Summer Winos (1.5+1.6)

1.5 The New Mobile Trio

In which our three friends take up motoring.

Andrew: Clegg being keen to have a go on the driving simulator would seem at odds with his later fear of getting behind the wheel. Then again, the way in which even playing this children’s game gets him agitated does seem to point towards his latter day nerves. Despite the fact that he still wants to buy a car you can put this down to him looking back on his past as a motorist with rose (or toffee) tinted spectacles and the trio’s lack of success during this instalment might be seen to scar him for life. Some would say that this isn’t the sort of series I should be inspecting for watertight continuity of characterisation but… actually, they’re probably right.

Bob: No, it is slightly jarring seeing them buying a car, as I think a big part of the appeal of the show is that they’re NOT mobile. It’s a certainly a big part of the ‘retirement as second childhood’ theme… yes, childhood is a gloriously liberating time, with no real responsibilities, but it can also be a frustrating time. When you’re a kid, you’re effectively trapped in your home town and its surroundings, bound by the limits of how far you can walk (or at least cycle) during the day. ‘We had to make our own entertainment,’ to coin a phrase. Our three heroes are equally trapped and similarly making do with their lot.

By the way, I’ve NEVER seen anything like that driving simulator, even in the 1970s. How did it work? It just seemed to be seamless footage filmed through a car windscreen, it can’t have responded to the controls, surely?

And £30 for a car! Even a knackered old one.

Andrew: Clegg on his expired partner, “My dear wife, God rest the silly bitch…” I know I keep pointing out these lines, but bloody hell!

Bob: He’s nasty to the kid on the driving simulator as well, (‘Ever heard the phrase, suffer the little children…?’) and – amazingly – it’s Clegg’s initiative to buy a car and get out on the open road. Very much at odds with his ‘not getting involved’ persona that was firmly in place by the end of the 1970s. You’re right, Drew… let’s keep within the spirit of the show and say that Roy Clarke deliberately lightened Clegg’s character as he got older, mellowing his temper but narrowing his ambitions. I like that.


A classic ‘dotty old lady’ turn from the fabulously-named Mollie Maureen in this episode. She pretty much made a career out of similar roles, I remember her popping up in Kenny Everett’s various TV shows in the 1980s. And Ronald Lacey as well! No-one does a greasy, seedy leer quite like Ronald Lacey. He even does it in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I wonder if any other of the Lucasfilm family pop up in Summer Wine? Do we get to see Michael Sheard or Leslie Schofield at any point? Oh, the anticipation…

Another 1970s flashback for me… the kids with the grimy hair, sitting on the stone steps in their vests. It just took me back, for some reason. A tiny snapshot of nothingness that just encapsulates Northern England of the mid-1970s. It’s the little things that set me off.

1.6 Hail Smiling Morn Or Thereabouts

In which Blamire whips out his brownie and asks Compo for a better exposure.

Andrew: I had no idea Clegg had two houses during the series. This first one doesn’t seem as fitting somehow. That sofa is far too seventies for a start.

Bob: You’re right, but… it’s not just Clegg’s house, is it? It’s his marital home. We’re not sure how long it’s been since his wife died, but it’s clearly still HER house… the patterned wallpaper, the plush sofa, the ornaments and soft furnishings. Clegg’s later house is a single man’s home, but this one has seen a woman’s touch. It’s nicely done.

Andrew: During this episode, I think we get the one and only time we ever get of Mrs. Clegg. Compo says, “She were always ugly, then?” but to be fair to the woman, the fleeting glimpse we get off her wedding picture reveals a slim and fairly attractive bride. Perhaps she was just ugly on the inside? But just check out the lingering look Clegg gives her photograph at the end of that scene. Despite all of his bravado, he does seem to miss her, or at least to have admired her.

Bob: I love Clegg’s lengthy anecdote of his and his wife’s aborted camping expedition, where she wept and ‘pined for her draining board’. Lovely writing again, and superbly played by Peter Sallis. And yes… the passing look that he gives the photo is very touching. You could blink and you’d miss it, but the love and the loss is all there in a brief, beautiful moment. I wonder if that second of silence was scripted, or if it’s pure Peter Sallis? A gorgeous character moment.

Andrew: I’d love to get hold of some of the photographs that Blamire takes during the course of this episode. More-so than the staged publicity shots, they seem to capture the playfulness of our trio when they get to mucking about. It would seem unlikely, but it would be nice to think that those negatives are still locked up in a BBC archive somewhere.

