Very Last Of The Summer Wine – The Russ Abbott Years 2009 – 2010
All good things must come to an end and unfortunately Last Of The Summer Wine was no exception. With many of the original cast having passed on the show continued to re- invent itself, but by 2008 age had caught up with the remaining members of the original cast.
Peter Sallis now only made guest appearances in each episode and Frank Thornton the same. By the time of the final series in 2010 insurance was blamed as the reason Sallis, Thornton and Jane Freeman were only able to make cameo appearances in indoor scenes as they were considered too high an insurance risk for outdoor filming due to their age.
In true Summer Wine style the show dealt with the problem by extending the roles of other cast members (a practice Roy Clarke had started after Bill Owen’s death) and the introduction of a new younger main team. Russ Abbott had joined the cast in the 2008 Christmas special as Hobbo and formed a new trio with Entwhistle (Burt Kwok) and Alvin (Brian Murphy).
Rather than throw the new team in at the deep end Roy Clarke took a different approach with the 2009 series in that whilst the show’s characters got themselves into the usual scrapes, the main thread through the series was Hobbo’s search for his long lost Mother. This gave the audience a chance to warm to the character and the new trio (although Alvin had been part of other line ups).
It was during the 2009 season that rumours began to circulate about the show’s future, however, a stay of execution was granted as the BBC announced that there would be a new series in 2010.
During the Spring of 2010 the BBC announced that the 2010 series of Last Of The Summer Wine would be the last.
Hobo and the gang returned in August. This was not the strongest series to go out on, probably a case of too many characters to get a strong storyline. For the final series Howard is the real star of the show taking on the role that Bill Owen’s Compo character used to find himself in, that of the fall guy when he finally finds himself on the wrong side of both his ladies. There are two threads and two trios running through this series. Hobbo, Entwhistle and Alvin are enlisted to help Howard who has been blown out by Marina for a rival and kicked out of his home by Pearl who feels he needs to be taught a lesson. There are some golden moments here for our new team, it could almost be Foggy and co again as Hobbo sets up one half baked plan after another to assist Howard in getting back home, all of which fail with hilarious consequences.
In the meantime Barry and Glenda have been invited to a wedding and Glenda decides Barry must go on a diet to loose weight. Finding the going tough Barry seeks solace from his next door neighbours the Golf Club Captain (Toby) and his friend Morton. Both men’s wives have left them although Toby is keen to go back to his, because she got everything. So now we have another trio to wander aimlessly round the village Barry,Toby and Morton. Toby enlists Hobbo’s help to get back to his wife, more plans that could have been hatched by Foggy himself.
During the final series we begin to see that had the series continued Hobbo could well have become one of the show’s great characters, Roy Clarke was clearly drawing on the show’s past strengths of goodwill plans that backfire with hilarious consequences for someone.