Final orders for Last of The Summer Wine

THE final episode of the world's longest running sitcom, Last Of The Summer Wine, will air this weekend.

The show, charting the exploits of pensioners growing old disgracefully, first aired in 1973 and has been a perennial favourite ever since.

Spawning much-loved characters such as Compo and Nora Batty, the affectionate series catapulted the picturesque West Yorkshire town of Holmfirth, where it is filmed, firmly into the spotlight.

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Peter Sallis OBE, who appeared in the first episode, has formed the backbone of the series as the ever-sensible Norman Clegg.

He has been joined by a string of co-stars throughout the show's tenure but perhaps it is the late Bill Owen, who played the scruffy yet indomitable Compo, who is the most associated with the programme.

Other favourites were the reliably bad-tempered Nora Batty, played by Kathy Staff, and the equally fearsome Edie Pegden, played by Dame Thora Hird.

But tomorrow the curtain will finally fall on the programme, which has boasted 295 episodes, and 31 series spanning 38 years.

Greg Christofi, who represents Holmfirth Central for Holme Valley Parish Council, said the town would miss the series but was more than prepared to cope in its absence.

Mr Christofi, whose favourite character is Compo, said: "The programme has been really good for us, it's brought a lot of attention to Holmfirth. We are proud of it.

"It has showcased our town and has been good for the local economy.

"It has been a part of our lives for as long as we can all remember and we are going to miss it.

"But Holmfirth has a lot more to it than the Last Of The Summer Wine and we have been preparing for this day for four or five years.

"Also, there's going to to be lots of repeats so it will still be on our screens for a while yet."

The show, written by Roy Clarke OBE, had its heyday in the 1970s when it regularly attracted massive audiences of 18-20 million.

Fans are believed to include the Queen and John Cleese.

A BBC spokesman said he was unable to give any details as to what will feature in the final episode.