William 'Compo' Simmonite (Bill Owen) (1973 - 2000) - Dressed in a green hat, a scruffy jacket and trousers and Wellington boots or ("Wellies" as he called them), Compo rarely (if ever) worked for a living, preferring the lazy life. The name probably derived from the term 'compo' a shortened version of the word 'compensation',[2] sometimes used to refer to people living off compensation from an on-the-job injury. A great physical comedian, Compo was often the butt of jokes arising from the many dirty jobs, stunts and escapades that were a central feature of the series. They always went wrong however, and Compo would either hit the other two with his hat, blow a raspberry or stick his fingers up. Another recurring theme was Compo's affection for his next-door neighbour, Nora Batty, of whose 'wrinkled stockings' he would frequently despair.

Compo lead a seemingly idyllic lifestyle, chatting and bickering with others, betting on horses, and playing with his ferrets, as well as making the ladies scream with his matchbox. In fact, Compo was written as a fragile underdog, with a childlike addiction to fun and the joys of living. He thrives on the authority and argument he gets from the third member of the trio, as is evident from the regret he expresses in his moping around the café after the departure of Blamire in the third series episode, "The Man from Oswestry."[3]

Compo was written out of the series in 2000 following the death of Bill Owen the year before. Although the actor had been seriously ill, according to Truly and Clegg, it was the sight of Nora Batty in chorus girl clothes that finished Compo off, but he died with a smile on his face (as claimed by Truly, Clegg and Nora).[4] Compo was referred to as 'Uncle Bill' by his nephew Gordon Simmonite during the third series in 1976.


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