Atheist Compo is challenged to sit in a church for 5 minutes without saying anything.





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Episode complete credited cast:
Bill Owen ...
Blake Butler ...
Rosemary Martin ...
John Comer ...
Jane Freeman ...


Atheist Compo is challenged to sit in a church for 5 minutes without saying anything.

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Release Date:

19 November 1973 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The church which Compo is forced to visit is in reality St. John's Church in Holmfirth. In 1999 the actor who played him, Bill Owen, was buried there. See more »


[first lines]
Blamire: It'll not hurt ya.
Compo: I just don't want to go into a church, that's all.
Blamire: It's just an experiment. I'm going to prove to him that he does believe whether he believes it or not.
Compo: I had enough experiments when they had me in hospital.
Clegg: What were you in for?
Compo: Two weeks.
Clegg: Ooh, very nasty; two weeks!
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References Rose-Marie (1936) See more »


Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

Compo's (Non) Conversion
19 January 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Contrary to the other reviewer's opinion (to which he is certainly entitled, of course), I actually found this to be a gem of an episode. I've been rewatching the early 'Last of the Summer Wine' episodes lately (that is, series 1-2, the ones with Michael Bates as Cyril Blamire), and while I highly enjoy many of the episodes up through the '90s and '00s, I have to same I have repeatedly been struck by the exquisite--if other-worldly--quality of Roy Clark's writing. One thing about these earlier episodes is that they are much more reliant on dialogue than subsequent ones, and while some might find that boring, with repeated viewings I've come to the conclusion that it allows Clark's unique talent to shine. His dialogue is often quite sophisticated, as well as revelatory of the characters. Dialogue here is not used simply to advance the plot; each line helps the audience come to better know Compo, Cleggy, and Cyril, right down to showing us their respective vocabularies and mannerisms.

This particular episode is about Cyril's attempts to get Compo, religious skeptic, to experience what it's like in church. The other reviewer referred to a "poor plot", and it's true that this and some of the other early episodes can be rambling (albeit passively so), but personally, I've actually come to enjoy this quality as compared to the later episodes. I have to admit that I probably find this episode especially enjoyable because it's rife with eccentric musings on the existence (or not, as the case may be) of the almighty, which as an armchair philosopher and skeptic of organized religion I find to be an interesting theme. It's also a daring one for a sitcom to take on. Is there any mainstream, non-sectarian TV show today whose writers dare to openly feature this potentially controversial topic of discussion?

No, this episode doesn't have the men getting stuck up trees, or throwing themselves about in a wheelie bin (although it does feature a memorable sequence in which Compo rolls some old oil drums down a hillside), but early episodes like this are a gift to the attentive listener: there are some marvelous conversations. I tend to agree most with Clegg's take on everlasting life: "Who needs eternity? What if you're waiting for a bus?" Maybe I'm simple, but witty rejoinders like this--which Clark often deploys at the most unexpected of moments-- have made me laugh aloud more than once. One of my other favorite lines comes from Compo, responding to Cyril's talk of God and Heaven: "If it's only for conservatives, I don't want to go." But the best line of all, as usual, goes to Cleggy, my favorite character from the show: "I think all of us worry about the possibility that the almighty is incompetent*."

Sure, some scenes are irrelevant to the main plot,such as an extended segment of the men mucking about with a kite. But the whole point is to show them indulging in carefree, childlike pleasures--such as flying kites and rolling oil drums actually quite a bit like Wind in the Willows, if one can imagine Cyril as Badger and Compo as Mr. Toad without the mansion. (Peter Sallis, who plays Clegg here, actually voiced Ratty in the 1980s claymation TV series of Wind in the Willows, but his character in 'Summer Wine' reminds me more of Mole.) The whole point of the show is that the old men are acting like children, and not doing much else. As Roy Clark put it, "They have nothing to do and all day to do it in." I find these early episodes laid-back and warm in a way that one simply doesn't find with today's TV shows, and I'd recommend any fan of British comedies seek out these early episodes. They are subtle, but I find them quite enjoyable.

*It is possible this wasn't the precise wording of the line, but it's definitely close.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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