Say what you will about Last of the Summer Wine (and who doesn’t?), writer Roy Clarke had a brilliant ear and eye for a character’s name to fit the character's detail. These are our favourites, and there’s not even room for ‘Electrical’ Entwistle…
Simmonite – it might be a down-market range of luggage or a toxic mineral from a galaxy far, far away that would do for Superman with one whiff. That he was blessed with Chip as a first name, suggests his dad had a taste for the bad American beach B-movies of the late 1950s, with their Brads and Troys. In truth, it’s more redolent of road gravel and fried potato.
It could be a pint of small brewery-made stout; dark, Satanic as a mill and as slow to settle as the Settle-Carlisle railway, it's as sweet to the taste as it is damaging to the head. Or maybe it's a steam-powered engine of Victorian heritage, now a minor exhibit in the Harrogate Cog Museum. Even a latter-day Luddites would scoff at it.
Bathed in mist and drizzle, Utterthwaite conjures up a slate-roofed hamlet lying at the foot of the Pennines, a forgotten stop along the Pennine Way with only a Thirties ordnance survey map reference to guide you there. As inaccessible as Brigadoon, your family might live there for five generations and still be regarded as newcomers.
The pub has two beer pumps, one of them run out, and sells crisps – plain. Add your own salt, which is sold separately.
A woman too mean to run to a first name, or possibly preferring to fox the Inland Revenue. If she does have a first name, we’ll never know it. She’s too tight to buy a birth certificate.
Showbiz pizzazz and homely nutrician combine for a warming blend indeed. The first name of glam rock’s King of the Coo-ca-choo might suggest a glitter-laden, star-spangled lifestyle with all the temptations of the flesh, and more, associated with it. So best dampen expectations with a surname recalling a familiar brand of tinned processed peas.
As the ad went, ‘Sorry, mate, you’re too late, the best peas went to Farrows.’ But ‘Alvin Farrow’? Far too Hollywood for Holmfirth folk.
Last of the Summer Wine: The Complete Collection is available on DVD.