Bob: That’s a fab little sequence. The gentle pastimes that they pursue in these early episodes are far more effective and believable than the stunts that came in later years. There’s actually a scene in the ‘Spring Fever’ episode, two weeks earlier, where they’re idly drifting down the river on a raft made from planks and empty barrels. And it’s just casually dropped into the episode as an incidental feature… a bit of background to the REALLY important stuff – the dialogue. Same with the photography here… it’s very nicely done.

BLAMIRE: She married a University lecturer!

CLEGG: Well don’t hold that against her, anybody can make a mistake.

Andrew: I suppose I should be offended by Clegg’s comment, but to be honest I can sort of see his point…

Bob: Yeah, but university lecturers were GENUINELY weird in the early 1970s. Most people would never have actually seen one outside of the Open University on BBC2. The nearest things to universities anywhere near me in the 1970s were Teesside Polytechnic and Cleveland Art College… and even those were seen as dangerously subversive refuges for hippies, communists and other similar beardy-weirdy types. Breeding grounds for potential Mr Wainwrights! It was only in the 1990s that ‘going to uni’ became the almost universal experience that it is now.

Some more lovely long-forgotten vocabulary in this episode… Compo says ‘Speak up, we can’t hear you in the Fourpennies’ to an arguing Sid and Ivy – presumably a reference to the cheap seats at a theatre? And Ivy delivers a classic put-down to Sid… ‘Three pints of ale, and you think you’re Jack Benny’. I wonder how archaic that sounded in 1973? The height of Benny’s popularity had arguably been thirty years earlier, and yet… it’s same as making reference now to someone who was popular in 1981. Kenny Everett, or Russ Abbott, maybe? Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.

Andrew: Are there many abandoned farm buildings scattered along the countryside these days, or have they all been converted into stylish apartments and getaway cottages by the team from Grand Designs?

Bob: No, they’re out there. I walk a lot on the North Yorkshire Moors, and there are still some gloriously rugged and desolate little places. Fancy watching Series 2 in one of them? I’ll bring my laptop…


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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ian on May 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Funnily enough, the driving simulator isn’t in the published scripts for series 1 (one of the joys of TV script books is how often they use the rehearsal scripts). It replaces a dialogue sequence which I think has much more charm and reality, it’s the slow creep of slapstick beginning I tell you.

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew T. Smith on May 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Very interesting Ian.

      I don’t suppose we could pester you to transcribe the scene here? If you do you will win the coveted From The Get-Go No-Prize!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Ian on May 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Extract from THE NEW MOBILE TRIO’s published script, all rights obviously Roy Clarke and the BBC.

    Street in Holmfirth
    Our three sauntering along, each preoccu-
    pied with his own thoughts. Unnoticed,
    Clegg hangs back at a motor car showroom
    window and looks in. Through the glass we
    see him staring thoughtfully. He feels for his
    glasses and puts them on, has a moment of
    panic regarding his left eye until he dis-
    cooers a piece of toffee paper stuck to the
    lens. He peels it off and peers into the show-
    room. The other two have noticed his ab-
    sence. Compo whistles shrilly, making
    Blamire wince and they beckon Clegg on,

    2 Inside the library
    We see Wainwright and Mrs Partridge, in-
    hibited by the proximity of our three, are
    trying to conduct an impassioned debate by
    mime and lip-reading He is trying to per-
    suade her to step into the stock room. She
    is pleading pressure of work- In the reading
    room our three are engrossed in their own
    afairs. Compo is making his daily selection
    from a list of runners, pulling the contorted
    expressions of one to whom decisions are
    physically painful, sucking a stub of pencil.
    Blamire is muttering angrily and tutting
    over the national daily he is reading- Clegg
    is wiping the remains of the toffee from his
    glasses.

    cLEGG All this time I’ve thought me left eye was
    failing.

    The other two ignore him. He presses on un’
    perturbed.

    It’s been an old treacle toffee in me glasses
    pocket. It’s one of the less common eye
    diseases. Treacle toffee. (He finishes polish-
    ing and puts his glasses on.) You never
    know what’s in store for You – do You?
    Who’d have ever thought I’d be struck down
    at my age with treacle toffee? I don’t eat
    the damn stuff. I wonder how they’d a’ cured
    it if I hadn’t discovered it in time. Massive
    injections of wine gums.

    BLAMIRE (Snorts) Trade Union Movement! I’m sick
    up to here of reading about the Trade Union
    Movement. It’s got the right name, I’li say
    that for it. It’s a movement all right. A
    bowel movement. And for the last few years
    it’s been nothing but diarrhoea.

