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The following is a list of characters in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. The series focused primarily on a trio of old men and their interaction with other characters in the town. Due to the longevity of the series it was often necessary to replace key characters due to an actor's death, illness, or unavailability for other reasons. Many characters were first seen in "one-off" appearances and were popular enough or felt to have enough potential for them to be brought back as regulars, in some instances replacing previous members of the cast.
|Foggy||Brian Wilde||Brian Wilde|
|Nora||Kathy Staff||Kathy Staff|
(1973–2000) - Dressed in scruffy trousers and Wellington boots, Compo rarely (if ever) worked for a living, preferring the lazy life. The name probably derived from the term 'compo', a shortened version of 'compensation', sometimes used to refer to people living off compensation for an industrial injury. A great physical comedian, Compo was often the butt of jokes arising from the many dirty jobs, stunts, and escapades that were a central feature of the series. Another recurring theme was Compo's affection for his next-door neighbour, Nora Batty, whose 'wrinkled stockings' frequently inflamed him. He had something, never shown, in a matchbox which was unimaginably horrible, judging by the reactions of people who saw it (usually Nora Batty).
Compo leads a seemingly idyllic lifestyle, chatting and bickering with others, betting on horses, and playing with his ferrets. In fact, Compo was written as a fragile underdog, with a childlike addiction to fun and the joys of living. He thrives on the authority and argument he gets from the third member of the trio, as is evident from the regret he expresses in his moping around the café after the departure of Blamire in the third series episode, "The Man from Oswestry."
Compo was written out of the series in 2000 following the death of Bill Owen the year before. Owen's role was padded by body doubles and re-used & dubbed footage. Although Compo was already seriously ill, according to Truly and Clegg, it was the sight of Nora Batty in chorus girl clothes that finished him off, but he died with a smile on his face (as claimed by Truly, Clegg, and Nora).
Compo was referred to as 'Uncle Bill' by his nephew Gordon Simmonite in episodes in 1976, and soon after his death a solicitors' letter arrived addressed to "William Simmonite Esq". These seem to be the only references to his birth name. In "Beware the Oglethorpe", he refers to himself as Bill Simmonite, while in "Whose dancing with Nora Batty then?" he refers himself as Willie Simmonite when he points to a graffiti carving he made. When annoyed or insulted Compo often responded by blowing a raspberry or giving a "V" sign.
In The Glory Hole, it is revealed that Compo doesn't remember his wife, as she ran off with 'a chuffin' Pole!'
(1973–2010) Pessimistic, with a wry sense of humour. Clegg aims for a quiet respectable retirement following his redundancy from his job as a lino salesman, but is continually involved in the schemes of Foggy and the others. Despite having been married for 31 years - he is now a widower; his wife Edith was deceased when the series began - Clegg fearfully shies away from women. Perfectly content reading alone in his cosy home, he also finds fascination in some of the simpler things in life, such as Sid's skirting board. He is also so reserved and shy that he wears several layers of clothing: vest/long johns, shirt, jumper/sweater, waistcoat/suit vest, jacket/sport coat, and finally a plastic mac, which he just carries when it's not windy or raining. He is also the only one of the trio with a driving licence and so occasionally finds himself reluctantly pressured into driving on the very rare occasions that they are not merely strolling about locally and manage to find a vehicle but no driver. This invariably results in a panic attack for Clegg, who fumbles about with the gears and pedals uncontrollably, limiting his speed to about 3 mph (5 km per hour) (which is just to his liking).
Clegg was the sounding-board for Compo's glee and the third man's authority, and was often instrumental in pointing out the pitfalls concealed within the schemes of the third man. Clegg is also well known for his philosophical asides, which have received praise for interjecting intellectual material into the series. In early episodes, Clegg was much more forthright and adventurous. Within a few years he became more retiring and cautious (although he was still seen to relish the odd practical joke or escapade), and the group came to be dominated by Foggy and the "third men" who succeeded him. In the two final series he became a secondary character, as Sallis and Frank Thornton were now over 80, leading to complications over insurance when on location filming, so his role was filled by Entwistle. He was the only character to appear in every single episode of the programme.
(1973–1975) The first third man, and the most childishly argumentative, Blamire was the contrast to Compo. Blamire was fired up by displays of youthful enthusiasm, energetic gusto, or any sign of the British spirit. He served as a corporal in the British Army in the Royal Signals regiment during "The Great Fight for Freedom" as a supply wallah (a storeman) in India and retains his military bearing. He was a Tory and a self-important know-it-all with upper-class aspirations who often dissociated himself from the other two, especially Compo, owing to his perceived superiority to them. Because of his sophisticated interests and insistence on table manners, Compo liked to refer to him as a "poof". In spite of this, Compo and Blamire were close, as illustrated by Compo's misery in the episodes immediately following his departure. When Bates left the cast in 1975 due to cancer that left him too ill to perform in any projects aside from his other successful sitcom, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Blamire was written out of the series; it was said that he had left to get married and the last we hear of him is a very organised letter, instructing Clegg and Compo to meet their old classmate, Foggy Dewhurst.
(1976–1985, 1990–1997) The successor to Blamire, Foggy was a former soldier who liked to boast of his military exploits in Burma during the Second World War (in fact, he was a sign-writer).
Although he considered himself very regimental and heroic, when confronted Foggy was generally meek and incompetent. Like the previous third man- and all subsequent third men- he considered himself the leader of the trio, and frequently took charge of Compo and Clegg. Foggy Dewhurst was infamous for trying to figure out a solution to the trio's everyday problems, only to make them much worse. In earlier years Foggy wore a scarf with regimental colours on it. When Wilde left the series in 1985 to star in his own sitcom as well as to pursue other TV work, it was explained that Foggy had moved to Bridlington to take over his family's egg-painting business.
