Last of the Last of the Summer Wine

Okay, I admit it from the start that I’ve always had a bit of soft spot for the sitcom set in a field featuring tea-drinking and rolling down a hill in a bathtub. Yes, I know everyone only ever mentions the runaway bathtub episode, but it was a good one.

Today the BBC killed it off. Not in a kind of shoot-em-up US Postal service rampage sort of way, although that would have made for an interesting episode… No, they just let it slip away peacefully in the night. No big shindig, just the cast heading up the hill in an old tour bus leaving two trouser-less policemen standing in a ditch beside the Yorkshire Dales. S

The thing is, the lovely Sarah remembers watching it with her Grandparents in Cambridgeshire and wondering if they didn’t think it was some kind of documentary of how people live ‘oop-north’.

It certainly was a retirement home for the UK’s veteran actors. Yes, we lost many of them along the way; Compo, Foggy, Wally, Nora – I’d run out of space on this blog before I listed them all. But Clegg’s still there, and Howard, Pearl, Marina, and now they’ve been joined by Captain Peacock from ‘Are you being served’ and Russ Abbot (how, incidentally does an excellent job of reprising his routines from his ‘Russ Abbot Comedy Show’ in the form of Basildon Bond and slapstick, just with less Nazis and fat ladies).

It’s charm was in it’s simplicity. Family-friendly smutty jokes, double-entendre, and stunts worthy of Michael Crawford in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘ave em’. You watch it and your mind says the stage directions ‘compo exits stage left’ because you know it’s just a stageplay on screen. But whilst that gives it it’s charm, it’s also made for it’s demise. A Yorkshire cafe just doesn’t work in HD – there’s only so many pixels in off-white doilies and creme tablecloths. And the media is all about airbrushing wrinkles, and the caps can only cover so much.

It will remain a comedy great, and it leaves me in two minds – should it have been shipped off to Switzerland to rest in peace a decade ago, or is it as much a part of our national identity as the Queen? Personally, with all the hours of television devoted to Dick n Dom, Noel Edmunds and Adrian bloody Chiles, I can’t help thinking that we could have kept 30 minutes a week for Last of the Summer Wine. Sure, no one would have watched, but we’d have all felt good knowing it was there – like those little tea shops in Cotswold town that no one goes in, but which were they to be replaced by wine bars and internet cafes would soon ruin the quaint charm of the place.

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