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Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK


Fitting send-off for Compo

Bill Owen as Last of the Summer Wine's loveable rogue Compo

Last of the Summer Wine writer Roy Clarke has promised an hilarious send off for Compo as a tribute to actor Bill Owen, who played the character until his death earlier this month.

Mr Clarke, who created the hit BBC comedy in 1973, said he was planning to make Compo's demise and funeral the centrepiece of three episodes of the next series of the BBC comedy.

He stressed that he would consult Owen's widow Cathy and son Tom about the best and most sensitive way to write the character of Compo out of the programme.

"We are still mourning Bill and will always miss him but everyone wants to give Compo a good send-off in the spirit of Summer Wine - and without offending anyone," he said.

[ image: Owen's son Tom: Will be consulted]
Owen's son Tom: Will be consulted
"All my thoughts are now focused on how I can do this in a sensitive and funny way. After all, this is a sitcom and Compo was always full of impish fun."

Bill Owen, who had played Compo since the show started, died aged 85 on 12 July after losing his battle against pancreatic cancer. He was buried a week later in Holmfirth, the Yorkshire village where the series is filmed.

The cast were only three shows into the new 10-part series. The remaining seven episodes have now been scrapped to make way for re-written programmes focusing on Compo's death.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "It would be inconceivable for the programme to go on with Compo just being written out.

"The BBC feels it would be a fitting tribute to Bill Owen's memory and important to the millions of loyal viewers."

But Mr Clarke, who has already started work on the new episodes, admitted that he was daunted by the task ahead.

"It's going to be the trickiest job I've ever had. We are not only burying a wonderful fictional character, at the same time we are losing a real and loveable man," he said.

He added that once he had finished the shows devoted to Compo, he would have to face up to writing the remaining four in the current season without him.

But, as for the long-term future of Last of the Summer Wine, Mr Clarke said it was out of his hands.

"It's up to the viewers and the BBC to decide whether this is the very last of the Summer Wine - or if it is to continue into the 21st century," he said.

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