Returning in 1990 following the impromptu departure of Michael Aldridge, he claimed he had tired of a life of egg painting, and wanted to return to his old life. In 1997, when Wilde's illness prevented him from taking part in the series, he was written out in the Special, "There Goes the Groom", (in which the character was only seen in brief, non-face shots, played by a double; this episode also introduced his successor, Truly).
An unconscious, hung-over Foggy was swept off to Blackpool by the local postmistress. There he inadvertently proposed to her in a verbal slip-up over the wedding rings of which he had taken charge "for safe keeping" (out of the dubious care of Best Man, Barry). But he must have at least liked her, as he was never heard from again after that. Foggy's real first name was revealed to be Walter (with the middle initial "C"); "Foggy" is a nickname, derived from the traditional song "The Foggy Foggy Dew", aided perhaps by the fact that, in his earlier episodes, he would occasionally "blank out" everything around him to help himself to concentrate, particularly when he was thinking up new ideas or finding solutions to problems. This is particularly noticeable in the episode "The Man from Oswestry". In one of his earlier episodes, his is hinted to be Oliver when Clegg finds one of his old army trunks with the initials 'COD'. (Owing to the fact he was a corporal in the army). Due to his dislike of Compo's attire and nature he was often seen making insults of disgust to Clegg and often addressed Compo as "him" or "that man".
Foggy was played by Colin Harris in 'There Goes The Groom'.
(1986–1990) The first successor to Foggy. A snobbish inventor, Edie and Ros' brother Seymour always often felt it was his duty in life to educate the masses, and in particular, Compo and Clegg, to whom he was reintroduced by his brother-in-law, Wesley Pegden (who often called him a pillock), shortly before the wedding of Wesley's daughter. Seymour went to school with Clegg and Compo but lost touch when he went to grammar school. Whereas Cyril and Foggy tried to solve the problems of the residents of Holmfirth, when Seymour was around he always liked to invent, but the resulting inventions invariably led to disaster—especially for Compo, who was always the reluctant test subject and called him a twit whenever anything went disastrously wrong. Despite this, he was well-liked by the other two and was more willing to play along with their childish antics than his predecessors. He did have occasional bouts of bravery as in one episode he contradicted Pearl, Ivy and Nora Batty in one sitting for which Clegg, Compo and a random passerby heartily congratulate him.
Seymour usually blamed the failure of his inventions on divine punishment for his once having had an affair with a barmaid. Seymour's house, outside the town, was modified into a laboratory, filled with new devices and contraptions that seldom, if ever, worked properly. His sister, Edie, always spoke very highly of him and how he was 'educated', refusing to take into account his continual failed inventions. Seymour had previously been the headmaster of a school, although it is not entirely clear how successful he was in running it. He sometimes appears to take an unhealthy delight in corporal punishment, and is appalled to hear that it has been prohibited.
When Aldridge left the series in 1990 for personal reasons, Seymour was last seen leaving on a bus to take up a new job as interim headmaster at a private school—just as previous third man Foggy returned.
There were allegedly plans for Seymour to make a comeback, but Michael Aldridge died in 1994. The character was never alluded to again.
(1997–2010) The second (and last) successor to Foggy, A retired policeman with a pompous self-importance in all things criminal, Truly is more relaxed, fun-loving, and can be more of an equal match at the local pub than his predecessors as third man . He can also be a bit more devious with practical jokes or witty schemes. Likewise, he can be equally sly in getting people out of a scrape or just helping out a friend. He is divorced, and makes disparaging comments about "the former Mrs Truelove" (who evidently feels the same way about him, judging by the reaction of her new husband, who appears in one episode, to Truly. The former Mrs Truelove is an unseen character.). Because of his previous involvement with the police, Truly refers to himself as "Truly of the Yard", he was also once misheard and thought to have said he was "trudy"(of the Yard). In the two final series he is demoted to a secondary character along with Norman Clegg, so his role as third man was filled by Hobbo.
(1999, 2000, 2001–2006) Billy Hardcastle was first introduced in the 1999 series as a guest star and also appeared in the 2000 New Year's special and a guest role in the 2000 series. Because of his popularity, he was made a regular character in the 2001 series.
Billy believes he is a direct descendant of Robin Hood. His first appearance on the show showed him attempting to recruit a band of Merry Men to go with him while he robs from the rich to give to the poor. At the end of the 21st series, Billy moves next door to Truly and is teamed as the third member of the trio. When Billy joined with Clegg and Truly, much of the humour Compo previously brought to the series returned in Billy's childlike demeanour, although an element of physical humour was still lacking in the series. Much of his dialogue bemoaned the domestic presence of "the wife" or "the wife's sister",(two other characters who are never seen, only referred to). Billy was last seen at the end of the 27th series following the departure of Keith Clifford from the show and the character was never alluded to again.
(2003–2010) Alvin Smedley was introduced in the 2003 series as Nora Batty's new next door neighbour following the death of Compo. When Tom's former acquaintance, Mrs. Avery, gives up the lease she owns on Compo's old house, Alvin purchases it. Although he publicly claims to hate Nora Batty, he feels it is his duty to try to bring some joy to her life, often in the form of practical jokes similar to those Compo once played on her. In the 2005 series he joined the main trio thus making them a quartet but after the 2006 series following Billy Hardcastle's departure the quartet once again became a trio although in the 2007 and 2008 series he was mostly teamed up with Entwistle. In the final two series he and Entwistle teamed up with Hobbo, thus making a new trio.
