Last of the Summer Wine is the longest-running comedy programme in the world. It premiered 27 years ago, in 1973, and, after 30 series it is still going strong, with a 31st series due for transmission this year -- even though all its original protagonists -- Compo, Clegg, Foggy, even Nora Batty -- are now dead.Now, Andrew Vine, the deputy editor of the Yorkshire's Post, has written the definitive history of this television phenomenon with dozens of new interviews with cast and crew members including the series inventor and scriptwriter, Roy Clarke. It covers the show's inauspicious beginnings, with low ratings, its endless reinvention as participants like Bill Owen, Michael Bates, Brian Wilde and Kathy Staff retired or died, the appearance of a string of guest stars from John Cleese and Norman Wisdom to Thora Hird and Russ Abbott and the ingenious plot contrivances as the protagonists became too old and frail to attempt any of the slapstick stunts with runaway prams.Andrew Vine is deputy editor of the Yorkshire Post. He lives in Leeds.

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