Ian McMillan

Poet Ian McMillan pays tribute to the pastoral sitcom that ends this evening on BBC1. Most of its long-standing characters have moved on to that tin bath in the sky, but Summer Wine has managed to carry on regardless until the axe fell in 2010. The line-up changed but that didn't stop the wry philosophising and gags about battleaxes and weak-willed men in episodes that still attract a respectable four million viewers. Here, McMillan ventures behind the scenes with writer Roy Clarke (scribe of all 295 instalments) and gets to chat with present cast members. There's also archive interview footage of the late Bill Owen and Kathy Staff, who provided many fondly remembered moments (most of which involved buckets of water, ladders and broom handles) as welly-wearing Compo and wrinkly-stockinged Nora Batty.

David Brown, Radio Times, 29th August 2010

Once more the BBC salutes itself. Honestly, if they had to pay for the airtime to promote themselves, as they do constantly, the bill would be enormous. Here's ubiquitous Ian McMillan with a tribute to the longest-running sitcom in TV history as it reaches its final episode. Who'd have thought a comedy about three old men in rural Yorkshire could last so long, win so many hearts (if not mine) and make its corner of the Dales a tourist destination? Perhaps not even writer Roy Clarke and producer/director Alan JW Bell although their casting of the three originals, especially that of wonderful Peter Sallis and the late Bill Owen, was a masterstroke.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 28th August 2010

Farewell to Cleggy and co

As we enjoy the last of the Last of the Summer Wine, a warning: the longer things go on, the more the cracks will show.

Ian McMillan, The Guardian, 26th August 2010

A play by the poet, writer, performer and genial host of Radio 3's fruitful literary magazine The Verb, Ian McMillan. Frank, like his father before him, grows rhubarb but business isn't as good as it once was. So Frank has to go on the dole but, as he still wants to go on working, he invents a parallel identity, one inspired by the slightly sinister forcing shed where rhubarb (audibly) grows by night. In other words, this piece is fruity, deliciously tart, with hints of Dylan Thomas and Mary Shelley and just bursting with vitamin enhanced quizzicalities.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 31st October 2008