    COMPO (Without any real interest, absentmindedly)
    What about the bosses?

    BLAMIRE What bosses? There aren’t any trosses. That’s
    precisely what’s wlong. British management
    is so nervous it’s egg bound.

    cLEGG Cyril, I wish you’d cut down your consump-
    tion of the National Dailies’ Don’t you
    realise there’s a statistical Iink between head-
    lines and malignant tumours of the peace of
    mind? They’ll give you cancer of the con-
    fidence. You’ll finish up depressed, irritable,
    extreme right wing.

    coMPo He is extreme right wing. The day he joined
    up – tha knows what regiment he put down
    for. First choice.

    BLAMIRE And how would you know? I’ve seen you
    make a detour of half a mile to avoid a re-
    cruiting office.

    coMPo I know what tha put down for. Hitler’s body’
    guard.

    cLEGG It was a better uniform.

    BLAMIRE You can scoff.

    coMPo I could if I’d got owt to scoff. Ant tha got
    any a’ them mints?

    Blamire gives him one and one to Clegg.

    BLAMIRE Look at it! It’s like feeding a ready mix
    concrete machine. Just the same at school’
    Him and Doggy Eastwood. Ate everything
    but the inkwells. You know what his tech-
    nique was, he’d spit on somebody’s bun and
    saY ‘You don’t want that do you?’

    Compo grins hugely.

    cLEGG I know. And you’d go straight from that to
    Elgar in the Music Room. Struck even at
    that age by the rich possibilities of life.

    COMPO It was oniy when he clanged the SS medical
    When they turned up evidence of his Jewish
    Ieft leg that he signed on for t’ Catering Corps.

    BLAMIRE I was not a member of the Catering Corps!
    It was the Fighting RoYal Signals.

    COMPO Warra load a’ puffs they were an’ all.

    BLAMIRE Swift and Sure was the motto. Certa Cito.
    Technological brains of the British Army.

    COMPO We had one attached to our mob. He
    couldn’t find his way to a bloody cookhouse.

    cLEGG Hardly worth his while was it, if you’d all
    been spitting on his bun.

    BLAMIRE I was there when it came to the fight for
    freedom.

    COMPO Just him you’ll notice. All on his jacksie.

    BLAMIRE I was there willingly at the time. It’s only
    when you look around and see what’s been
    done with the freedom that the thought
    occurs that I might as well have stayed at
    home and scraped together a deposit for
    CYnthia Murchingrove.

    COMPO Oogh! Tha were better ofi on a battlefield –
    honest.

    BLAMIRE She had diplomas in embroidery and was
    accustomed to making all her own cushions’
    Even a lamPshade or two’

    cLEGG You must have been a wild young thing in
    them daYs, CYril.

    COMPo She were built like a lamp-post. (Compo
    turns to Clegg.) Tha remembers’ that
    parade on Coronation Day’ She played Bo Peep,
    and you’d a job tellin’ which were her
    and which were’t shePherd’s crook.

    cLEGG Oh her. It was just puppy fat. (They have a
    chuckle much to Blamire’s annoyance.) Stlll
    If she had nimble fingers.

    BLAMIRE She would have made an excellent wife.

    cLEGG It dunt always follow. It dunt always pay to
    rely on’em being unattractive. Ideally there
    ought to be something else.

    BLAMIRE Face like that tha’d soon be lookin’ for some-
    thing else.

    cLEGG Were You engaged?

    BLAMIRE Not exactlY.

    cLEGG Now come on In those days it had to be
    exactlY or nothing round here’

    BLAMIRE We had an understanding. She was mine the
    moment I achieved an executive position
    with the Water Board. I had every prospect.
    People retire, and now and again somebody
    would drown. But of course the war came
    and ruined everYthing.

    CLEGG You had a narrow squeak there Cyril. Would
    have been just my luck not to have had a
    damned great war.

    BLAMIRE She saw me off to the army. Tears all over
    her platform ticket. I was home six weeks
    later on a fortyeight to find she was already
    betrothed to this undermanager from ihe
    Maypole Dairies. He was using his position
    to suPPlement her butter ration.

    cLEGG You get that kind of frenzied madness in
    every war. People living only for the
    moment. Cramming every instant full of
    buckshee butter. You don’t know when
    you’re well off… How well off are You,
    incidentally? Can you manage fifteen quid?

    BLAMIIRE What?

    cLEGG By hell he’s got the reflexes of a young man!
    Did you see him leap like he’d been stung
    there? You can raise fifteen quid, Cyril, I
    bet you’ve a little nest of it somewhere.

