Last Of The Summer Wine most repeated comedy in 2013

Tuesday 31st December 2013, 6:08pm

Last Of The Summer Wine. Image shows from L to R: Norman Clegg (Peter Sallis), Walter C. 'Foggy' Dewhurst (Brian Wilde), William 'Compo' Simmonite (Bill Owen). Copyright: BBC

Last Of The Summer Wine, the BBC sitcom which ran from 1973 to 2010, was the most-repeated British comedy show on UK television in 2013.

Research by British Comedy Guide has determined that TV channels broadcast 1,888 repeat episodes of the sitcom in the last 365 days - more than double the figure of the second most-repeated programme, QI.

Last Of The Summer Wine, which is recognised as the world's longest running sitcom, ran for a total of 295 episodes across 31 series, meaning - on average - each episode was shown 6 times during the year, with approximately 5 episodes shown every day across 2013.

Written by Roy Clarke and set in West Yorkshire, Last Of The Summer Wine focuses on a group of pensioners and their youthful adventures. Stars across the programme's 37 year run included Bill Owen, Peter Sallis, Frank Thornton, Brian Murphy, Brian Wilde, Kathy Staff, Robert Fyfe and Juliette Kaplan.

Last Of The Summer Wine wasn't shown on any main terrestrial channels during 2013; broadcasts have all been generated by digital channels known for repeating classic shows. GOLD screened 1,320 repeats, history-orientated channel Yesterday showed the comedy 311 times, and new Freeview channel Drama has clocked up 257 repeats of the comedy since its launch in July.

This news will back up the comments by some that the BBC's 2010 axing of Last Of The Summer Wine was premature, coming whilst the series was still highly popular with viewers. Speaking to BCG last year in an interview to promote his book, producer and director Alan J W Bell said he'd been told the show was cancelled "to make way for younger talent".

The director went on to criticise the BBC for not commissioning enough shows that appeal to the older generations, saying: "As I am older now myself, I find that I never watch comedy on TV. It seems to be mandatory that four letter words and general embarrassment are necessary ingredients. When I hear them, it is an indication of the lack of skill in writing comedy, and switch off."

Last Of The Summer Wine. Image shows from L to R: Walter C. 'Foggy' Dewhurst (Brian Wilde), Howard Sibshaw (Robert Fyfe), William 'Compo' Simmonite (Bill Owen), Norman Clegg (Peter Sallis). Copyright: BBC

He also pointed out that the show being repeated indicated there was still an audience for it. "Don't forget that Last Of The Summer Wine - that programme that 'overstayed its welcome' - can be seen about twenty times a week on the UKTV satellite channels, where they get the biggest audiences."

With repeats of the comedy continuing to meet the channels' ratings targets, LOTSW looks set to be seen regularly well into 2014 too. For example, 28 repeats of the comedy are scheduled in the first seven days of the year.

Panel show QI was the second most repeated comedy format in 2013, with 920 repeats spread across BBC Two and Dave.

Old episodes of Birds Of A Feather, the sitcom which will return to television for a new series later this week after more than a decade off-air, were shown 788 times this year.

Classic sitcoms Only Fools And Horses and 'Allo 'Allo! were shown 1385 times between them. Both programmes proved popular with audiences on Gold and also benefited from high-rating repeat runs as part of the BBC's daytime schedules.

My Parents Are Aliens was the most repeated children's comedy, with 605 broadcasts on CITV.

The top 10 is as follows:

1. Last Of The Summer Wine: 1888

2. QI: 920

3. Birds Of A Feather: 788

4. Only Fools And Horses: 773

5. 'Allo 'Allo!: 612

6. My Parents Are Aliens: 605

7. Goodnight Sweetheart: 514

8. Have I Got News For You: 475

9. Keeping Up Appearances: 469

10. Russell Howard's Good News: 465

It should be noted that the above list ranks only British comedy. The American sitcom Friends outranks all these programmes, having been repeated on Comedy Central over 5,000 times in 2013.

The statistics populating the above chart were compiled as part of BCG's operations to provide a comprehensive schedule dedicated to British Comedy.

BCG's Ian Wolf acted as the researcher for this data. He explains more about the statistics and reveals more results in this blog post

Below are scenes from arguably the most famous episode of Last Of The Summer Wine, in which the gang have to transport a cast iron bath:

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