One of my favourite T.V. series is Last of the Summer Wine (LOTSW), which ran for a record 37 years between 1973 and 2010. It is set in the picturesque streets and surroundings of the Yorkshire village of Holmfirth. At it’s peak, LOTSW received huge viewing figures.
My favourite era of LOTSW is the series from the decade between 1985 and 1995. I think what I and most people love about the series is it’s simplistic appeal. The dialogue follows a set format and style. The jokes and settings are often repeated, but are familiar and fondly regarded.
Life appears so simple in LOTSW. Because it is a TV show, no ongoing themes are carried over into episodes, so each show is a stand-alone experience. This removes any ongoing issues of concern for the characters and thus keeps the simplicity intact. As viewers we step in and out of their lives with the characters not burdened by the stresses of daily life. So as not to appear immediately dated, characters do not discuss the news of the day, politics, or complicated personal ambitions. They exist in the space of their interactions, not burdened with concerns of health, finances, relationships or anything else.
Of course I know real life is always different. In LOTSW we never see rain, we never see how far they have walked to reach the summit of these huge hills and they show little, if any, physical tiredness. We never see them in their downtime, alone, filling in the lonely evening hours. We never see them watching television. There is a suspension of disbelief. It’s entertainment, and like all things in life we take what we want from it.
However, I remain attracted to the simplicity of their lives. When I manage to visit Holmfirth in the New Year, which will then be over 10 years since the show was last recorded there, I look forward to feeling a connection to the simple life I have tried to design, as well as the joy of visiting a genuinely beautiful rural setting.