Last Of The Summer Wine – The Next Generation, 2008
We left the story in 2008 with the entry of a new character Hobbo played by Russ Abbott, he would form a new trio of central characters with Entwhistle (Burt Kwok) and Alvin (Brian Murphy).
Unfortunately 2008 brought about another tragedy, Kathy Staff who played Nora Batty, one of the show’s main characters since the very beginning, died. This was perhaps a defining moment in the show’s history, having lost Bill Owen, it now really was The Next Generation.
Truly and Clegg now become background characters, because of their age it was becoming difficult to insure the actors, this was the same with other long standing characters such as Ivy (Jane Freeman), so their parts were largely restricted to indoor scenes. The scene was set for a new set of mis-adventures.
The Final Years
The new trio had all the throw backs to the original. Hobbo, not unlike Foggy, Entwhistle keeping a low profile like Clegg and Alvin getting into various scrapes not unlike Compo.
However it was almost as if Roy Clarke knew the writing was on the wall, almost the whole series revolved around Hobbo’s search for his long lost Mother, although there were many typical Summer Wine moments.
Since the death of Bill Owen the show had cleverly moved away from stories concentrating primarily on the three main characters, introducing us to new characters, perhaps there were now too many characters to follow, the show didn’t have the same feel, the crazy stunts seemed to have disappeared it was as if the health and safety brigade had moved in. The continuing antics of Howard and Marina continued to amuse.
The final series was a build up to a wedding. There were a few hints of the old magic with Hobbo’s wild schemes for re-uniting Toby with his estranged wife and helping Howard do the same when Pearl puts him out. Perhaps if the show had continued a whole new audience might have come to it and we might of seen some of the old magic return. Summer Wine was very much a character driven show that clearly had begun to run out of steam, it had been driven by some great character actors who were no longer with us, this writer feels that just one more series to see where it could have gone would have been a more fitting end than the one it got. However thanks to the digital age we can enjoy the show from it’s beginnings on a regular basis.
Despite everything, the show remains the longest running sitcom, that alone should have prompted the BBC to at least give it one more series to see where it might have gone before just pulling the plug.
Written By: Roy Clarke
Original Transmission Dates (Russ Abbott years): 31st December 2008 – 29th August 2010