(2002–2010) Electrician and fortune-teller from the land of eastern wisdom, Hull. His original surname was McIntyre, but he changed it so that people wouldn't mistake him for a Scotsman. When Wesley died, Entwistle took over his job of shuttling the others across the countryside, in a battered red Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, and occasionally constructing the various contraptions the main trio produce. He also seemed to be taking over a character version of Auntie Wainwright, although he mainly sold second-hand washing machines.
Following the departure of Billy Hardcastle in series 28, Entwistle was often paired with Alvin, with many stories revolving around their dealings with Howard or Barry. In series 30 and 31, Entwistle became the second man in a new trio when Hobbo arrived and recruited Alvin and Entwistle to form a band of volunteers to respond to emergencies in the village.
(2008–2010) Hobbo is a former milkman with ties to MI5 who was first introduced in the 2008 New Years special, to set up his role in the upcoming 30th series. He is Clegg's new next door neighbour. Upon first arriving in the village, Hobbo recruits Alvin and Entwistle to form a small band of volunteers who will react to any emergency that arises in the village, thus forming a new trio. Hobbo is incredibly cautious, and always on the lookout for enemy attack. He fondly remembers his time spent with MI5, when he used to leap from aeroplanes ("Holding crates of milk?" asks Entwistle) and dive for cover from enemy fire. Clegg and Truly recall that Hobbo was never much of a milkman but was exemplary at needlework. He was also one of the last new characters to be introduced to the series.
(1973, 1975, 1976–2001, 2002, 2003–2008) Compo's next door neighbour, Nora was proudly devoted to strict housework, and stood as a monument to classic northern women. During her marriage she used to keep her husband, Wally, under her thumb (sometimes as a punishment). Despite Nora's gruff manner (and famously wrinkled stockings) Compo was desperately in love with her, with a lust that is used to generate comic situations as he comes up with various plots and schemes to try to impress Nora (a plot device that was used a great many times, particularly from the mid-1980s until Compo's death).
Although initially a stern Northern "battleaxe", Nora showed on occasion, particularly as the years passed, that underneath she is actually a rather caring and kind woman—although she doesn't openly promote the fact. She even seemed to grow fond of Compo- in the 1996 Christmas special "Extra! Extra!", she was bowled over at the sight of him in military uniform. She also seemed very flattered when Compo sang about his feelings for her at a concert in the previous year's Christmas special. In the few instances where Compo didn't make a remark about her wrinkled stockings she showed concern, believing that something was wrong with him.
When Bill Owen died in July 1999, Staff initially announced her plans to leave the series, feeling that it would not be the same without him. With the introduction of Compo's son Tom (played by his real life son Tom Owen), however, she was persuaded to stay. Staff actually left the series in 2001, to reprise her role as cleaner Doris Luke in the doomed (and failed) revival of the ITV soap opera Crossroads, with Nora said to be emigrating to Australia.
When Crossroads folded, Staff returned, with nothing said about Nora's trip to Australia or her sudden return. She continued to play the character until shortly before her untimely death in December 2008. With Staff unable to appear in Series 30 because of ill health, Nora was again said to have left for Australia, this time to care for her elder sister, Madge. In an early Series 4 episode, it is revealed she has another sibling in Australia, Billy, who (as Compo says) 'has been dying for the past fifteen years'. She also has another sister, Clara, as shown in another early Christmas Special. This shows that she has four siblings: Madge, Billy, Clara and Stella.
(1975, 1976, 1977–1987) Nora's perennially shell-shocked husband and Compo's next-door neighbour, Wally Batty was a short quiet man, kept on a short leash by his wife. His relationship with Nora stood in stark contrast to Compo's unrequited lust after her; in fact, he often welcomed the prospect of Compo running off with her. Initially mentioned but not seen, he first appeared on screen in 1975. He was generally seen doing chores or stealing a quick moment away from Nora at the pub. Wally had a passion for racing pigeons and owned a motorbike and sidecar, occasionally taking Nora for a spin around the countryside. With the death of Joe Gladwin in 1987, Wally died off screen, but he is still occasionally mentioned. (Note: in the pilot episode of the series, which was part of the Comedy Playhouse strand, Nora referred to her unseen husband as Harold, not Wally.) Joe Gladwin last appeared in series 9. He died within days before the broadcasting of the series began.
(2008–2010) Stella is Nora's sister, she first appeared in the 2008 New Years Special, I Was A Hitman for Primrose Dairies as a replacement for and to compensate for the death of English actress Kathy Staff, (who was unable to continue her role as Nora owing to ill health).
With Nora having departed for Australia, Stella moved in to house-sit for her sister, and had become a new member of the elder women's talking circle. She is a former pub landlady and appears to take a more free-spirited approach to life than Nora, as evidenced by her brighter wardrobe and hair. The storyline in her first episode saw her trying to give up smoking, and her yearning for a cigarette has continued unabated into subsequent episodes.
Stella has four siblings: Madge, Billy, Clara and Nora (See Nora Batty).
In the episode "Get Out of That, Then" Young wore a brown wig and played the part of Florrie, wife of Barry's cousin Lenny (Bobby Ball).
(1973–2010) joint owner of tea-shop with husband Sid, with whom she would often have blazing rows in the kitchen, until his death. She later ran it alone, and viciously scolded anyone who dared misbehave or criticise the food. Generally the wisest and most level-headed of the show's female social circle, she was also on occasion a target of Compo's (unwanted) affection, who often said that if it wasn't for Nora Batty, he'd be all over her. When taking into account Kathy Staff's brief exit from the show in 2001 and later absence from series 30 to series 31 (see above), Jane Freeman as Ivy is the only character other than Clegg (Peter Sallis) to have been present throughout the course of the series (although Clegg is the only one to have appeared in every single episode), since she was not present in the final episode of the last series.
