First of the Summer Wine

First of the Summer Wine is a British sitcom written by Roy Clarke that aired on BBC1. The pilot originally aired on 3 January 1988, and the first series of episodes followed on 4 September 1988. The show ran for two series of six episodes each, with the final episode airing on 8 October 1989. The pilot episode was produced and directed by Gareth Gwenlan. Both series of episodes were produced and directed by Mike Stephens. The BBC has never shown repeats of the show, although repeats do occasionally appear in the UK on satellite station Gold.[1] The show was broadcast in Australia on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation network in the early 1990s.[2]

First of the Summer Wine
First of the Summer Wine intertitle
Created byRoy Clarke
Written byRoy Clarke
Directed byGareth Gwenlan (Pilot)
Mike Stephens (Series)
StarringDerek Benfield
Sarah Dangerfield
Linda Davidson
David Fenwick
Judy Flynn
Joanne Heywood
Richard Lumsden
Paul McLain
Paul Oldham
Maggie Ollerenshaw
Helen Patrick
Peter Sallis
Gary Whitaker
Paul Wyett
Theme music composerJules Lemare (alias Charles N. Daniels)
Opening theme"Sweet and Lovely", sung by Al Bowlly, with Roy Fox and his Band
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Gareth Gwenlan (Pilot)
Mike Stephens (Series)
Running time30 minutes (per episode)
Original networkBBC1
Picture formatPAL (576i)
Original release3 January 1988 

8 October 1989
Related showsLast of the Summer Wine (1973–2010)

First of the Summer Wine was a prequel to Clarke's long running show, Last of the Summer Wine, portraying the youth of the principal characters from the mother show in the months leading up to World War II. With the possibility of war hanging over them, the young men and women enjoy their youth while trying to find a place for themselves in the world. The show used young, mostly unknown actors to play the characters, with only two actors from the original series making an appearance in the prequel.[3]


With the success of Last of the Summer Wine, the BBC approved a new series which Roy Clarke would carry over characters of the original show.[1] With the new series, Clarke hoped to show the lives of his characters as they were in the "first summer" of their lives, as opposed to the last summer depicted in Last of the Summer Wine. While there would still be the "shadow of the Grim Reaper" hanging over them, this time it would be because of World War II, not due to their old age.[4]

For the new series, Clarke used mostly young, inexperienced actors to fill the roles of the characters carried over from the original series. The actors were required to mimic the vocal characteristics and mannerisms already established in Last of the Summer Wine to create a continuity between the two series.[4]

The show features much 1920s and 1930s music, which adds to the nostalgic feel of the show. The theme tune is "Sweet and Lovely", sung by Al Bowlly, accompanied by Roy Fox and his Band. The recording was made in London on 18 September 1931.[1]


First of the Summer Wine followed a group of young men and women, some of whom were adapted from Last of the Summer Wine, with others being specifically created for the new show. The men consisted of Paul Wyett as the scruffy and immature Compo Simmonite; David Fenwick as meek and deep-thinking Norman Clegg; Paul McLain as snobbish ladder-climber Seymour Utterthwaite; Richard Lumsden as the eager soldier Foggy Dewhurst; Gary Whitaker as the love-smitten Wally Batty; and Paul Oldham as their friend, Sherbert. The women consisted of Helen Patrick as the object of Wally's affections, Nora Renshaw; Sarah Dangerfield as Ivy; Joanne Heywood as Dilys, Judy Flynn as Lena, and Linda Davidson as Anita Pillsworth.[5]

The adults around the young people act as supporting characters. Peter Sallis and Maggie Ollerenshaw play David and Violet Clegg, Norman's parents. Derek Benfield portrays Mr Scrimshaw, the manager of the shop where Ivy, Dilys, Sherbert, Norman and Seymour work.[5]


First of the Summer Wine takes place between May and September 1939, in the months leading up to World War II.[2] The series revolves around the diary entries of the young Norman Clegg. Each episode begins with him resting on his bedroom windowsill and greeting the day; the words "the diary of Norman Clegg, aged 18 years" introduce the theme of each episode.

Episodes revolve around the antics of the young men of a small Yorkshire village and their usually level-headed female counterparts, all of whom are grappling with the world around them, their youth, and their experiences with the opposite sex. With rumblings of war on the European continent as Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Great Britain become increasingly poised for war, the lives of the young men and women will be changed forever.[2]

The scenario uses retroactive continuity. In Last of the Summer Wine, Seymour is introduced in later series, and is initially unknown to the other central characters.[6]


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
173 January 1988 (1988-01-03)9 October 1988 (1988-10-09)
263 September 1989 (1989-09-03)8 October 1989 (1989-10-08)

Series 1 (1988)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"First of the Summer Wine"Mike StephensRoy Clarke3 January 1988 (1988-01-03)

Clegg has to be helped home after a game of football with his cousin Brad.

