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Having followed Last of the Summer Wine since it was first broadcast on the BBC in the 1970s, I found this book to be a totally absorbing read.

The book is also a testament to the genius of Roy Clarke, without whom there would have been no series. The book explains how he succeeded in evolving the series, over thirty-seven years, as seamlessly as possible, to incorporate new characters or integrate changes in casting, which were necessary when life events caused essential characters to need to be replaced.

Extracts from Roy Clarke's scripts also pepper the book, in order to illustrate the idiosyncrasies of the characters and also to throw more light on the nature of Roy Clarke's wit. They are intelligently selected by Andrew Vine and serve to provoke many laugh-out-loud moments.

The background information about how characters were initiated and evolved and the casting decisions that were made make fascinating reading, not just for advocates of the series, but also for anyone interested in the behind-the scenes decision-making that is an essential ingredient of the success of a series such as this.

There is also considerable detail about location filming; specific information about where various scenes were shot and some of the problems that needed to be dealt with by the production crews.

The book also covers high-level decisions that were made at different points in the evolution of the series by the production team.

A truly fascinating and absorbing read, which I would most heartily recommend!
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on 25 November 2010
I recently visited Holmfirth while on a visit to the UK from Australia. I wish I had read this fine book before arriving there. I spent a fair amount of time looking for locations within walking distance of Sid's Cafe, many of which turned out to be several miles away.
The book is compulsory reading for Summer Wine fans. A detailed history with fascinating insights into the personalities involved in making this wonderful TV series.
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on 27 September 2010
This is a great read. Easy to pick up but not easy to put down as it gives such an interesting insight into the making of, this wonderful series, the characters, and the wonderful cast who put the humour over so naturally and so memorably. A great keepsake of a much loved series. Well worth the read if you love the series or not. The Last of the Summer Wine will not be forgotten due to this wonderful book.
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on 3 October 2010
As a viewer of Last of The Summer Wine since it started, I found this volume an absolute mine of information, and details I wasn't aware of. A very enjoyable read, and long may it help to keep such an innocent, enjoyable programme in the public mind.Highly recommended.
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on 19 September 2010
I've been hooked on this comedy since first viewing it in the 80's. A collection of Peter Pan's alive and well, upto alsorts of mischief in the Yorkshire Dales. Thwarted at every turn, by those timeless "battleaxes" Nora & Co.The casting, scenery and storylines will never be bettered. British comedy at it's supreme best.

The book get's behind the characters the actors and actresses. The personalities each with their own quirks, these were the launching pads for the unforgettable characters paraded before us in each episode.

The book a lasting testament to everybody involved. With all their differences, these actors/actresses gave us the absolute crown jewels of British comedy.
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on 28 December 2010
I have loved Last of the Summer Wine since the beginning,my golden years were Foggy,Cleggy and Compo,but I enjoyed it all !The book was a Christmas Gift and I could not put it down.I liked the way the story was told, no pretence that every one got on well and there was no friction.Holmfirth is beautiful and we have visited many times but like a previous reviewer I did not realise the area covered !I am waiting for the last Compo stories to be out on DVD,The whole series is like stories from a bygone age that is well worth reliving.If you enjoy the program the book is a must.I wonder how many readers ,like me ,shed a tear when Bill Owen/Compo died!
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on 30 December 2010
The book is like the series - warm and funny. It is full of fascinating items regarding the actors and the series and how they came to be in the series. If you are a Last of the Summer Wine fan we strongly urge you to read it.
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on 16 September 2010
As both my husband and I have been fans of this programme since the first day it was broadcast, I just had to buy this book. It is full of interesting information about the many series that have been made. There is a great selection of photographs of all the characters too, and also bits about things which have happened during filming. This is almost as funny as the programmes, and I would highly recommend it to other fans of LOTSW. It would also make a great Christmas present for someone you know who is a fan, they will be delighted with the book and very grateful to receive it.
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on 6 September 2011
My wife and I both very much enjoyed reading this book, as it provided us with so much background information about the Last of the Summer Wine. The actors, the locations and of course the politics within the BBC and between the actors were all well-explained. A must read for all Last of the Summer Wine lovers. It will be part of our essential kit when we travel to the UK. Even though the BBC has canned the series, it will still be a nostalgia-trip for us. Thanks to all the earlier commentators, whose reviews helped me make the decision to purchase it for my wife's birthday.
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on 4 June 2014
As a Summer Wine early-adopter I have fond memories of the series and this show-biography is an uncanny mirror of its history. Like Last of the Summer Wine itself, Andrew Vine's book has its best moments early on, the writing is uneven and ultimately it outstays its welcome.

I couldn't find an author biography in the kindle edition, and Andrew Vine's relationship with the series isn't entirely made clear in the book. Multiple credits for "photo from author's collection" suggest he was on set more than once. He's obviously a long-standing and, sadly, pretty undiscriminating fan.

The book never lets you forget that Last of the Summer Wine ran for 37 years, longer than any other TV comedy. Even as a champion for the series I'm a Summer Wine snob. I reserve my strongest affection for Michael Bates's two series, and otherwise fall broadly into "team Foggy". In fact the real dividing line for my own golden era was the sad departure of John Comer as Sid.

I've always felt Summer Wine could have honourably shut up shop after what I think was 8 seasons, and retired to eventually receive an honest rediscovery as a genuine classic. Instead, we were gifted with another 17 years. For me, therefore, the last two thirds of Andrew Vine's book are an enthusiastic attempt to glorify the show's long descent from charming comedy jewel into a pale shadow that danced at the whim of the lowest common denominator, and how it ultimately became the series that TV comedy's new boys could use as short-hand for all the old guard's worst sins and never really be challenged.

There are problems with the writing. There are a lot of long, run-on sentences which are difficult to follow. The flow of the Summer Wine story consistently runs aground on excessively detailed info-dump biographies of most of the actors, especially those who were English showbiz legends. Even in a book that by its nature celebrates its subject there is a relentless and excessive insistence that against all odds and evidence that the series was a work of genius and the quality never flagged.

The earliest series are knitted into the fabric of my childhood, so I wallowed in in the first couple of sections as I revisited the early years. I was honestly shocked at the reminder of what a ratings juggernaut it was at its peak. I learned for the first time about the difficult off-screen relationships between the first two sets of lead characters, and the on-going struggle with Bill Owen's ego.

I skimmed more and more after the first departure of Brian Wilde. The book becomes more and more desperate to blur the gap between rising ratings and falling quality. There are some interesting insights towards the end, like the revolving door through which key cast members left, driven away by low pay and less respect, and were welcomed back when the outside world proved less rewarding than expected. "Summer Wine Land" was clearly a cosier place than the real world in front of the camera as well as in the living room.

In the book's defense, for the one-day-only book deal price of 99p I had great value. I've always argued that the dialogue-focused early series were more subtle and subversive than they are ever given credit for, and between the lines of this book you can see how 20 years before Seinfeld the original Last of the Summer Wine team created a great comedy where "nothing happened". I also challenge anyone with any affection for the series at all not to crumple quietly as the story reaches Bill Owen's departure.
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