(1973–1983), bluff tea-shop owner, who featured prominently for the first ten years, before his death in 1984. Ivy remembers him fondly, and often mentions him in conversation. Sid was one of the few characters who actually seemed to enjoy getting involved in the misadventures of the three central characters, and often saw them as an excuse to get out of the cafe for a few hours. Like Wally Batty he often welcomed Compo's affection for his wife. In one episode he remarks that he "can't help admiring [Compo's] nerve".
Ivy and Sid often shouted and argued with each other (and Ivy was never shy about bringing up Sid's infidelity), but, as with many of the show's couples, there was little doubt that they loved each other.
For John Comer's last ever appearance, in the 1983 feature-length Christmas special, 'Getting Sam Home', illness caused by cancer affected his speech, and so his lines were dubbed over by another actor, Tony Melody. Comer died two months later in February 1984. Sid's death was not referred to until "Uncle of the Bride" on New Year's Day 1986.
In the 2000 episode "Just a Small Funeral" as Ivy is getting ready for Compo's funeral, she finds a photo of Sid in her handbag.
(1984, 1985–1987) Sid and Ivy's giant, lumbering and very strong nephew, who looked like a younger version of his own late uncle.
The character first brought in towards the end of 1984, to compensate for the death of John Comer (who played Sid on the show). Crusher helped his widowed auntie Ivy out in the cafe for 3½ years. His real name was Milburn, but he insisted on being called "Crusher". He was influenced by the Rock and Rollers of the 1950s and was into heavy metal music. Well-meaning but not overly bright, he was rather easily led. Crusher was first seen in the touring stage show around 1984 before being introduced into the 8th series. In the 1988 Christmas Special "Crums" he was shown to have a girlfriend named Fran (played by Yvette Fielding) who, according to Ivy, was as daft as he is.
However Crusher did not return in the tenth series, as Jonathan Linsley left the show to work on other TV projects: most of the character's humour came from the contrast between his menacing size and his total harmlessness. Following his departure in early 1988 (after the 1987 Christmas special), Ivy ran the cafe alone (with occasional help from Nora Batty).
(Tony Haygarth, 1973) A forgotten character, Chip was Compo's nephew from the first series episode 3 Pate and Chips. Chip and his wife Connie played by Margaret Nolan, with their children and dog, take the Yorkshire trio to a large country home for a 'bit of culture' in a cramped van for transport. When they arrive at the country home Cyril points out that Chip hasn't renewed his car tax since 1967.
(Paul Luty, 1976) Big Malcolm is revealed to be, in "The Man From Oswestry" Compo's cousin and he appeared in just two 1976 episodes. Within hours of his arrival in "The Man from Oswestry", Foggy is unfortunate enough to let Big Malcolm overhear him in a pub, saying he will fight to the death anyone who mocks his regimental scarf. Foggy is taken outdoors by Big Malcolm and returns the worse for wear. Several episodes later, Malcolm is one of the family guests in "Going to Gordon's Wedding".
(Philip Jackson, 1976) An oft-forgotten character, Gordon was Compo's gormless fishing-obsessed nephew, and appeared in a few 1976 episodes, joining the trio on a Bank Holiday trip to Scarborough. He became friendly with a young woman named Josie whilst in Scarborough, and married her in a later episode. In some ways he was a prototype of Barry, who was introduced in the mid-1980s. When he is married, it is revealed he has a sister, Julie. In the same episode his mother states to him that he's "queer", much to his annoyance, as he reveals that he knows there's been some rumors to that effect.
(Liz Goulding, 1976) Another oft-forgotten character, Josie met Compo's nephew Gordon in the trio's Bank Holiday trip to Scarborough. She and Gordon go back to Gordon's room at the Guest House at which they are staying, and start a game of chess. In a later episode, she and Gordon marry, but as the wedding turns more and more disastrous, she turns more and more into her rather foreboding and complaining mother, Madge (Joan Scott). It is unknown what became of her and Gordon after the wedding.
(Margaret Burton, 1976) Compo's sister-in-law, and Gordon's mother. A forgotten character, Dolly appeares as the flustering mother of Gordon and her other child, Julie. She is flamboyent in her dress, and screeches instead of shouts. She is the object of Big Malcolm and Eric's, affections, and hits both Malcolm and Eric with her handbag when they attempt to drag her to two different seats at once. It is revealed her husband, Compo's brother, left her with Julie and Gordon a few years back. Like Gordon and Josie, it is unknown what happened to her after Gordon's wedding.
(Barry Hart, 1976) Eric's exact relationship to Compo is unknown, and he only appears in one episode, but he is shown to have feelings for Gordon's mother Dolly, and that he drinks a lot, and almost gets in a fight with Big Malcolm. In his only appearance, he is a guest at Gordon's wedding. Eric is also referred to, but not seen, in the episode of the first series, "Short Back and Palais Glide." When the trio are in the police station whilst looking for Mr Wainwright, the desk sergeant asks Compo, "How's your Eric?"