Seymour calls on Miss Deborah Norbury to take her for a 'spin' in his car. Unfortunately, she gets oil on her dress and storms back into her house after a few minutes. On Sunday, after church and tea, the lads go for a walk in the hills and encounter Foggy on guard duty. After work the next day, the gang visit the local cinema before congregating at the Hygienic Fisheries.[5]
22"Taller Exercises"Mike StephensRoy Clarke4 September 1988 (1988-09-04)
Clegg meets Wally, who has started doing special exercises in a bid to become taller. He's hanging from the parapet of a bridge until he loses his grip and falls into the river. Back at work, Wally and Compo join the lads In the Co-op cellar for a 'fag break'. That evening, the gang go to the cinema. In an effort to impress Nora, they hold Wally by the legs and dangle him over the balcony. All of them are thrown out.[5]
33"The Just Doesn't Suit"Mike StephensRoy Clarke11 September 1988 (1988-09-11)

Clegg and Sherbet have to deliver a roll of lino to the home of Miss Deborah Norbury. Seymour asks them to deliver a letter to the young lady. When they try to make the delivery, Mrs Norbury insists that they have brought the wrong lino, so they have to return to the shop. Mr Scrimshaw has to go out to a meeting, so he leaves Seymour in charge. He persuades Clegg to take his place so that he can help Sherbet to deliver the replacement lino to the Norbury's house.

While Seymour is away, Clegg has to measure a man for a new suit. He makes a complete mess of things. When the customer returns for a final fitting, the suit is two sizes too small.[5]
44"The Way of the Warrior"Mike StephensRoy Clarke18 September 1988 (1988-09-18)
Clegg's dad is in a panic because his wife is dragging him off to the Co-op to buy a new suit. Compo has annoyed Chunky Livesey and now lives in fear of retribution. Mr Clegg goes to be measured for his new suit. He's surprised to learn that one of his shoulders is lower than the other. Chunky Livesey catches up with Compo and arranges to meet him in the park after dark for a fight. Compo 'persuades' Foggy to take his place. When Chunky turns up with a gang of his mates, the lads decide to beat a hasty retreat.[7]
55"Snuff and Stuff"Mike StephensRoy Clarke25 September 1988 (1988-09-25)
Clegg, Seymour and Sherbet suspect that Mr Scrimshaw is sneaking off to the gents' fitting room to take snuff. They wonder where he hides his snuff box. The lads persuade Wally Batty to pretend to be a customer trying on some trousers. He bursts into the fitting room just in time to see Mr Scrimshaw hiding his snuff under the seat of a chair. The boys put strong pepper in Mr Scrimshaw's snuff but it doesn't seem to have any effect on him. Next, they add mouse droppings. This doesn't seem to work either, though when Mr Scrimshaw gets home he can't understand why his cat is so interested in his moustache.[7]
66"The Great Indoors"Mike StephensRoy Clarke2 October 1988 (1988-10-02)
The lads decide to spend the weekend camping in the hills. Foggy finds a place to pitch their tent – in a dilapidated barn. They try to light a fire but only succeed in filling the barn with smoke. They take a trip to the nearest pub. When they get back to the barn, they find it full of cows, so they decide to pack up and go home. On the way home, they get Seymour to tow their handcart behind his car. His brakes fail and the car ends up in a ditch.[8]
77"Youth Wanted"Mike StephensRoy Clarke9 October 1988 (1988-10-09)
Mr Scrimshaw is advertising for a youth for light duties. Compo decides to apply for the job but Scrimshaw turns him down. Clegg's mother helps Compo to smarten himself up and gives him one of her husband's old suits. Scrimshaw still doesn't think he's 'suitable' for a job at the Co-op. Clegg, Sherbet and Seymour are having a 'fag break' in the cellar at the Co-op store. Compo joins them. Two men from head office make a surprise visit to check on air-raid precautions. Mr Scrimshaw takes them down to the cellar where they find the lads in the middle of their break. The men from head office want to know what Compo is doing there. Clegg tells them that he's a new member of staff. Mr Scrimshaw is in no position to contradict him.[9]

Series 2 (1989)

