Series Three (1976) Episode Reviews

Which is your favorite Series Three episode?

  • The Man From Oswestry

    Votes: 4 25.0%
  • Mending Stuart's Leg

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • The Great Boarding-House Bathroom Caper

    Votes: 6 37.5%
  • Cheering Up Gordon

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Kink in Foggy's Niblick

    Votes: 4 25.0%
  • Going to Gordon's Wedding

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Isometrics and After

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    16

David Piper

Dedicated Member
(S03 E01) The Man From Oswestry

Original Airdate: October 27, 1976


Cyril has left and taken up with a Welsh widow woman. He writes to Clegg and Compo, requesting they welcome their returning schoolmate, Foggy Dewhurst.

“You get depressed sometimes and begin to believe there aren’t any real, old-fashioned idiots left! And then, out of the blue, comes a genuine, fourteen-karat, gilt-edged barmpot like this!”

~Norman Clegg

It’s been a year and a half since the end of Series 2.

Bill Owen employs brilliant body language in the opening, dragging himself through the empty streets before dawn like a truant schoolboy who doesn’t know what to do with his newfound spare time. Though for a scruffy herbert, Compo’s trademark jacket looks rather well tailored!

Cyril’s departure has gutted Compo. The cafe isn’t even open yet, which begs the question: Has Compo been wandering around all night? Compo commiserates with Sid, who fires a broadside at the Labour Party, reflecting the United Kingdom’s tumultuous 1970s disillusionment.

Cyril and Foggy were stationed together in Oswestry for "several months in 1947."

Ivy is not in this episode. Nora Batty is also absent.

Norman Clegg, Holmfirth’s resident flat-cap philosopher, is listless and morose. Such is his state of mind that he’s been reduced to making perfunctory remarks regarding the state of his oil-stained trousers.

Cyril Blamire, now in Oswestry, happened into Foggy Dewhurst, who was set to be demobbed. The trio know Foggy from their school days though it doesn’t appear that the four were close friends, so perhaps Dewhurst was one of their many childhood schoolmates.

There can never be enough praise for Brian Wilde’s performance. One feels immediate sympathy for Foggy, who is, like Blamire before him, back in his hometown and redundant. No wonder Cyril wrote that epic letter to Clegg, as Blamire no doubt sympathizes with Foggy’s new circumstances and wants their old schoolmate to be looked after. Cyril's letter was so well written and consistent with his character that it was tempting to include it here in its entirety. Sallis' reading of the letter is excellent.

It’s sad the way that Foggy clutches the pathetic remnants of his military career in which he served as a mere sign painter. Foggy had pride in his craft. It's no wonder he is so protective of the 2 large duffle bags and massive foot locker which hold his every possession.

Big Malcolm (Paul Luty) is Compo’s cousin. Big Malcolm quickly puts Foggy away in their fisticuffs outside the pub, but it’s obvious that Malcolm has sized-up Foggy’s threat level, as it takes just a single tap to stop Foggy in his tracks. Big Malcolm says, “If you can keep him alive, you might get some mileage out of him!” Even the fellow who administers a beating can see that Foggy will fit in just fine.

Foggy, for all his devotion to his military colors, sure suffers for them.

Clegg mentions the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975:

“The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (c. 65) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which protected men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status. The Act concerned employment, training, education, harassment, the provision of goods and services, and the disposal of premises.” [Wikipedia]

Not only does one lament Blamire’s departure–and the real-life health troubles that befell Michael Bates–but also Foggy’s introduction, which is at times positively heartbreaking. So much of that vulnerability is courtesy of Brian Wilde’s brilliant performance. The viewer meets Foggy at what is the low point in his life, compounded by the fact that Foggy wasn’t exactly leaving a grand and glorious life behind him, but it was all he had.

Foggy fights back against those who would dishonor him, but his resistance is an ineffectual one. Everyone from the agitated bus conductors to the barmaid (Paula Tilbrook; Emmerdale Farm) to Big Malcolm show little respect for Foggy. The audience titters when Foggy goes into one of his “thousand-yard stares”, but there’s little to laugh about for the majority of its 30 minutes. That is, until the hilarious–and cathartic– scene in the last act, and boy, did this viewer need it.

