Stream On: Existential Britcoms Last of the Summer Wine and Waiting for God

By on December 17, 2020

Foggy Dewhurst, Compo Simmonite and Norman Clegg explore the world around them, experiencing a second childhood with no wives, jobs, or responsibilities in Last of the Summer Wine. (IMDb.com)

Nostalgia transcends space and time. For instance, I’m nostalgic for Yorkshire in northern England, not because I remember it, but because I recall the possibilities of my youth when first I discovered Last of the Summer Wine. Mad Men’s Don Draper describes it poetically in the episode “The Wheel”: “‘Nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. It goes backwards, forwards, takes us to a place where we ache to go again.”


(Amazon.com; Britbox; here and there) 1973-2010

This is the world’s longest-running series, running “over” or “nearly” 30 seasons [according to its BBC website]. More remarkable is that every episode was written by Roy Clarke, despite having more than a dozen other notable shows on his résumé. (And at age 90, he’s still at work.) I suspect he wrote Last of the Summer Wine in his sleep.

Three pensioners, one newly widowed, wander around their home town. They have no obligations and have reverted to the trio they were in high school. They have had different lives; the show’s website describes them as “the upper, middle and lower classes writ large: Former Royal Signals Sergeant and notional gang leader Cyril Blamire; flat cap-wearing voice-of-reason Norman ‘Cleggy’ Clegg and scruffy hormone-riddled layabout Compo Simonite,” and they’re together again.

They roll tires down hills, poke around trash fills, lay in the grass, do washing in public launderettes, eat in restaurants or pubs, hang about the public library—and talk. Occasionally other characters in the town have comic scenes, not necessarily in connection to our trio. Credit where due to Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, but Last of the Summer Wine is the original “show about nothing.”

“Perhaps we’re dead, and this is the place we’ve come to.”


“Or maybe the other place!”

“No, it wouldn’t be the other place…”

“Why not?”

“In Yorkshire? I think it’d be further south.”

[Here’s a trailer for this oddly addictive show from IMDb.com.]

While Waiting for God, Tom is mostly cool with everything—but Diana is a red-hot poker who won’t be quenched. (IMDb.com)


(Amazon.com; BritBox; also here and there) 1990-1994

I was certain I had seen Samuel Beckett by the Central Park Boathouse, my favorite hangout, in the 1980’s. Subsequent internet research tells me he was indeed [in New York in 1984]. He’s probably best-known for his existentialist play Waiting for Godot, in which two characters bide their time. I’m fairly sure the writers of both Last of the Summer Wine and Waiting for God were fans.

Waiting for God’s original website [archived here] says “It’s nothing like Beckett and a lot like [The Prisoner].

“Retired photojournalist Diana Trent finds herself in Bayview Retirement Home and is pretty damn angry about it—as she is about virtually everything.

“Suffering fools not at all and with a nifty line in putdowns, she despises anyone who believes her useless because she’s old. “Chiefly among those are shiftless Harvey Bains, manager of the care home to whom his ageing charges are merely things he wishes would just die and save on the bills, and his intellectually challenged sidekick Jane who insists on trying to touch him.

“The only person she does have time for—and that grudgingly so—is Tom, a nice but somewhat otherworldly older gentleman placed in the home by his alcoholic daughter-in-law and drippy son. Diana regards Bayview very much as a place to undermine, and proceeds to do so, with Tom cheerily helping her along the way.” With more character and situation development than Last of the Summer Wine, Waiting for God is by turns tranquil (Tom), hilarious (Harvey and Jane), and with Diana, incredibly cynical for a “gentle” sitcom.

[Here’s a clip from IMDb.com: “Stuck in a Situation Comedy.”]

Next time, a Christmas story about Jean Shepherd.

(Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon’s prices.)

Click here for more Stream On: What to watch on TV columns by Pete Hummers.


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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