After 37 years, 295 episodes and countless shots of one woman’s wrinkled stockings, the final edition of Last of the Summer Wine is broadcast tonight.
The gentle show is a favourite of both the Queen and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, but the BBC announced this year that it would not recommission another series.
Many of the programme’s most famous characters will be absent from the final episode, but little has changed in the Yorkshire village of Holmfirth since the first edition went out in 1973.
Nora Batty and her ill-fitting hosiery will not make an appearance; nor will Compo, her beanie-hatted admirer – the actors in both roles have long since died. But 89-year-old Peter Sallis, still playing grumpy old Clegg, will feature.
In its 1980s heydey, the Sunday night institution attracted audiences of 19 million. It is still an enormously successful export for the BBC, showing everywhere from Arkansas to Afghanistan.
Filmed in Holmfirth, in West Yorkshire, the show helped the town flourish after the demise of its textile industry. Every day, busloads of fans visit the Last of the Summer Wine museum and take refreshment in the Wrinkled Stocking tea room, or get their picture taken on Nora Batty’s steps.
Some Holmfirth residents ended up with parts in the programme. Ron Backhouse, who runs The White Horse, the local pub, also played the on-screen landlord for 18 years after pulling pints for the production team.
Greg Christofi, who represents Holmfirth Central for Holme Valley parish council, said the town would miss the series but was more than prepared to cope in its absence. “The programme has been really good for us, it’s brought a lot of attention to Holmfirth. We are proud of it. It has showcased our town and has been good for the local economy.”
Colin Frost, who leads Last of the Summer Wine tours, said visitor numbers this summer were up, and – despite the fact the cameras have stopped rolling – he predicted TV repeats and DVDs would win over new generations. “Ask yourself: how long have the Brontes been dead? And how busy is Haworth?” he told the BBC. “There’s still interest from all over the world. It’ll never die.”
one of my all time favorites