Summer Winos (3.5+3.6)

3.5 The Kink In Foggy’s Niblick

In which Foggy takes to the green and Compo makes a tidy sideline in recycled balls.
BOB: Given that it’s a series centered around working class Yorkshiremen, it’s surprising how tiny a part football plays in Summer Wine… I can’t remember any characters expressing much interest in the sport at all. I’m assuming that it’s a reflection of Roy Clarke’s lack of footballing enthusiasm, so it feels slightly incongruous in this episode to see Foggy, Compo and Clegg bundling their jackets into goalposts and attempting a kickabout… even if it’s a matter of moments before Foggy sprains his back and professes that, actually, he’s more of a golfing man instead.

I remember roaring with laughter at this episode as kid, but – oddly – watching it now, I think it’s probably the weakest we’ve seen so far. Still enjoyable, but it feels like a bit of an anti-climax following the superb Scarborough two-parter.

ANDREW: Yeah, it’s OK, but there’s something just a little bit forced about it. Sallis and Owen in particular seem to be playing it far broader than usual. Perhaps they noticed that the script wasn’t quite up to the usual standard and felt the need to compensate.

BOB: Still some interesting bits, though… is this one of the only occasions on which we see inside Foggy’s house? Albeit only his attic, where Clegg gives us a lovely, surreal monologue about ‘the den of the great wardrobe spider’… take note, Steven Moffat.

I did wonder about Foggy’s domestic situation here… it’s mentioned in his first episode that he’s returning to ‘an empty house in Arnold Crescent’, which I assumed he’d inherited. But now he appears to have an unseen landlady living on the premises! I know I shouldn’t get too wrapped up Summer Wine continuity, but this is the stuff that keeps me awake at nights…

Once Foggy’s decidedly wonky golf clubs have been retrieved, we head to the posh clubhouse and – ultimately –  the local green itself, where predictable antics ensue. Again, we get a line that seems very un-Summer Wine with the benefit of hindsight… Compo, on spying a troupe of stern-looking lady golfers, says ‘Fancy being up for municipal rape and finding that lot on the jury’. I wonder what Mary Whitehouse thought? 

ANDREW: The plot itself is also a bit broad, and not particularly tailored to the series. One could just as easily drop Del Boy, Rodney and Boycie or Bob and Terry into this situation without having to change the lines too much. That indefinable Summer Wineyness isn’t to be found, though it’s hard to pinpoint why.

BOB: When Compo was making a nuisance of himself in the clubhouse, demanding beer and peanuts to Foggy’s embarrassment, I thought of Bob and Terry too! And you’re right… Compo’s rampaging around the golf course, swiping wayward balls to sell back to their owners, is pure Del Boy. 

It does have one great line, though – Foggy’s description of Compo as ‘what you’d get if you tried to summon up a small evil spirit at midnight in an Oxfam shop’ had me chuckling.

ANDREW: You do have to give Clarke credit for that title though, possibly his finest so far and everything one could ask for from the series. The perfect blend of whimsy and the observation of archaic oddball terminology or a knob joke, take your pick.

BOB: A lovely mixture of all three, I think. It IS a great title, and one I remember causing much hilarity at school when this was repeated back in the early 1980s.

3.6 Going To Gordon’s Wedding


In which Compo, for once, is best man.

ANDREW: Amazingly, we’ve jumped from the series’ weakest episode thus far, to one of the strongest. Clarke really has put his all into this finely observed, half-hour farce. To say he is “back on form” doesn’t do this installment justice.

BOB: Yep, I enjoyed this too. Nice to see Compo’s nephew Gordon back in the series, although you wonder how long is meant to have passed between installments, given that that Gordon is now marrying Josie, the elegant redhead he met in Scarborough only two episodes earlier! It’s a very 1970s wedding – all giant buttonholes, disapproving mothers and good-natured punch-ups over Tetley’s Best Bitter. And Gordon’s not the only returning character here… we get another cameo from Paul Luty as Big Malcolm, Compo’s towering relative, last spotted duffing up Foggy in the first episode of this series.

It all reinforces the feeling of Summer Wine being a running story taking place in a small, close-knit community, and it struck me that Foggy’s arrival seems to have heralded a slight stylistic change… in Blamire’s two series, our three heroes are very much portrayed as outsiders, literally spending their days around the peripheries of town life, sitting in disused barns and abandoned factories. In Series 3, we’ve seen MUCH less of the countryside… the show has been far more grounded in sitting rooms, pubs, cafes and boarding houses, and Compo has been shown to be pretty close to several members of his extended family. It has to be a deliberate move.

ANDREW: There’s some lovely domestic material here, from the competitive mothers and the forced jollity of family gatherings to Clegg’s brilliant comparison of weddings and flying, “When you consider how many weddings there are it makes you realize what a safe way it is to go. It’s just that, in regard to weddings, if there is an accident then it’s usually rather a nasty one.”

BOB: Yes, I love the scene in the Gordon’s mother’s sitting room, the sheer awkwardness of making polite conversation with distant family members, suffocated by floral wallpaper and that ominous, ticking clock. The desperate, nervous laughter and the young, randy couple snogging obliviously on the sofa.

Do we assume, then, that Gordon’s flighty and giggly mother – clearly three sheets to the wind by the middle of the morning – is actually Compo’s sister? It’s never specified, but the way she greets him at the door (‘Lovely to see you love, I knew you wouldn’t let me down,’ she beams, proudly, stroking the shoulder of his suit) is every inch the actions of a proud sister rather than a more distant relative.

ANDREW: I guess we’ll find out for sure come First of the Summer Wine, if Clarke remembers she exists by then.

BOB: If so, it’s intriguing to note that Foggy seems to take something of a shine to her, repeatedly vying for her attention and attempting to take photos of her! Can you imagine the comic potential if that relationship had developed? Oh, the shame he’d have brought upon the proud Dewhurst name… 

ANDREW: There’s also a nice line in physical comedy, and unlike The Kink In Foggy’s Niblick it doesn’t seem forced. Compo’s buttonhole, the noisy wedding present, the damaged best man and Foggy’s ongoing feud with Big Malcolm are all nicely signposted and extend naturally from the characters and situation.

BOB: Indeed, and I loved Josie’s line to her father outside the church, flicking up her bridal veil and hissing ‘You see it so many times on wedding photos… embarrassed fathers pining for their overalls…’ Never a truer word spoken, and – again – a fine, pithy and beautifully concise bit of writing. We learn so much about both Josie and her fathers’ characters – and the relationship between them – from that single line.

ANDREW: What strikes me most of all is how big and confident it seems. A lot is packed into twenty-nine minutes in terms not only of situation but also the sheer number of characters involved. The world of Summer Wine suddenly opens out to include extended families and old friends like Gordon and Malcolm.

BOB: And all drenched in that glorious 1970s sunshine, on washed-out 16mm film. All is right with the world, and I want to carry on… 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jakob Pieterson on March 30, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I can’t help wondering if “Kink in Foggy’s Niblick” is an episode written for Blamire, that Roy Clarke has adapted for Foggy…The landlady situation fits Blamire more, and I can picture his character attempting to fit in with the Golf crowd.

    I still rather like the episode though, there’s some lovely moments in it.

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew T. Smith on March 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      That’s an interesting point and probably true. Foggy’s landlady mysteriously disappears later in the run.

      Reply

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