The well-directed (by Sydney Lotterby) sequence of Foggy running helplessly behind the cart while attached to it with his scarf is a much-needed respite from the melancholy atmosphere and even then the viewer feels for the poor fellow. Clegg and Compo follow behind, laughing not so much at Foggy’s predicament, but rather out of the relief that they once again have a “third man.”

The Man From Oswestry is a great episode, though not for comedic reasons. The episode is steeped in sadness, and the laughs are few and far between. The episode shows that Compo and Clegg are essentially grief stricken at Cyril having left, but Foggy's calamitous, sad, and ultimately hilarious arrival has lifted them out of their doldrums and up into the gleeful mischief that embodies the best of Last of the Summer Wine.


"When I had to be written out of the series because of this damned leg, in the first programme they read a letter supposed to be from me, and introducing Foggy. I must admit that when I saw the programme and heard the letter, I had tears in my eyes."

~Michael Bates

My Rating: 10/10
 
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wstol

Dedicated Member
Compo certainly was affected by Blamire leaving, and his sadness at the beginning mirrors what happened at the end of Series Two.

So well written.

I also like the moment when Compo is briefly excited when he thinks that Blamire will be on the bus. Nice touch.

The letter was the perfect way to bridge the departure of Blamire and the arrival of Foggy.

You can hear almost Michael Bates as the letter is read out, as the wording is so spot on.

I believe Michael Bates had tears in his eyes as he watched the episode.

He was ill and wanted to carry on with both LOTSW and Ain't Half Hot Mum.

He felt he could just about manage IAHHM - much to the surprise of the writers who assumed he wouldn't be back for what turned out to be his last series.
 

captain clutterbuck

LOTSW Fanatic
So much of that vulnerability is courtesy of Brian Wilde’s brilliant performance

You can see the crossover in his performance as Mr Barraclough in Porridge, which is all based around vulnerability, crossed with humour, exploited to the maximum by Fletcher, whereas in LOTSW he tries to assert his control and believes he has it with Clegg and Compo, nothing could really be farther from the truth .
 

David Piper

Dedicated Member
You can see the crossover in his performance as Mr Barraclough in Porridge, which is all based around vulnerability, crossed with humour, exploited to the maximum by Fletcher, whereas in LOTSW he tries to assert his control and believes he has it with Clegg and Compo, nothing could really be farther from the truth .
Porridge is on my list of "Must See" programs; so many favorite actors of mine appear in it. British comedy--at its best--is a vast and fascinating universe, but it's overwhelming because there's so much that didn't air in the US and later, was unavailable on R1 DVD. I'm doing a lot of catching up.

Wilde's characterization fit in well with the atmosphere at the start of The Man from Oswestry. The cafe lighting is dark and dreary, which matches Compo's demeanor and later Norman's when he enters the cafe, as he's the personification of a sigh.

Peter Wesson was the Series 3 lighting director, and and he did a fine job. I will take special notice of his efforts to see how he lights each story and how it fits in with the mood of each episode. Susan Wheal was the costume designer, but she only worked on 3 episodes, and as mentioned in the review, she elevated Compo's scruffiness to (almost) well dressed!
 

Barrychuckle

Dedicated Member
Being one of my local towns Oswestry did indeed have it's own barracks so I'm guessing Roy must have done his research. I've found a picture of Park Hall Barracks from the 1960's. A lot of the billets are still pretty much intact and the site is still regularly used as an antiques fair & can be regularly seen in BBC's Bargain Hunt

oswestry-park-hall-camp-composite-c1960_o63095.jpg
 

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maltrab

Administrator
Staff member
A true event when I worked for a small telecom firm some years ago, one of our customers was moving his business, he wanted a quote to move his current telephone system, he did not have the full address as yet but told me of was off west street. The price was agreed, and a few days later he sent us all the details for the move and ideal dates.
How we were shocked but did laugh, it was as you have probably guessed, instead of being local and off west street, it was in fact Oswestry, which is a fair few miles from Hertford, that turned out to be a very long day, what did not help by mid afternoon we had almost completed the work when the whole area had a power cut, which lasted until 6pm, so we did not leave the site until 9pm
 

David Piper

Dedicated Member
Power cuts are practically a trope of British sitcoms, especially those from the 1970s.