(Tom Owen, 2000–2010) Compo's long-lost son, arriving just after his father’s death, Tom is played by Bill Owen’s real-life son. Tom is a layabout like Compo but seems a bit more enterprising in his attempts to maintain his slothful lifestyle. Originally it was planned that Tom would fill the gap in the three-man line-up left by his father, but it was soon felt that this line-up did not quite work. For most of his time in the series, he was paired with Smiler working for Auntie Wainwright, and also, in one episode, goes to live with Smiler (though it's not clear if this continued). Of the duo, he designates himself the 'leader' and the planner (often leaving Smiler to struggle with Auntie Wainwright's antiquated hand-cart while he strolls on ahead), although in truth, he is not particularly bright himself. After Smiler was written out of the series, Tom continued to work for Aunty Wainwright until the conclusion of the show's run. Clegg and Truly often take advantage of his desire to live up to his father's reputation in order to convince him to do rather stupid things. After the death of Compo, Nora feels somewhat maternal towards Tom, and often showers him with affection—much to the embarrassment of Tom. He also has a scruffy puppet dog called Waldo which he aspires to use in an unconvincing ventriloquist act. When not working for Auntie Wainwright, Tom can usually be found in his allotment shed, avoiding the repo man. When he first arrived in the series, Tom also had a tatty old yellow Renault van, but this was seen in only a couple of his early appearances. (Note: For some years before joining the series as Tom Simmonite, Tom Owen sometimes appeared in small walk-on parts on the show (for instance appearing on the 1991 Christmas special), sometimes with no dialogue, and not always credited.)
(Julie T. Wallace, 2000–2001) Tom's live-in "associate"; much larger than him, and something of a battle-axe, yet rather easily manipulated. Although Tom always insisted that she was merely an acquaintance, Mrs Avery always wanted more, and was under the impression that Tom had promised to marry her. After a brief spell of living in the pair's bus, they moved into the deceased Compo's home, next-door to Nora Batty. During her stay at Compo's home, she began a rivalry with Nora, often copying each other (cleaning their windows or vacuuming their rugs). This was not to last; she threw him out and disappeared from the series after only a year on the show.
(Helen Turaya, 2000) Arriving on the scene with Tom Simmonite was Babs, Mrs. Avery's niece and a rather large and troublesome teenager who was involved in several of Tom's schemes. The character was so unpopular with viewers that she was ditched after just three episodes - her disappearance is never accounted for in the show.
Seymour Utterthwaite was the third man of the trio from 1986 to 1990. He left the series in 1990 when Foggy Dewhurst returned to the show, but his family had gained so much popularity themselves that they remained on the show.
(1982, 1984, 1985–2002) Edie's husband, who spent all his time in his workshop/garage.
In one of the most popular and often reused scenes in the series, Edie would call Wesley in from his garage (after much shouting, first in gentle 'posh' tones, before ending up in harsh yelling) and would lay down a trail of newspaper for him to stand on—often putting one on the wall just in time as he leant against it. Wesley generally kept out of Edie's way in his garage, restoring old motors.
The character first appeared in the 1982 episode 'Car and Garter' in a cameo role. The writer and producers liked him so much that they brought him back for the 1984 Christmas Special 'The Loxley Lozenge' and again twice in the 1985 episode 'Who's Looking After The Cafe Then?'. He reappeared in the 1985 feature-length Christmas special 'Uncle Of The Bride', in which he was established as Edie's husband, at which point both became regulars from this special thereafter.
Mechanic Wesley was often called upon by the main trio to construct the many bizarre creations they came up with, and to drive them into the hills for test runs. One reoccurring theme is the occasional explosion caused by projects in Wesley's shed and accompanied by billows of white smoke. On some occasions, Wesley's hat is also smouldering and smoking. In his early years in the series, Wesley seemed to have a love of loud rock music, which led to the trio desperately trying to call over it to get his attention on a number of occasions.
When Gordon Wharmby died in 2002, the character is said to have also died, although he was not formally written out; subsequent references to him were in the past tense.
(1986, 1987, 1988–2003), a highly opinionated older woman, sister of Seymour Utterthwaite (who called her Edith) and Wesley's wife, she was the house-proud hostess of the women's coffee mornings. She was introduced, along with Seymour, daughter Glenda and son-in-law Barry in the 1986 New Years Day special episode "Uncle of the Bride" (husband Wesley had been introduced in 1982, 4 years before).
The ladies' tea parties, where they would sit and discuss life (particularly the shortcomings of men), became a popular staple of the show from the 1990s onwards; they were usually held in Edie's front room. Wesley restored a convertible car for her to drive, although she was a terrible driver, and was always accusing Wesley of moving things (particularly the gear lever) around. Another running gag was Edie making a big performance of locking the front door, repeatedly pushing it to check that it was locked properly.
In later years Hird, who was still in the series at the age of 90, suffered poor health, which affected her ability to stand. To cover this, she was often seen sitting down, or, when standing, had something to hold on to (often out of camera shot). For driving and distance shots, her double, Amy Shaw, was used.
When Thora Hird died in 2003, Edie was also said to have died. As with her husband Wesley previously, it was not immediately made obvious, but later references to the character indicated that she had died. In the final three series, a framed photo of Edie can be seen on Barry and Glenda's mantelpiece.
In one episode Barry talks about ghosts and Glenda asks if he had seen her mother. Barry's response in the negative includes immense gladness, in that she scared him enough alive.
For the first few series in which she appeared, Edie was extremely concerned with her reputation in the neighbourhood: whenever there was company, Edie would try to put on a posh, educated voice—which would suddenly vanish when she was shouting for (or at) Wesley. This aspect of Edie's character was a prototype for Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances (also written by Roy Clarke). Once the latter series was created, this aspect of Edie's personality was toned down a bit (although not completely) in order to differentiate the two characters.
(Sarah Thomas: 1986, 1987, 1988–1990, 1991-2010) daughter of Edie and Wesley. The other women in the group consider that she is somewhat naive, despite her being middle-aged. When her mother was alive, if she attempted to join in a mature conversation, Edie would snap "Drink your coffee!" She speaks glowingly of her husband Barry, but is often insecure and unsatisfied with him at home, often because of the pressure of her mother and other ladies in the group. She often comes to the defence of men when other women in the group speak the worst about them and does not believe that all men are evil, as they do. She appears, like her husband, to have a very meek demeanour, but under duress she has proven to be quite a force to be reckoned with. In the very last episode of the programme, Glenda clearly seems to have joined the bossy Yorkshire women's brigade in her suggestions to Barry and Morton that are, in Barry's words "not optional". Although the rest of the ladies (particularly Pearl) disliked the flirtatious Marina, Glenda was seen to strike up friendship with her on a number of occasions (although this role was generally taken by Miss Davenport in the later series).
