There’s a technique that you will be well aware of, but may not know the name of it. The Texas Switch is an in-camera move where a stunt performer falls from a roof and lands behind a box, and then the actor pops up from behind the box and runs away.
In essence, it’s meant to look like the actor performed the stunt.
It’s not always used in the same way, sometimes camera moves act as the disguise, and sometimes, like in Speed, it’s used to hide a bus switch. Not the best clip, but the bus that explodes is not the bus that passes Keanu. The original bus turns down a side street.
Last Of The Summer Wine makes extensive use of doubles, sometimes in the long shots up hills to save the ageing actors the trek, and obviously in the stunts. Initially they mostly just edited around this, but as the series went on, they started making use of the Texas Switch.
The first use of it that I noticed (it may well have been used before this) was in service of a visual joke though.
Here it’s used again, not really for a stunt, but to refrain from putting Bill Owen in any danger. There’s little to no point in this moment, other than showing Compo is still a little kid at heart.
This one is excellent, and used for a simple yet pretty dangerous stunt.
Both these examples uses the camera movement as the disguise. So does this next one.
And finally, this one, which uses the chairs for the disguise.
You get a glimpse of the stunt performer’s face during this, but it’s fleeting.
That could well be Stuart Fell, the show’s Stunt Arranger.
During my re-watch of Last Of The Summer Wine (I’m up to 1989 now), a few days ago, when he first appeared on screen, I tweeted this.
And then his sister Edie came on screen, and I added this tweet.
While this was true of Seymour initially, at least for a couple of episodes, he soon developed in a different direction, but Edie kept on going down the road towards Hyacinth Bucket.
Then, last night, this happened.
What’s really interesting is that this episode aired less than a year before the first episode of Keeping Up Appearances.
I wonder if this was a dry run of the phone gag, or if the large laugh it got saw it transferred into Hyacinth’s mouth. I get the impression from Thora Hird’s reaction, which you just glimpse at the end, that she wasn’t expecting such a big laugh.
If only I could see some early drafts of the KUA’s pilot script, and do some date matching and version comparisons.
I’d like to draw your attention to two ongoing threads on my Twitter feed. The first one is charting the evolution of the Cafe set on Last Of The Summer Wine. Since this set is used for the entire run of the show, it struck me as an interesting thing to watch develop, especially as the configuration I was most familiar with was the late 1980s one, which is markedly different from the way it first started.
And this one, a look at all the pubs they visit throughout the run of the show. We’re up to series 11, circa 1988 at the moment.