Life inmitating art in the West Yorkshire town TV took over

TV FAVOURITES: Bill Owen and Kathy Staff as Compo and Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine.
TV FAVOURITES: Bill Owen and Kathy Staff as Compo and Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine.
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IT WAS in the early Seventies that the DJ Tony Blackburn rolled into Holmfirth to cut the ribbon on its new supermarket.

At that point, a personal appearance by the breakfast host on Radio 1 was about as close to the BBC as anyone in the town could hope to get.

But that was before they went back to film a sitcom about three old men roaming the landscape like geriatric teddy boys.

And yesterday, two Leeds academics said the decision to pick Holmfirth as the location for Last of the Summer Wine locked its image in stone for generations to come – even for people who have never been.

The town’s inextricable links with Compo’s house, Nora Batty’s steps and Sid’s cafe, have permanently changed people’s memories of Holmfirth, said cultural studies lecturers Dr Lynne Hibberd and Dr Zoë Tew-Thompson, from Leeds Beckett University.

After just a few episodes, they said, Compo, Foggy and Clegg, had become ingrained on the local landscape, and viewers started travelling north to see where they had come from.

“Last of the Summer Wine was filmed there for over 37 years. This has meant the town has literally changed to accommodate it,” said Dr Hibberd.

“Because it was around for so long, people have a cultural awareness of it even if they’ve never watched it,” she said.

Even though the show has been off the air for six years, its aura “creates cultural memories which are shared and experienced almost as though they’re real”, added Dr Hibberd.

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