Maggie Ollerenshaw has kindly shared her memories of playing Mrs Clegg:
- How did you come to be cast in the series?
Well, it was an offer I’m very pleased to say, I think probably because I’d done Open All Hours, therefore Roy knew me very well, and I just went to see, have a meeting with Gareth Gwenlan, who directed the pilot, so that’s how it happened.
I think I might have done one episode of Last of the Summer Wine and then I did two more subsequently, you know much later on, after I’d done First.
- How did you go about creating the character?
I just worked off the script, I think usually one of the best things about Roy as a writer is that I don’t think you have much trouble deciding who the character is, it’s usually quite clear from what he’s written, who they are. So I just worked off the script, the character was there on the page as far as I could see.
Roy didn’t give us any indication of Mr and Mrs Clegg’s past or what became of them, he’s not that sort of hands on writer, all I needed to know was from the script and on the page. Who knows what happened to them?!
- What are your memories of working with the older cast members? Peter Sallis, Derek Benfield
I don’t think I’d worked with Peter before. Obviously I knew who he was and I thought it was a great privilege to work with him because he was an extremely talented and rather eccentric actor and very private person. It was a privilege to work with him.
I can remember the scenes with Peter and David well, in the Clegg’s kitchen. Mainly they used to fill me with dread as well because usually I would have to be doing stuff. I can remember having to cook a breakfast and there was one in the pilot I think where we were almost obscured by the washing, the steam from washing going on at the same time. But I usually had a lot to do in those scenes as well, activity wise. I think I had to do a bit of the cooking of the breakfast at a few points; that was why the food was really good, because it was done for real.
I didn’t get to know Derek Benfield well, but of course we always had a read through on the Monday, so we always did meet everybody, even if we weren’t in the same scenes with them. What I remember most about Derek was he was very dry and also what a cricket fan he was. He couldn’t wait to get out of rehearsals and get back home to watch the cricket!
- What are your memories of working with the younger cast members?
I hadn’t worked with any of them before, I didn’t know any of them, but I thought they were all terribly good, I thought it was really well cast. As far as they’re concerned, the only one I did and have kept in touch with was David, and I suppose really that’s because we became quite close because I was playing his mum, and so I sort of became a sort of surrogate mum for him I think and even more so when his real mum died you know.
It was kind of odd for me in a way because I was kind of a bridge between the young characters, and it was mainly young characters of course, and myself and few other people, and then the much older characters.
The other character who I remember getting on very well with was Madge Hindle. She was Clegg’s auntie, my sister, she came to a wedding. It was great to meet her because I knew who she was but had never met her or come across her or worked with her before, so that was terrific, and I’m still in touch with her.
- Which locations did you film at and what are your memories of location filming?
- What are your memories of studio filming?
It’s difficult to remember what the balance was between location and studio filming. The pilot of course was all on film, so that was all on location. But how the split was between location and studio in the series, I can’t quite remember.
In the first scene of the pilot, Mrs Clegg takes to her bed with a copy of Picturegoer. I wish there’d been more of that, because to me that really was the key to setting that character up, I loved this idea that she used to take to her bed for a day now and again and read the film magazines.
- Can you tell us a bit more about the costumes, sets and vehicles used?
I just loved the period, I’ve always loved the 30’s and 40’s era. I loved the period, so I liked the clothes, not that I personally got to where that much because I was in my pinny in the kitchen. But for the wedding I remember I liked my hat and stuff like that. I remember we had a jolly time.
We used to stay in this rather eccentric little hotel in Huddersfield, called the Huddersfield Hotel. I remember particularly the manager of the Huddersfield Hotel, called Paul, he had seen it all, he’d met them all, he was full of stories, we used to have lots of fun with him.
- Do you keep in touch with any of the cast?
Just David and Madge Hindle.
- Do you have a favourite memory and/or favourite episode?
No, it does seem so long ago. I’ve met a lot of actors and done a lot of work since then so a lot of it is lost in the mists of time.
I think the series is forgotten, not even known about in a sense, sometimes I’ll mention it, even to people in the business and they’ll go “First of the Summer Wine?” Everybody’s heard of Last, but it’s completely forgotten, which is amazing considering there was a pilot and then two series.
I think in an ideal world what Roy Clarke would have wanted was to phase out Last of the Summer Wine and have this as a kind of a replacement. I think the fact that they were both running simultaneously may be didn’t help. What I know he said to me once, what he would have loved to have done would have been to take the boys through the war. That’s what he would really have liked to have done.
- What have you been doing since FOTSW ended?
Loads of stuff, Still Open All Hours at the moment, I’ve probably been in sort of all the major series, I did a couple of stints on Coronation Street, I did Midsummer Murders, Casualty, Holby City, The House of Elliot, on and on and on. I’ve also done a lot stuff in the theatre, I had my own one woman show which I wrote for myself about Vera Lynn, called Sincerely Yours, which I toured all over the British Isles and took abroad, I don’t do it any more, I think I first did it in something like ’91 and did it on and off for about 10 years. And I’ve also done quite a bit of writing, plays. I’m just about to start rehearsing a new play by Peter Quilter called 4000 Days at the Park Theatre with Alistair McGowan and Daniel Weyman.
Many thanks to Maggie for providing this contribution and photograph and for supporting the site.