Last of the Summer Wine Stunt Doubles
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of February 13, 2017
If we were giving out prizes to the unsung heroes of British comedy, they would have to go to the stunt doubles, with honorable mentions most certainly going to the men who were used in some of the outlandish stunts we’ve seen over the years in Last of the Summer Wine.
"Compo" heading for a collision with
One of the stunt doubles who worked on the series, Terry Cade, actually did receive a Hollywood honor, when he was nominated for his work on Last of the Summer Wine back in 2001 in the Best Comedy Stunts category at the World Stunt Awards in Los Angeles. When alerted to the nomination, Cade’s response was to declare himself “gobsmacked”! Cade worked on Last of the Summer Wine from 1993-2001 and throughout his 30 year career also worked with such famous names as Sigourney Weaver, Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, and Sean Penn to name just a few. Cade reportedly thoroughly enjoyed getting paid to throw himself around and get knocked about- although he could probably have done without the time he broke his neck!
Stuart in costume, for the 1978
Another Last of the Summer Wine stunt double was Lancashire born Stuart Fell – an apt last name for someone who got into the stunt business because of his tumbling skills! In the early days of his stunt career, Fell worked a lot for Ronnie Barker who reportedly wrote sketches with Fell in mind. Fell also did a lot of work on Doctor Who, and reports that he was one of the few "actors" who didn’t mind having his face covered in a monster mask! Which is probably why he got a lot of work on that series!
When Fell first got involved with Last of the Summer Wine, the series had been running for a couple of years and given its subject matter – three retirees trying to pass the time in a village in the Yorkshire Dales – it was probably the least likely job to require a stunt double. Then came the infamous runaway skateboard scene – Compo on a skateboard, careering down a hill, a brass band going up the hill, steps, dustbins, all manner of obstacles. It was a stunt arrangers dream! Under Fell’s guidance, the scene worked out so well and was such a hit with viewers that Roy Clark decided to write in more scenes for the "lads" as he called them. The stunts proved to be the "missing ingredient" that was needed to ensure the success of what would become Britain’s longest running comedy series.
Fell worked on Last of the Summer Wine for the next 21 years, until a savvy accountant decided that rather than have Fell travel up to Holmfirth from London, when they might end up paying him to stand around because of the unpredictable weather, it would be more cost effective to hire someone local. Fortunately for the series’ producers, a London stuntman had recently moved to Holmfirth to run a pub, making him the obvious choice.
The LOTSW wine actor Fell most frequently stood in for during his time with the series was Bill Owen, who played our beloved Compo. Be sure to look out for him, weekday afternoons at 1:30pm on Afternoon Tea.
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