Looking back on a special trip to Holmfirth with Frank Thornton as ‘LOTSW’ turns 50!

Frank Thornton discusses Last of the Summer Wine high atop Holmfirth. Photo: Bill Young

Last of the Summer Wine, the long-running British situation comedy written by Roy Clarke (Open All Hours, Keeping Up Appearances, Still Open All Hours, Young Hyacinth) lasted for a mere 31 seasons encompassing 295 episodes (1973-2010) and featured the trials and tribulations of three pensioners (Bill Owen as Compo, Peter Sallis as Norman Clegg and Michael Bates as the somewhat arrogant Cyril Blamire. Brian Wilde (Walter “Foggy” Dewhurst) and Frank Thorton (Herbert “Truly” Truelove) joined the cast in later years as did Tom Owen, Bill’s real-life son and his LOTSW son.

As with many of the British comedy icons that we have been so fortunate to spend time with over the last 20+ years for our various PBS productions which started back in 2000 with our celebration of the life and career of Mollie Sugden as she turned 80, our time with Frank Thornton was something to remember for a lifetime.

Sid’s Cafe, Holmfirth. Photo: Bill Young

Our time with Frank continued through The Funny Ladies of British Comedy, The Funny Blokes of British Comedy and Fawlty Towers Revisited ending with our most recent efforts in Best of the Britcom: From Script to Screen in 2010.

Sitting on top of that hill in the picturesque town of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed and freezing while interviewing Frank during a typical Yorkshire “summer” was a time that all of us will never forget.

Always the consummate professional, Frank never mentioned the cold we experienced during the Yorkshire ‘summer’, he endured the renegade motorcycle on top of the opposing hill that seemed to enjoy wreaking havoc on our audio engineer during the interview and then took us on a tour of the town and most of the filming locations for Last of the Summer Wine including Sid’s Cafe and Nora Batty’s home.

Nora Batty’s home. Photo: Bill Young

To celebrate, , the town of Holmsfirth is going all out with a weekend of festivities this weekend for a Last of the Summer Wine: 50 Golden Summers celebration that culminates with a gala screening of the 1983 ‘Last of the Summer Wine‘ feature film, restored for the first time.

In addition to the series, fans of the series should also celebrate that talents of Roy Clarke, the only writer that LOTSW ever had for all 295 episodes. Roy also wrote all episodes of Open All Hours, Keeping Up Appearances and Still Open All Hours during his decades long career. During our trip to the West Yorkshire village of Holmfirth, we also had the great good fortune to spend some time with Roy as he told us how he, at that age of 40, was able to write for almost four decades about 3 pensioners roaming the Yorkshire countryside (that’s a great story for another day, another time).

Last of the Summer Wine’s Roy Clarke at his home in Holmfirth. Photo: Bill Young

Thank you to Roy and everyone associated with Last of the Summer Wine for a sweet, laugh-filled 50 years. Here’s to 50 more!

In: Comedy