I was saddened this a.m. to read Aaron Goldstein’s R.I.P. for Burt Kwouk. He was a member of that seemingly endless pool of fine British character actors. My wife and I enjoyed Kwouk as Cato in the Pink Panther movies. It added an element of suspense to the scenes, wondering when Cato would come bursting out of somewhere and attack Clouseau (my favorite, I believe, is when in Return he bursts out of the refrigerator when Clouseau opens it — this classic scene linked in Aaron’s blog). We also liked him in Last of the Summer Wine. He played Entwistle, the electrician of questionable competence (hard to tell if he knew positive from negative). His shtick was claiming and dispensing straight-faced Oriental wisdom, when in fact he was as English as anyone else and could as well have been named Nigel. (Kwouk was born in Lancashire.)
Discriminating TAS readers might enjoy Summer Wine. It’s gentle humor based around a bunch of retired guys, and the women who tolerate them (barely), with lots of time on their hands in a small Yorkshire town who are essentially in their second childhoods. All the major characters, and there are a dozen or more, are in their seventies or eighties (save for one “young” couple, Barry and Glenda, who appear to be in their fifties). You hardly see anyone over 50 in American sitcoms, let alone an entire cast of wrinklies, who — surprise, surprise — can have lives as interesting as 30-somethings.
By the way, Summer Wine is the longest running TV Sitcom anywhere: 295 episodes between 1973 and 2010. The show was created and written by Roy Clarke — no relation to the pickin’ and grinnin’ Roy Clark of Hee Haw fame. Clarke wrote several other sit-coms, including Open All Hours and Keeping Up Appearances, both of which re-pay the viewing time.