(1986–1990, 1996–2010) meek and mild husband of Glenda. Dull and ineffectual, accountant Barry strives for adventure but seems destined for paperwork and domesticity. His one pride is his shiny new car, which he was always trying to keep away from father-in-law Wesley, who could not resist tinkering under the bonnet (although in one episode, he did completely dismantle the engine).
Barry is often trying out new hobbies in an attempt to stop his life being humdrum; and in more recent years, has made a number of attempts to fit in at a local golf club, often upsetting the golf captain "the Major". After being introduced in the feature-length "Uncle of the Bride" in 1986, which centres around Barry and Glenda's wedding, Barry was much-mentioned but not seen for around six years when Mike Grady originally left to pursue several other television projects, before returning as a regular from 1996 thereafter. He is one of the few characters to have left the series but returned in later series.
(2000, 2001–2005) Edie's and Seymour's sister, who has always been more romantically adventurous, to Edie's unending shame. She often speaks of past flings, frequently with married men. She was often paired with Pearl Sibshaw. Ros was last seen at the end of the 26th series following the departure of Dora Bryan owing to ill health. Her role of being paired with Pearl was replaced by June Whitfield's character Nelly.
Before Ros actually appeared in the series, she had never been mentioned and it was not known that Edie and Seymour ever had a sister.
(1985, 1986–2010) Howard is the shy, beady-eyed, constantly conniving, simpering, henpecked husband of Pearl. Doubtless owing to his wife's domineering nature, Howard often tries to escape from her. Most episodes involve Howard dating peroxide blonde, Marina, behind his wife's back. In most episodes, Marina would simper, "Oh Howard.", followed by Howard's "Oh Marina."- sometimes the order was reversed, He is a creative but unconvincing liar. He and Pearl live next door to Clegg, and, much to the annoyance of the latter, Howard is always pestering him for aid in his various schemes to escape Pearl and be with Marina. Over the years he has come up with countless disguises, cover stories and hideaways to allow him to see Marina, all of which have ultimately been doomed or exposed by Pearl. In their earlier appearances, they were frequently shown in disguise with Howard saying, "I think we've really cracked it this time". However, he tends to ignore Marina when he's out with her, partly out of fear of his wife Pearl, and partly because he gets so deeply caught up in fabricating charades to cover up his affair. However, their relationship doesn't appear to have gone beyond hand-holding and gazing into each other's eyes (much to the annoyance of Marina), and the occasional kiss in a field, haystack, or mobile hut somewhere. Howard is often too busy worrying about Pearl to pay Marina any kind of romantic attention, and it is hinted that even if the opportunity ever did arise, Howard would be too cowardly to go through with it anyway. Perhaps for this reason, it has also been suggested that Howard loves Pearl underneath it all. Howard first appeared in the Bournemouth summer season show of the series, and was popular enough and felt to have enough potential that he was soon made a regular character. At first, he, Pearl and Marina were used semi-regularly, but as time passed and their popularity grew, they appeared in every episode. Howard and Pearl's surname was given as Sibshaw in Roy Clarke's novel 'The Moonbather' in 1987, but only mentioned once in the entire TV series, in one of the last episodes, when Glenda refers to Howard as Mr. Sibshaw.
(1985, 1986–2010) Howard's wife, a bit of a shrew and always one step ahead of his crafty schemes, she is often shown to know about his (attempted) affair with Marina, but is almost gleefully obsessed with exposing Howard's philandering and generally tormenting him. Although she has a fearsome reputation, she, like Nora, occasionally surprises Norman Clegg and others (not including Howard) with displays of kindness, especially after Compo died.
When she was first introduced on the show, Pearl was somewhat naive, especially towards Howard's affair with Marina. When introduced to the ladies' tea group, Nora, Ivy, and Edie integrated her into the group and, over time, her demeanour has hardened.
(1985, 1986–2010) Busty but over-age, Howard's love interest Marina works in a local supermarket. Despite her carefree appearance and large chest, Marina is a long-suffering type, having to deal with the disapproval of the prominent village women, the indirect wrath of Pearl, and timorous and neglectful romancing by Howard. She is often thought of as a "tart", and not without reason. She seems to have a soft spot for Clegg (often referring to him as "Norman Clegg that was" implying that they have a past), and occasionally briefly leaves Howard for other men. In the episode "A Double For Howard", she is also content for Eli to kiss her when he impersonates Howard. Marina works as a check-out girl at the local Co-op (although in more recent series, the store's name has been seen as Lodges); Howard often sneaks there to pass or receive notes from her (or more often sends Norman Clegg in his place; leading on several occasions for Marina to believe mistakenly that Clegg is interested in her romantically). In A Sidecar Named Desire Clegg reveals that he was once trapped in a lift with Marina and she cuddled him for warmth, much to Howard's ire and jealousy. Though she perceived it to be a romantic incident, it left Clegg terrified of her. Clegg always strongly denies any romantic interest in her. Marina first appeared in the spin-off 1984 Eastbourne summer season show, and soon became a regular character.
(1988, 1989, 1992–2010) Howard's aunt. A sly and grasping bric-a-brac shop owner. Whilst she and her nephew both have a general predisposition towards sneakiness, Auntie Wainwright is much more adept at applying it.
