AS THE final series begins, the creator of Last of the Summer Wine says the upcoming episodes were written in the knowledge they would be the last.
In an exclusive interview with the Examiner, author/ scriptwriter Roy Clarke says that far from the axe coming as a shock, the BBC had made it clear to him that this was the end.
He also says that the final episode does have a “quiet” ending which he believes is fitting for the show, filmed in Holmfirth.
Now aged 80, he says he would never have wanted to do a special final episode because the weight of such projects often undermine the results.
Speaking from his home near Doncaster, he said: “It’s a very nostalgic occasion for me; I think I will sit and watch it on Sunday with more attention than usual.
“I haven’t done an interview since it started getting a lot of coverage.
“A lot of the stories questioned if I had any bad feeling toward the BBC.
“I’m a freelance – who could complain about a company that has given you 40 years of work?
“ ‘All good things must come to an end’ is a cliche but it’s true.
“The end was bound to happen and I’ve got great respect and gratitude for the Beeb for supporting us all these years.
“I’ve also got to thank the audience for being so faithful. We’ve always had respectable viewing figures and that’s because of them; they are the reason it’s lasted so long.”
Roy is frank about one of the main reasons why the show has reached a natural end.
“The timing is right because we’re all getting so doddery!
THE 31st series of Last of the Summer Wine, which starts on Sunday, BBC1 at 7.30pm, will be the last.
Here we take a look back at where it all started, the main characters and the ups and downs of the hit BBC show.
It was created as a submission for the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse in 1973 but before the year was up a full series had hit our screens.
The first three lead characters were former Royal Signals Sergeant and notional gang leader Cyril Blamire (Michael Bates) flat cap-wearing Norman ‘Cleggy’ Clegg (Peter Sallis) and scruffy but loveable Compo Simonite (Bill Owen).
They were joined by the formidable Nora Batty (Kathy Staff) long an object of desire for Compo, and iconic tea shop owner Ivy (Jane Freeman).
Ill-heath forced Bates to quit after the second series and he was replaced by Brian Wilde as the pompous ex-army corporal Walter ‘Foggy’ Dewhurst.
Wilde bowed out in 1985, and the following year Michael Aldridge was introduced as ineffectual inventor Seymour Utterthwaite.
He remained until 1990, at which point Wilde as Foggy returned.
Summer Wine favourite Bill Owen died in 1999 and in 2000 his character was given a fitting on-screen send off.
It paved the way for his real-life son Tom to step into his father’s shoes.
Frank Thornton came in as retired police office Herbert ‘Truly’ Truelove and some of the more fringe characters took centre stage.
Antique emporium owner Auntie Wainwright (Jean Alexander) aging Lothario Howard Sibshaw (Robert Fyfe) his much feared wife Pearl (Juliette Kaplan) and bit-on-the-side Marina (Jean Ferguson) became more integral to the show in latter years.
Now comedian Russ Abbot has been brought in as ‘Hobbo’.
The sight of a man hurtling down a hill in a bath may be going, but it will not be forgotten.