Welcome to the official web site of the Summer Wine Appreciation Society, in partnership with Holmfirth Web. This is our tribute to the world's longest-running TV comedy series which is filmed in the Holme Valley, and surrounding villages.
Gerald Hayne's Column
REMEMBERING FIRST OF
THE SUMMER WINE
pioneering idea to have a series which looked at the characters of Last
of the Summer Wine when they were youngsters manifested itself in 1988
when FIRST OF THE SUMMER WINE was created;
after a 45 minute pilot this then ran for some 12 episodes in two
series in 1988 and 1989. The
prolific Roy Clarke wrote it and Gareth Gwenlan, later Mike Stephens,
directed and produced this nostalgic look at our favourite characters in
their first flush of youth rather than in their second.
Our heroes chased jobs, girls and tried not to think of their
futures – nothing different there then.
Peter Sallis was the only current cast member to be in FOSW
playing the father of his character; the premise being that each episode
was an extract from Norman Clegg’s diary. The remainder of the young cast had roles which demanded
partly normal acting skills and partly the need to impersonate the
mannerisms of those already so well known to us.
In view of the increasing
interest in FOSW I sought out one of its stars, David Fenwick who played
young Norman, to find out some more about this unique prequel to our
favourite tv series. It was
a bitterly cold day with frost everywhere when I put my questions to
David and he recalled another time, when they were filming at Beamish
Museum (for the trams and the bandstand) when on the last day of
shooting they had handwarmers in their pockets as it was so cold.
The interiors were done at Lee Studios outside Manchester and all
shooting was performed in front of a live audience.
Holmfirth was once again the base area and Sid’s Café became
the chippy (fish and chips shop) and many other scenes were at nearby
Compo, Clegg, Seymour, Foggy,
Ivy, Nora and Wally were all there as youngsters and the link through
Roy Clarkes skilled writing can be seen very clearly.
I asked David if there were any amusing anecdotes which he
recalled from the making of FOSW and was delighted when he told me the
the scenes filmed outside the Co-op in Netherthong and outside Clegg’s
house the cobbles were rubber and unrolled on to the street (having been
caste from the real cobbles there); these were then dressed with dirt
and horse manure. When he
walked on it, it squeaked so the sound of footsteps had to be added
later! On another occasion
it was boiling hot when they were lifting a caravan through the Peak
District as David was in woollen trousers, shirt and tie with a thick
wool jacket he asked if he could take them off (in shot) to be cooler.
He did this – and the next day when they carried on with the
same scene he was just in his shirtsleeves and, you’ve guessed it, it
was the coldest, rainiest freezing summer’s day ever seen!
The episode where as young
Norman Clegg he is left to look after the Co-op shop on his own, he
banged his cheek on the window dummy which was made of hard plaster.
He saw stars and his cheek started to swell up; this was LIVE in
front of a studio audience; when the camera went on to the actor playing
young Compo, David was putting ice on his cheek and then came back in to
shot! He says it is all
there in the scene on film as there were no re-shoots!
Asked if he ever sees any others from the FOSW cast David stated
that he has kept in touch with Helen Patrick, who played Nora Batty, and
she now runs a 5 star restaurant in the Lake District!
has been in much in demand in the acting profession as can be
seen from his website www.d-fenwick.co.uk
with many UK television roles over the years (including a part in that
other Yorkshire series Heartbeat) and the other night uk viewers saw him
in the movie The Krays. I
asked him if, like so many of us, he thought that FOSW could and should
have had a much longer run and he was positive that this was the case;
the series achieved 7 million viewers on a regular basis but at the
time, the BBC felt that this was not enough given the cost of producing
a period series. No doubt
they would be delighted with such figures today!
Finally I asked this very
personable and talented actor what his best personal memories from
making FOSW were and he modestly commented that “sitting on a hot
summer’s day in the sun
outside the Hyde Park cinema in Leeds listening to stories and jokes
from my new pals on the pilot and feeling like I’d won the pools”.
He added that he had no regrets and that making FOSW had been a
great time for him. I
enquired whether he would like to be in
a future episode of LOSW perhaps as the long lost son of Norman
Clegg or in some other role and he modestly said that this was up to
Alan J W Bell and Roy Clarke….. but he would love to do so and I, for
one, hope that this could happen.
I can only echo David’s
views and thank him most sincerely for his help in giving us an insight
into the making of First of the Summer Wine.
Perhaps someone at the BBC will realise that here again they have
a vintage bottling which should at the very least be opened again for
those like me who have never had the opportunity to see it.
More musings and Yorkshire common sense needed “tha
Editor's Note: Many thanks Gerald for submitting this fascinating interview. We receive lots of fan mail about FOTSW and we know this will be very well read by fans.
© 2000 Area5. The Summer Wine On-Line web site brought to you by Area5 Public Relations, Holmfirth. Thanks to everyone who has contributed material to this web site, including Colin Frost, of Side's Café, Holmfirth.