Catching up with Last of the Summer Wine actors, part three
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of June 6, 2016
We return this week to reviewing the post-Last of the Summer Wine lives of the series’ surviving cast members.
Tom Owen joined LOTSW in 1999 after the death of his father, Bill Owen, whose portrayal of Compo charmed television audiences for 27 years and continues to do so – at least on MPT’s Afternoon Tea, where you can see it every weekday at 1:30pm.
One of the things the younger Owen does nowadays is give after-dinner speeches where he regales guests with stories about what it was like spending a decade in the world’s longest running television comedy. He also talks about his father and lets guests on in some "secrets". One such "secret" is that Bill wrote hit records for popular singers such as Cliff Richard, Matt Monro and Sasha Distel. Bill even penned a number one hit record for one of Britain’s favorite comedians, Ken Dodd! As part of the evening’s entertainment, if requested to do so, 66-year-old Owen will even sing a song or two of his fathers.
The dinner speeches evolved out of a one-man show Owen created called "Last of the Summer Wine – Treading the Boards". According to Owen, it was initially going to be called “14 by 3’, the date of his father’s birth (March 14, 1914) and his father’s weight (14lbs). The title turned out to be a little too cryptic though and, as Owen says, “no one knew what the show was about’. Through narrative, film, photographs and song, the show tells the story of two careers; Owen’s and his father Bills. Owen has been touring the show for over ten years now.
Owen has also continued to do pantomimes and appeared this past December through January as Baron Hardup in Cinderella, at the Grand Opera House in York. Owen’s wife in the show was played by his good friend singer Anita Harris. The pair also teamed up in 2011 when they toured together in a play called Five Blue Haired Ladies Sitting on a Green Park Bench. Both sound like lots of fun!
After the conclusion of LOTSW though, it was a far more challenging role that Owen took on, when he agreed to perform the one man Samuel Beckett play Krapp’s Last Tape. The play made its debut as part of Scotland’s famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where Owen received rave reviews. In fact, his performance was reportedly “likened to those of John Hurt, Michael Gambon and Harold Pinter”. Such was the play’s success at the Festival that it made the unheard of amount of £900 in profit! Spurred on by the success in Edinburgh, Owen returned to England and set about organizing a tour of the play.
Given that Owen trained as an actor, it’s not surprising that after his decade long stint on television in LOTSW, he would return to the stage. You can read more about Tom Owen in the archived article here.
Jean Alexander, who played Auntie Wainwright in the series, was featured in a fairly recent Tidbit article, which you can read here.
To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117