    COMPO He’s got that insurance money.

    BLAMIRE Who told you?

    COMPO EverybodY knows.

    BLAMIRE lt’s a great area this for financial discretion.
    TheY know the value of Your spit.

    cLEGG You can put your hands on fifteen quid with-
    out disturbing Your savings.

    BLAMIRE What if I can?

    COMPO Dunt he go a nasty colour when his money’s
    in danger?

    BLAMIRE Why not? I’ve only got to look at you to
    see how stYlish poverty is.

    COMPO I’m happy.

    BLAMIRE Yes. Bloody slap happy, and look where it’s
    got you.

    CLEGG Don’t underestimate him, Cyril, he didn’t
    gct like that overnight’ It’s taken him years
    of dedicated mismanagement.

    COMPo (Grins evilly) Give us a fag and I’ll let thee
    feel me loose tooth.

    He collects one from each, pops them in his
    tin and lights a battered tab end. They look
    at the clouds of smoke, then at the ‘No
    Smoking’ sign and then check Wainwrighfs
    whereabouts. No one in sight. Blamire tip-
    toes to the stock room door – listens. We see
    his eyes widen. He comes back.

    CLEGG Again?

    BLAMIRE Sounds like it.

    CIegg and Blamire shrug and light cigarettes
    also. Clegg taps the local paper he has been
    studying to draw Blamire’s attention to an
    item. Blamire reads it.

    CLEGG At that price we could manage it between us.

    BLAMIRE I thought you didn’t like cars.

    CLEGG It’s true we don’t get on. My dear wife –
    God rest the silly bitch – conceived this pas-
    sion late in life for a one owner Hillman.

    COMPO Tha should worry. Mine went for a chuffn’
    Pole.

    CLEGG But did you have to wax him every Sat’day
    afternoon? Vac. his interior? Lift up his bon-
    net and pour things in his tubes? It was so
    treacherous you see. You didn’t need a steer-
    ing wheel. You needed a whip and a flamin’
    chair. I used to set off forard and she’d go
    backwards.

    COMPO Tha must a’ bin int wrong gear.

    CLEGG That’s what the world was supposed to think, –
    but I knew that shiny, metallic monster was
    changing her own gears. I’ve never liked
    driving. She used to make me look a right
    prongless fork.

    BLAMIRE Then why do you want another?

    CLEGG I don’t want another one like her. Nothing
    you’ve got to polish. (He points to the paper.)
    But summat like this. A clapped out
    old banger that’ll just take us where we want
    to go. I’ve still got this driving licence –
    we’ve got all this spare time – we could get
    about and do more.

    COMPO We could go to York races.

    CLEGG Mobility’s a kind. of freedom. Long as you’re
    not always polishing it. (He looks at Blamire.)
    If we both chipped in fifteen quid we could get one.

    BLAMIRE What about him?

    They look at Compo.

    cLEGG Like I said. If we both chipped in fifteen
    quid we could get one.

    COMPO I’ll maintain it for you. I’m good wi’ me
    hands.

    BLAMIRE We’re all aware of that. Missis Batty’s forever
    complaining.

    From Last of the Summer Wine Scripts, Roy Clarke, 1976 ISBN O 563 17090 5

    Not a whiff of bizarre driving simulator machine…

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew T. Smith on June 5, 2011 at 12:28 am

      Thanks for that, Ian, and sorry for the late reply. I never would have asked had I realised that this was such a substantial scene! Fascinating stuff, and given a choice between this and the simulator I think I know which one I’d pick. Perhaps the producer’s brother made simulators and they decided to shove it in.

      Reply

      • Posted by Jakob1978 on January 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        Coming late to this discussion but interestingly this episode is discussed in Alan Bells recent book about his time as director, because he stood in as production manager on this episode when the original was ill. He talks about how he filmed the footage on the driving simulator. He also talks about how the director (Jimmy Gilbert) had total respect for the script and wouldn’t even change or add lines unless they were written by Roy Clarke. The “suffer little children” line was a late addition added when they needed a line to get the child out of the simulator, which despite suggested lines from everyone else he insisted on waiting until Clarke was contacted to provide a line. Given that, it does seem like the simulator was added by Roy Clarke at some stage after the initial script was submitted. I do like the original scene though.

      • Posted by Ian on January 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        That’s Jakob, genuinely really interesting. Thanks for taking the time to get back. I think I’ll have to track down Alan’s book at some point. I expect his memories of Hitch-Hiker’s will be interesting to say the least.

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