LotSW, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, To the Manor Born, and much later, Still Game. There must have been many more.

New York City had a major blackout in July 1977, yet it, to my knowledge, was never referenced or lampooned on TV shows filmed during the 1977-78 season. Even the hallowed original cast of Saturday Night Live didn't feature a sketch about it. Odd...
 

RickAns

Dedicated Member
Oswestry => Off West Street. Easy to miss-hear :rolling:. Hope there are multiple Hertford's in the UK. First to pop up is near London, a fair bit away.
 

Barrychuckle

Dedicated Member
I know exactly where the telephone exchange is, in fact it's right next to the old army base. You could've popped in to see Foggy!

Oswestry is probably most famous as the birthplace of the wartime poet Wilfred Owen, It's a pretty little town with some beautiful scenery around if you're every passing nearby. It's essentially the last English town & gateway to mid Wales.
 
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theatrically_inclined

Dedicated Member
I know exactly where the telephone exchange is, in fact it's right next to the old army base. You could've popped in to see Foggy!

Oswestry is probably most famous as the birthplace of the wartime poet Wilfred Owen, It's a pretty little town with some beautiful scenery around if you're every passing nearby. It's essentially the last English town & gateway to mid Wales.
Oswestry is the site of BT's (British Telecom) Worldwide Network Management Centre. This is where UK and Intenational communication routes are monitored to manage network problems and breakdowns, all displayed on a massive video screen system. You may have seen it on TV a few times, especially in shows like BBC's "Children In Need" when it is used as a "backdrop" to the fundraising appeals.

Oswestry's NMC does have its limitations. When working at BT in Oxfordshire the network engineers noticed many system failure alarms on routes between Banbury and other areas. On contacting Oswestry for their analysis of the problem, they said there were so many alarms signals they could not find the origin. It just took and engineer to drive down the road a few miles to find engineering contractors had dug up a deep level cable, intended to be deep enough to avoid being damaged. As well as phone communications the cable carried Channel 4 TV signals to some transmitters, resulting in no C4 for some areas for several days.
 

captain clutterbuck

LOTSW Fanatic
find engineering contractors had dug up a deep level cable,

Worked in networking for many years surprising how many incidences of JCB cutting through cables and taking down a section of network . We had two physical but what were considered virtual data centres connected by a Dense Wave Division Multiplex'd fibre installation which was diversely routed through the countryside between the sites to eliminate that very issue .
 

theatrically_inclined

Dedicated Member
Worked in networking for many years surprising how many incidences of JCB cutting through cables and taking down a section of network . We had two physical but what were considered virtual data centres connected by a Dense Wave Division Multiplex'd fibre installation which was diversely routed through the countryside between the sites to eliminate that very issue .
Ah, yes, the old "diverse routing ploy" ... We lost over 50% of data traffic, as the primary route went down, and there wasn't enough alternative capacity to re-route everything. The control told us to re-route what we could, using any capacity we could find! The cable that was dug up had been specially made, and it was only by chance a remnant was found in a storage depot to piece in as a repair!
 

David Piper

Dedicated Member
It looks as though the Series 3 posts were accidentally moved to the networking/telecommunications thread!

Hope the mods can fix this. :16:
 

David Piper

Dedicated Member
Like LOTSW its the Fibre of our very existence , groan :fp::tw:
I just wouldn't want the thread to look like tangled bootlaces.:16:

Speaking of The Man from Oswestry, I neglected to mention that Cyril and Foggy were stationed together for 3 months in 1947.

Clegg has a great line, "You ever get the feeling that living in the second half of the 20th century is a bit like being detained on Her Majesty's pleasure?" The line is worthy of McGoohan's Number 6. Sid and Compo say nothing in response, which allows the line to sink in (or not).
 

Marianna

Dedicated Member
I know exactly where the telephone exchange is, in fact it's right next to the old army base. You could've popped in to see Foggy!

Oswestry is probably most famous as the birthplace of the wartime poet Wilfred Owen, It's a pretty little town with some beautiful scenery around if you're every passing nearby. It's essentially the last English town & gateway to mid Wales.
It's also the birthplace of the novelist Barbara Pym. I read her novels when I need to relax; they're wonderfully soothing.
 
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