Because it would have been rude not to buy it at the bargain price I found it, I now own the complete boxset of Last Of The Summer Wine. Unsurprisingly, this show has been in the background for my entire life, but I realised I hadn’t really seen much of it, outside of the Sundays of the late 80s. Maybe two series got watched, so that leaves a big gap.
Having watched the first three episodes, I’ve been introduced to the character of Blamire, while Nora Batty, while mentioned in dialogue, hasn’t appeared on screen yet. Compo’s existence as a World War 2 veteran is bleak, and I had forgotten that Sid’s cafe used to contain a Sid. There have been (strangely tasteful) riffs on subjects you wouldn’t expect, they smeared dog shit all over a Lord’s manor, and got totally wrecked in the pub. Not quite the cosy show we all remember. And Compo has not once rolled down a hill in a bath.
When one thinks of the show, the aesthetic is of the rolling vistas of the Yorkshire Dales, or the timeless winding streets of Holmfirth. You might be forgiven for thinking the whole show takes place outside. But what struck me in the episodes I’ve watched so far are the beautiful studio sets. (The show later moved away from TVC, of course).
Take this set for example.
It’s simple, but isn’t it lovely? Equally sparse, but evocative is the library set.
There’s no bookshelves, but the furniture alone is suggestive enough. It’s the bleakness of Sid’s Cafe that strikes me.
Look how dirty and dilapidated it all is.
When the boys go and visit a stately home, you might expect some location filming, or some half-arsed set design, but instead, we get this, teased in a series of shots, and never shown in full.
And then there’s this one, which we do see in its wide, magnificent glory.
No doubt elements of this one have appeared in other BBC shows.
Even the pub, seen a little later, is lovely.
Don’t count the bottles.
And take a look at this church set.
Look at the curved beams and stained glass window. And the floor.
I wondered if it shared some of the same elements from the Porridge episode A Day Out …
… but it really doesn’t. Totally different church.