Last Of The Summer Wine (BBC1, 7.30pm)

ARE we about to drink our final drop of the Last Of The Summer Wine? There have been rumours that the 30th series will be the last and, in a recent interview, producer Alan Bell is reported as saying another series hasn’t been commissioned.

The BBC reckons no decision has been made about the future of the series that first saw the light of day in the Comedy Playhouse slot in January 1973.

Loading article content

One thing’s for sure – this is a show that makes you feel old. I spent the entire halfhour saying to myself: “Goodness, am I that old?” interspersed with “Hasn’t he got old?” as another familiar old face tottered on to the screen.

The cast of characters is so large now that the three main old codgers aside, they barely get a line of dialogue each.

Just as well, as they might not be able to remember too many lines.

When I’m not looking at the grey hair and counting the wrinkles, I’m saying: “Ooh, there’s whatsit from Keeping Up Appearances” or “It’s her from that soap on five” or even “I thought he was dead”.

The cast reads like a Who’s Who of pensionable age actors with June Whitfield, Josephine Tewson, Trevor Bannister, Jean Alexander and Christopher Beeny among them.

Writer Roy Clarke doesn’t bother with such a thing as a plot. The biggest action scene is the changing of a library book.

The title of the first episode of the new series, I Was A Hitman For Primrose Dairies, makes it sound much more interesting than it is.

Russ Abbot is the new cast arrival and, at 61, is a spring chicken compared to most of the others. He plays former milkman Luther Hobdyke who thinks he used to be a secret agent. The trouble is his memory isn’t what it was.

Luther – “I have a nose for danger” – believes in living dangerously. As he’s reminded, he once left Nora Batty semiskimmed, which amounts to having a death wish.

He incites his countryside companions, Alvin (Brian Murphy) and Entwhistle (Burt Kwouk), into taking risks and “driving through the fear barrier” but refuses to sit on damp grass.

Top of the Pops: New Year’s Eve Special (BBC1, 5.35pm) WHEN Top of the Pops ended on July 30, 2006, many fans were bereft. One of the world’s longest-running music shows had entertained generations of viewers for more than 40 years, but the advent of multi channels, DVDs and the internet meant TOTP’s monopoly on televised tunes was a distant memory.

However, it seems TOTP wasn’t dead, it was just waiting to be resurrected. Following a Christmas special, here’s a chance to look back on some of 2008’s finest tracks before we welcome 2009.

And in case you were wondering, yes, it is the first time there’s been a New Year’s Eve Pops special.

Series veterans Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates will present some of the year’s smash hits, as well as highlights from music festivals such as Glastonbury and Radio 1’s Big Weekend.

Tony Robinson and the Medieval Reincarnation (C4, 9pm) SCROOGE-LIKE viewers grumbling at the fact Tony Robinson seems to be everywhere this festive season may need ushering into the kitchen to do some washing up. Why? Because the Time Team presenter is back with this third and final programme in the short series, which sees him and science journalist Becky McCall probing paranormal puzzles.

Here, the duo lift the lid on a bizarre tale from the 1960s about a group of unconnected people who recounted similar stories to Bath psychiatrist Dr Arthur Guirdham.

They all spoke about events from their past lives – and, despite not knowing each other, their violent visions all seemed to feature the same story. Among them was a Mrs Smith, who recounted details of being a member of the Cathars, a religious group who were victimised in the 13th Century.

Were the psychiatrist’s patients all members of this sect in past lives, or is there something much less supernatural at work?