The longest running comedy series in the world started out, as many British comedy successes did, with a 1973 episode of the BBC series "Comedy Playhouse". The basis was simple but complex at the same time, telling the stories of three old men, who in all essence couldn't be more young at heart.
The original trio consisted of Bill Owen, as Compo Simmonite, the scruffiest man in Yorkshire, with only two passions in life: his ferrets and Nora Batty (Kathy Staff).
The second man of the group, Norman Clegg, played by Peter Sallis, was from the beginning shown as the most timid of the group, and also the one who gets carried away by the crazy ideas and schemes of his companions, which always seem to get him in trouble.
Initially the third man of the group was Blamire, played by Michael Bates, but he was soon replaced by Foggy Dewhurst (Brian Wilde) who always seems to have a scheme or a story that somehow leads to his old days as a war hero... or so he says.
In 1986 Brian Wilde left the series, to start filming his new sitcom, which proved to be a wrong move, as the show hadn't the success needed to sustain even a second series. during his 4 year absence from last of the summer wine Michael Aldridge played Seymour, the new third man of the trio, until 1990. Brian Wilde returned to do the next seven years of the show.
When Brian Wilde left the series for the second time in 1997 Frank Thornton replaced him as the new third man on the trio as Truly Truelove of the Yard, an ex-police officer who's always remembering his past, both in the police force and in his former marriage to the former Mrs Truelove. When Bill Owen passed away, his son Tom joined the series, replacing him for the rest of the season as Compo's long lost son, Tom. Compo's permanent replacement would come the next year when Keith Clifford joined the cast as Billy Hardcastle, a man who fancies himself the descendant of Robin Hood.
In 2003, the traditional trio became a quartet with the addition of Brian Murphy as Alvin Smedley, Nora Batty's new next door neigbour. With the addition of Alvin, an element of physical humour missing since Compo's death returned to the series. The quartet once again became a trio when Keith Clifford left the series in 2006. In 2009, the series was once again redesigned to allow Sallis and Thornton a reduced role on the series. A new third man was introduced in the form of Hobbo Hobdyke (Russ Abbott), a former milkman who fancies himself a former MI-5 agent. By...