The much-loved TV sitcom Last of the Summer Wine may have been set in West Yorkshire, but most of its stars were born and bred in Manchester.
No less than seven of the major characters, ranging from the redoubtable Nora Batty to war veteran Walter ‘Foggy’ Dewhurst, were played by local actors and actresses.
The gentle comedy, revolving around a trio of old men and their youthful adventures, was broadcast by the BBC from 1973 to 2010.
For most of the series, the threesome consisted of mild-mannered Norman Clegg, played by Peter Sallis, the anarchic Compo (Bill Owen) and Dewhurst, portrayed by Ashton-under-Lyne actor Brian Wilde.
Dewhurst, a stickler for routine and decorum, proudly wore his war medals through the chaos that often erupted around him – usually instigated by Compo.
The leading female character, Compo’s neighbour and constant object of his affections, was Nora Batty. Her trademark curlers and wrinkled stockings were close to becoming national treasures!
Batty was brilliantly portrayed by Kathy Staff, born in Dukinfield. She started her TV career working as an extra for Granada TV in Manchester in the 1960s.
Stretford actor John Comer played Sid the café owner and Joe Gladwin, born in Ordsall, was Nora Batty’s long-suffering husband Walter.
Manchester actor Gordon Wharmby portrayed tinkering mechanic Wesley Pegden and Coronation Street favourite Jean Alexander was Auntie Wainwright.
Urmston actress Lynda Baron, famous for playing nurse Gladys Emmanuel in Open All Hours, appeared as Sam’s former girlfriend Lilly Bless Her.
And Dora Bryan, who grew up in Oldham, played the racy Ros Utterthwaite – always boasting about her past flings and romances.
Interestingly, Brian Wilde was not an original member of the trio at the heart of Last of the Summer Wine. Featuring alongside Compo and Clegg was Michael Bates, who played another ex-military man, Cyril Blamire.
Bates was in the role for two years before Wilde arrived in 1976. His character Cyril’s final act was to write a precise letter telling his two friends to meet their old classmate, Foggy Dewhurst.
Wilde was already well known for his film and TV work when he joined Last of the Summer Wine. He’d supported Tony Hancock in his ATV series and was the refuse manager ‘Bloody’ Delilah in Granada TV’s Manchester-based sitcom The Dustbinmen.
But his most famous role was playing hapless prison warder Mr Barraclough in the prison comedy Porridge from 1974 to 1977.
He starred alongside comic geniuses Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale as the two convicts bringing Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement’s brilliant scripts to life.
Wilde left Last of the Summer Wine in 1985 to work on other projects. On the programme, it was reported that Foggy had moved to Bridlington to run the family egg-painting business.
Wilde was back in 1990 to reunite the sitcom’s most popular trio, but eventually left seven years later due to illness. He was suffering with pneumonia.
He was invited to return many times, but always refused saying he’d done his stint. The show ran for 13 more years after he left, the final series being filmed a year after his death.
Kathy Staff played Nora Batty from the pilot episode in 1973 until 2008, the year she died from a brain tumour.
She was already well known on TV for playing Doris Luke in the ATV soap Crossroads and had also appeared as Vera Hopkins on Coronation Street.
Staff left Last of the Summer Wine briefly in 1999 after the death of Bill Owen. She said things just weren’t the same after her on-screen admirer and sparring partner of many years had passed away.
Although she came across as a battle-axe, her character Nora had a heart of gold and was secretly quite flattered by Compo’s unwavering attention.
John Comer portrayed plain-spoken café owner Sid from 1973 to 1983 when illness forced him to leave the series. He died from throat cancer in 1984.
Strangely, Sid often played along with the trio’s madcap schemes as it got him out of his tea shop and away from his formidable wife Ivy.
Comer started his acting career in a comedy duo with his brother Tony. They regularly appeared around Manchester in a variety act called Comer’s Cottage.