Overseas readers may not be aware that their UK cousins are currently in a state of shock and distress. The BBC has announced that Last Of The Summer Wine, the world’s longest-running sitcom, is finally coming to an end after 31 series. But how will it conclude?
It’s possible writer Roy Clarke may not be sure how to finish the series, having written every episode for thirty-seven years, so here are a few suggestions as to where he could get his inspiration from in the world of sci-fi.
Roy, if you want to use any of these, be my guest…
Life On Mars US
Having successfully gotten through yet another day of comedy high jinks, Hobbo (Russ Abbot), and the gang return to the pub for one last heart-to-heart. As they talk, viewers notice the screen starting to glitch. Hobbo wakes up in a bathtub aboard a spaceship. It is revealed that the regular cast are actually interstellar wine merchants, and have been on a long-distance journey to the decimated planet Summer, in the hopes that they might ‘secure the last of the Summer wine’.
As they look out on the planet below, Clegg (revealed to actually be Hobbo’s father) remarks, “It looks very Foggy out there. I truly hope we receive extra Compo for this one.” Geddit? No, nor do the audience.
Ashes To Ashes
Hobbo, having been plagued by visions he doesn’t understand, visits a farm in Yorkshire, where he digs up a Plasticine model of Wallace from Wallace And Gromit. Realising what this means, he confronts Clegg, who is revealed to be a figure who helps old light entertainment stars pass into proper retirement. And it’s time for Abbot, Burt Kwouk and Brian Murphy to move along off our screens.
The three say goodbye (Hobbo and Clegg share a cheeky kiss) before rolling down the hill in a bathtub one final time, and being enveloped by the sweet light of a BBC pension.
But it’s never the end for Clegg. We hear a “Hello-o!” from behind him, and the camera pans round to reveal… the Chuckle Brothers. A word in your shell-like, pals: No. Slacking. End on a rendition of Ernie, the Fastest Milk Cart In The West.
Clegg pulls the plug out of the bathtub, has a scuffle with Truly, then puts the plug back in again. Exhausted by this complex and momentous chain of events, he goes to have a lie down in a nearby field, where he is joined by June Whitfield. As the credits roll, viewers are left wondering why they invested the last thiry-seven years of their life for such a hasty and confusing payoff.
Having spent many years in search of their leader Roy Clarke, Clegg, Hobbo and the gang finally track him down to a small village near Doncaster, but as they approach it, their bathtub is attacked by the locals, and they are forced to evacuate. Making the rest of the journey by foot, they discover that Clarke is masquerading as a sitcom writer, and wishes to bring an old friend, Patricia Routledge, into the gang.
However, Clegg has had a tip-off from Nicholas Lyndhurst that Clarke is actually working for the Federation of Cancelled Sitcoms (there are many incarnations of Nicholas Lyndhurst in the Federation of Cancelled Sitcoms), who have been tracking them for some time.
Clegg puts an end to Clarke once and for all, just in time for the Federation’s queen, Amanda Holden (of Big Top fame), to arrive.
It is revealed that Routledge was working for the Federation all along. The Summer Wine gang fall in a hail of gunfire, and Clegg is the only one left standing. He smiles enigmatically and gives one last, “Oh, Gromit!” as the credits roll in silence…
Planet Of The Apes
The gang ride down a very long hill in their bathtub, before stopping at the bottom. What they see shocks them to their core. The camera pans across to reveal a built-up city. A human city. Yes, it turns out that Clegg and his friends were actually on Earth all along, and not in some strange parallel universe where technology and proper storylines/jokes never existed. You maniacs. Damn you. God damn you all to hell.
If you’re wondering why all the bathtub references, it’s from 28 November 1993, Season 15, Episode 6, Stop That Bath.