Nora Batty's cottage featured in the opening shot of the first ever episode of Last of the Summer Wine, broadcast on a Thursday evening in early January 1973. Entitled 'Of Funerals and Fish', it was in itself just a one-off programme, but it turned out to be the first of a series of 295 episodes made over an incredible 38 years.
Last of the Summer Wine remains the longest-running comedy series in TV history, and one which regularly touched the public's hearts. In the 1980s and 1990s the show regularly attracted 12 million viewers, and Christmas specials drew huge audiences. Sir Terry Wogan was a fan, and it was reportedly the Queen's favourite show.
Summer Wine was whimsical, gentle and old-fashioned, but it was also witty, clever and unusual, not to mention funny. It could also be cheeky and sometimes even rather naughty.
Central to the programme for many years were its principal male characters, Compo, Foggy and Clegg, together with a strong supporting cast led by the indomitable Nora Batty. The three men were ageing adolescents - old men refusing to be old, and proving by their actions that age is no barrier to having fun. They turned the beautiful Holme Valley into a fantastical playground for their madcap schemes and hare-brained adventures.
Clegg was the quiet one - wry, observant, and introspective; Foggy was their over-confident, sometimes pompous leader; and Compo, a scruffy scamp in trademark beanie hat, holed jacket and disgraceful trousers, was the most naughty-schoolboyish of all - forever dreaming up ways to woo Nora, or else terrify her with the unspeakable thing he kept in a matchbox.
Nora Batty may have been fearsome and formidable, hatchet-faced and forever scowling, but she was nonetheless one of the best-loved characters on British television.
Far from glamorous in her rollers and famous wrinkled stockings, and truly terrifying for her stony stare and withering put-downs aimed at men in general and Compo in particular, Nora was nonetheless a kindly soul at heart. She tried to hide it, but underneath her bossy demeanour her softer side was always peeping out!
All photos on this website credited to Summer Wine photographer Malcolm Howarth are on sale as high quality photographic prints made from the original negative. They are available at the Last of the Summer Wine Exhibition, or directly from Malcolm who can be contacted at: email@example.com