Clegg is reluctant to go into her shop, since she always sells him something he doesn't want, but she usually finds ways to trick him into entering. She is extremely mean, and pretends to be cheated when she gives the slightest discount. At Compo's funeral, she grabbed Eli by the arm and pretended to be blind in order to avoid giving money to a collection outside the church.
As with several other characters, she was originally seen in a "one-off" appearance in the 1988 Christmas Special Crums, however she became so popular that she was brought back for a second appearance at Christmas 1989, eventually becoming a regular from 1992 thereafter.
Note: Auntie Wainwright is no relation to Mr Wainwright from the library. (See Below)
(Stephen Lewis: 1988, 1990, 1991–2007) eternally miserable and none-too-bright comic foil, similar to Lewis' character Inspector Cyril "Blakey" Blake in LWT's hit comedy On The Buses (some episodes of which he co-wrote) from 1969 to 1973. Smiler was first seen as a one-off character in 1988's 'That Certain Smile', in which the trio had to sneak a hospitalised Smiler's beloved dog Bess in to see him. The character was popular enough to be brought back on a semi-regular basis, and was a regular throughout the 1990s and most of the 2000s (although his dog died between his first and second appearances). In some early appearances, he was a lollipop man, but for much of his time on the show worked for Auntie Wainwright, with whom he seems to be suffering some sort of indentured servitude. In early appearances, Smiler was also a lodger with Nora Batty, which enraged the jealous Compo. Smiler also owned a big, but rather beaten up and poorly maintained, white convertible 1972 Chevrolet Impala, in which he sometimes drove around with Tom, and which on occasion has been used in various promotions for Auntie Wainwright. Smiler was last seen in the series 28 episode "Sinclair and the Wormley Witches". Lewis left the show at the end of series 28 because of ill health. He was last mentioned in the series 29 episode "Of Passion and Pizza" by Tom's saying that Smiler had disappeared.
(Blake Butler, 1973, 1976) The rather timid head of the local library, which the trio visited a lot in the show's early days - Compo nicknamed him 'Old Shagnasty'. Mr Wainwright left at the same time as Mrs Partridge's departure (see below), but was "transferred back" to the area in the third series, featuring in two episodes where he was once again romancing his new assistant, Miss Moody. It is shown in Series 1 he, unlike Miss Probert, approves of the books with four-letter words. (Note: Mr Wainwright is not related to Auntie Wainwright.)
(Rosemary Martin: 1973), a librarian at the same library, and who was engaged in an affair with Mr Wainwright which they mistakenly believed was secret. The characters were never really felt to catch on, and disappeared as the library was written out as a favourite haunt of the main trio. However, a few years later, the storyline was resurrected and occasionally used for Howard and Marina. The library was also brought back for Foggy to get thrown out of all the time. She has a twelve-year-old son, revealed in Series 1.
(June Watson, 1975) One of the librarians who briefly replaced Wainwright and Partridge during the second series. Miss Probert is a radical feminist for Homlfirth, who is always railing against men to the more timid Miss Jones. Miss Probert has two missions in life; one is discouraging the lending out of books she considers "filthy"; the other is making a proper man-hater out of Miss Jones, in whom she seems to take a more than professional interest. Her disappearance from the series is unexplained, and it is presumed she went back to wherever she worked before.
(Janet Davies:, 1975) The other librarian who replaced Mr. Wainwright and Mrs. Partridge in the second series. Miss Jones is a quiet, timid female who is overshadowed by Miss Probert. She previously worked in a children's library, which she frequently says she wants to return to. She has a pair of pink fly-away glasses that are on a chain around her neck. She doesn't like working at the Holmfirth library, because of the four-letter words. She always does what Miss Probert asks her, always without question or protest. Like Miss Probert, her disappearance is unexplained, and it is believed she returned to the children's library. This is most likely due to the remark she made to Miss Probert about wanting to go back where "Puss in Boots means just that and not like that awful magazine".
(Kate Brown, 1976) The librarian who replaced Mrs. Partridge on Mr. Wainwright's return. She only appeared in two episodes, and it is shown she shares Mr. Wainwrights dreams about revolution. She is the first woman to suffer the sight of Compo's matchbox. Although middle-aged, she is attractive and she and Mr. Wainwright are believed to be the original structure for Howard and Marina.
(Josephine Tewson, 2003–2010) After many years of the library setting seldom being used, Miss Davenport was introduced as the new librarian in 2003. A very emotional woman haunted by a string of past rejections, she first appeared as a guest, driving Gavin Hinchcliff around while he skied on the van roof. Originally, Glenda took up the cause of socializing her and tried to fit her in with the coffee-drinker circle of Nora, Ivy, Pearl, and co. They did not take too well to each other; in more recent episodes, she's bonded with Marina instead, with the pair of them both longing for love in their individual ways. In the episode: "In Which Howard Remembers Where He Left His Bicycle Pump", it is revealed that Miss Davenport's first name is "Lucinda".
(1987–2002) An extremely long-sighted bumbler, Eli maintained a highly cheerful, friendly attitude despite not having a clue what was going on around him. He generally made only brief cameo appearances, walking into a scene and commenting on his long-sighted misinterpretation of the action, and then walking off again. He was occasionally seen on a bicycle.
On occasion, his long-sightedness caused him to walk into slapstick (and carefully choreographed) mishaps such as walking into the back of a lorry and over the tops of cars, or falling into a skip. For much of his time in the series, Eli also had a Jack Russell dog (which once went missing, leading Eli to mistake a sheep for the dog). Despite his long-sightedness, Eli is eternally cheerful and optimistic, and glad to see anyone who stops to talk to him. In one episode, a passing comment by Compo seemed to suggest that Eli was a sniper during the Second World War.
