushrooms and the moors go on forever. The tourists were hilarious to tripped-out seventeen year olds. I lived across the valley and was never aware how astonishingly beautiful West Yorkshire actually was until I'd moved away and was watching LOTSW from urban elsewhere.

However, it's a double-edged nostalgia fest. Much of the antics of Compo et al are embedded in the aspic of my eighties childhood - afx237vi nailed it completely.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:46 PM on August 31, 2010


LOTSW is shit. If you live in the UK you will have its benign drivel belching from the TV every Sunday. Watch it once and you are doomed forever. If you live outside the UK and have never seen it - keep it that way. Crap. Good riddance.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2010


The Beatles said it all:

"When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
...
When I'm sixty-four?"

Loved the show, even in my 30s and 40s.

.
posted by drogien at 2:12 PM on August 31, 2010


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