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
81"Not Thee Missus"Mike StephensRoy Clarke3 September 1989 (1989-09-03)
Compo is washing the windows at the Co-op store. Clegg, Seymour and Sherbet swap his bucket of clean water for one containing dirty water. Foggy's mother takes him to the Co-op to buy new pajamas. Mr Scrimshaw suggests a pair 'with a stronger gusset'. Seymour is still pining for Deborah Norbury. Compo suggests a plan to help Seymour out. He'll jump out of hiding in front of the young lady, allowing Seymour to come to her rescue. The plan goes wrong when Compo jumps out in front of Mrs Norbury by mistake.[9]
92"Compo Drops In"Mike StephensRoy Clarke10 September 1989 (1989-09-10)
The gang discuss the previous night's Co-op dance. Clegg is rather embarrassed because Anita Pilsworth from Accounts walked him home. Compo bemoans the fact that he can't foxtrot. He practices with a shop dummy, thus annoying Mr Scrimshaw. Wally is still failing to impress Nora with his new motorbike, mainly because it falls over whenever he gets off. Seymour declares his intention to become a fighter pilot once the war starts. He asks Foggy what qualifications he would need. Foggy says that he would have to be able to spin around at high speed. The lads spin him round in Mr Scrimshaw's office chair. He ends up dizzy and very unsteady on his feet. Mr Scrimshaw thinks he's been drinking. The gang go to the cinema. Compo has no money, so he tries to sneak in through a rooftop window. He ends up dangling in front of the screen and is caught by the commissionaire.[9]
103"The Gypsy Fiddler"Mike StephensRoy Clarke17 September 1989 (1989-09-17)
The lads are all feeling stiff after pushing a gypsy caravan belonging to Compo's mother. Anita Pilsworth is still chasing Clegg. Foggy is practicing camouflage techniques. He's talked into pretending to be a shop-window dummy and he subsequently manages to startle Wally. Compo devises a plan to help Wally by dressing up as a gypsy fortune-teller and convincing Nora that she'll marry a "short miserable little nit wearing an LNER cap". All goes well until the caravan rolls away, dragging Compo past the girls and revealing the identity of the fortune-teller.[9]
114"Ain't Love Dangerous"Mike StephensRoy Clarke24 September 1989 (1989-09-24)
Deborah Norbury is unwell, so Seymour decides to take her a box of chocolates. He just needs to find a way of getting past her mother. Clegg's mother is upset because Mr Clegg's new Air-Raid Warden's uniform has arrived. It consists of an armband, a tin helmet and a whistle. With the help of the lads, Seymour tries climbing a ladder to Deborah Norbury's bedroom window so that he can deliver the chocolates. He only succeeds in scaring the young lady. Compo has been seeing Chunky Livesey's girlfriend. At the cinema, Compo learns that Chunky is waiting for him outside. He manages to sneak out with Wally sitting on his shoulders, wearing a long trench coat.[10]
125"The Body Snatchers"Mike StephensRoy Clarke1 October 1989 (1989-10-01)
The lads convince Foggy that they have 'borrowed' a dead body from the Co-op funeral service. It's actually Wally wrapped in a sheet. Mr Scrimshaw spends most of the day setting up a display of tins, only to see it collapse at closing time. At the cinema, Seymour learns that Deborah Norbury is upstairs in the circle. He goes up to see her but is tripped by Lena. He falls into Deborah's lap and she walks out on him. Compo is thrown out of the cinema. He tries to sneak back in through the window in the gents' lavatory. He manages to pull a cistern off the wall and gets soaked.[11]
136"Quiet Wedding"Mike StephensRoy Clarke8 October 1989 (1989-10-08)
Dilys and Brad are getting married. The lads travel to the registry office on Compo's old motorbike and sidecar, which keeps tipping up. At the reception, Compo has to sit with his trousers around his ankles because he's got oil all over them. Mr Clegg reads out the telegrams, one of which is from Brad's airbase, recalling him to duty. Later, the lads go for a walk and find Foggy guarding a bridge. He shows them his new bayonet, but manages to drop it into the river. Compo is lowered over the bridge using Seymour's long scarf. He falls in but manages to retrieve the missing bayonet. Next morning, war is declared on Germany.[11]

Home video releases

Series Originally aired Region 2 (UK) Region 4 (Aus)
1 1988 6 June 2011[12] 1 September 2011[13]
2 1989 18 June 2012[14] 10 April 2013[15]

See also


  1. "First of the Summer Wine – Special Article". Summer Wine Online. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  2. "First of the Summer Wine – Uncovered!". Summer Wine Online. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  3. Bright and Ross (2000), p. 28
  4. "First of the Summer Wine". BBC Guide to Comedy. Archived from the original on 3 October 2003. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  5. Bright and Ross (2000), p. 160
  6. "First of the Summer Wine, Uncovered". Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  7. Bright and Ross (2000), p. 161
  8. Bright and Ross (2000), pp. 161–162
  9. Bright and Ross (2000), p. 162
  10. Bright and Ross (2000), pp. 162–163
  11. Bright and Ross (2000), p. 163
  12. "The First of the Summer Wine - Series One [DVD]: David Fenwick, Paul Wyett, Peter Sallis, Paul McLain, Maggie Ollerenshaw, Derek Benfield, Sarah Dangerfield, Joanne Heywood, Richard Lumsden, Gary Whitaker, Mike Stephens: Film & TV". Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  13. "First Of The Summer Wine - Series 1". DVD Warehouse. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  14. "First of the Summer Wine - Series Two [DVD]: Peter Sallis: Film & TV". Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  15. "First Of The Summer Wine : Series 2". DVD Warehouse. Retrieved 2 March 2014.


  • Bright, Morris; Ross, Robert (6 April 2000). Last of the Summer Wine: The Finest Vintage. London: BBC Worldwide. ISBN 0-563-55151-8.
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