In the 1995 New Year Special episode featuring Sir Norman Wisdom, 'The Man Who Nearly Knew Pavarotti', Eli is the conductor of the Holme Silver Band. Originally brought in as a friend of Wally Batty, the character was so popular that Eli remained on the show after the death of actor Joe Gladwin. Eli and Wally appeared together in the series 9 episode, "Jaws", in 1987.
Eli never appeared again following the death of O'Dea, though the character was not explicitly killed off. He was replaced by two drunks (who were also in earlier episodes of the series, sometimes credited as Villagers), but appeared in only a few episodes.
In the 1988 episode "The Pig Man Cometh" of All Creatures Great and Small O'Dea played the character Rupe who, like Eli, had defective vision, clearly alluding to his role in Last of the Summer Wine.
(2005, 2006–2010) A more recent addition to the ladies' coffee-drinking set, and Pearl's comrade-in-arms. Nelly's never-seen husband Travis needs constant attention, which Nelly generally administers over her mobile phone. Nelly occasionally provides more "sophisticated" viewpoints as a result of having lived further south for some time, but even she regards them with some befuddlement. June Whitfield previously made a "one off" appearance in the series as a different character, Delphi Potts, in the 2001 Christmas Special, 'Potts in Pole Position', married to Lother, the character of Warren Mitchell, a couple of years before she became a regular as Nelly. In Series 30, she became the object of Hobbo's obsession when he became convinced that she was his long-lost mother. She was one of the only two regular characters (the other being Ivy) not to appear in the final episode.
(2001, 2002, 2003, 2004–2005, 2007, 2008–2010) He first appeared as Herman Teasdale, "the Repo man", who is always pursuing Tom Simmonite, claiming that he owes money. (May be related to character Jack Harry Teasdale, who appeared in one episode.)
He is determined but gullible, and Tom always evades him. From 2005 on, he has not only been mentioned by name, but also calls on Barry for social visits, with Barry not being too thrilled at this newfound friendship. In certain episodes in 2005, it is clear that he still repossesses belongings, which Glenda suggests is the reason none of his friendships lasted: he kept repossessing his friends' goods.
The character returned in a 2007 episode of the show; and again in the 2008 New Year special, saying that he has retired from debt collecting and changed his name to Morton Beemish in order to start a new life for himself. He seeks out the friendship of his former nemesis, Tom.
In the final two seasons 30-31 the character practically lives next door to Barry and Glenda as a near-lodger with Toby Mulberry, (aka The Captain).
(1992, 2001, 2002–03, 2004, 2005–06, 2008–2010) The Captain of the local golf club where Barry is often trying to fit in as a member; but, despite his best efforts to impress him, Barry always manages to annoy or offend the Captain, either by becoming involved with some escapade with the main trio, or by some other social faux pas.
Trevor Bannister is best known for playing Mr Lucas in another comedy favourite, Are You Being Served?, with Frank Thornton from 1972 to 1979, and also starred with Brian Wilde in the short-lived Wyatt's Watchdogs in 1988.
He had previously played a tailor in the 1992 episode 'Who's Got Rhythm?'. The Captain returned for the 2008 New Years Special I Was A Hitman For Primrose Dairies, where he received a name, Toby, for the first time. In series 30 he moves in next door to Barry and Glenda and shortly after gains Morton Beemish (aka Herman Teesdale), the former repo man, as a near-lodger, since he's always there doing tasks around the house.
(1995, 1996, 2001, 2002 and 2004) Like a number of other characters, Norman Wisdom was originally intended to make one guest appearance in the show, and ended up as a recurring character. He originally played the hapless Billy Ingleton in the 1995 New Year special 'The Man Who Nearly Knew Pavarotti'. He proved so popular that like Auntie Wainwright before him, he was asked to appear in the following year's special ('Extra! Extra!'). From then on, much-loved comedian Norman Wisdom occasionally pops up, sometimes for the storyline of an episode, at other times in smaller appearances. He is not always credited for smaller appearances.
Local policemen often witness the bizarre goings on, usually related to the main trio, and watch in bemusement. They are generally seen parked up around the moors and trying not to get involved with anything, instead eating (they have even been seen to have a roadside barbecue on occasion) or drinking tea.
(1983, 1988–2010) Kitson first appeared in the 1983 Christmas special 'Getting Sam Home' and made 2 further guest appearances before becoming a semi-regular character from series 12 onwards. In series 29 he was finally given the name PC Cooper. Cooper tends to be the bigger-headed of the two, but he has many ingenious ways of dealing with petty crimes with minimal disruption to his relaxation.
(1988, 1989, 2004–2010) Emerick first appeared alongside Kitson in 'Downhill Racer'. He made one more appearance in the next series, in the episode 'Three Men and a Mangle', and later reappeared in 2004 to partner Kitson after Tony Capstick's death. In series 29 he was finally given the name PC Walsh. Walsh is more level-headed than Cooper and enjoys "taking the mickey", but he tends to be a little more naïve.
(1987, 1990–2004) Capstick made his first appearance in the 1987 special 'Big Day at Dream Acres', before becoming a semi-regular alongside Kitson from series 12 in 1990, up to his death in late 2003. His last appearance was the episode 'Yours Truly - If You're Not Careful'. Capstick's character was spacey and less intelligent even than the often-oblivious Cooper.
Conductor of the Holme Silver Band. Big Day at Dream Acres Christmas Special 1987. Andrew Platts spent the early part of his entertainment life playing in bands and he was a member of the 1970s hot soul band Jimmy James and the Vagabonds. Some years later he was the resident conductor of the Holme Silver Band and as a consequence appeared in the 1987 Christmas Special.