3D Crossword Solution – January 2023

Jan 2023 grid page

Clues by Vlad and Grid by Calluna

Theme: Last of the Summer Wine pilot TV episode

The winner of the January puzzle is Ray Gallantree of Chelmsford.

Review of the January 2023 3D crossword

A New Year, a new (and may I say beautiful) Calendar, and a welcome to new solvers with a puzzle by a fresh grid designer and the rightly respected and redoubtable Vlad.

Graham Fox’s highly thematic photograph sets the pattern for a year of sumptuous colouring: here I detect an appropriate touch of nostalgia in this painterly image.

When I sat next to half of Calluna at the 2021 Calendar’s Prizes Lunch, I had no idea of the full extent of this composing team’s expertise and originality. Solvers can be delighted that there’s more to come, while this grid was for me a most welcome innovation. 9x5x5 gives a satisfying proportion to the page: no straining to see the cells, and an elegant layout which will make this page most welcome on my kitchen wall in the least attractive of months.

Nine-letter words are plentiful and varied, as the devisers of Countdown anticipated all those years ago, and with this theme the grid worked perfectly. HOLMFIRTH, the fascinating SIMMONITE and NORA BATTY (in administrative or perhaps Magyar form) satisfyingly framed the subject-matter. Compo, Clegg and Foggy (no room for the others, but you can’t have everything, and it’s with that trio that I remember the series, comforting Sunday-night watching in the 1980s, staving off the return to work the next day) fitted in beautifully.

My first clue solved was CREPUSCLE, though I had to check in Chambers that such a spelling was acceptable — of course it was, though I’d never seen it before. That shock to the system over, Vlad’s tougher challenges awaited. He had saved up a beauty for the central thematic Day 18, which gives no inkling of what is about to be revealed. Roy Clarke’s affectionate, astonishingly inventive and consistent evocations of character are well described. From that point, the six thematics should have become much easier. Vlad shows his great skill in composing such an economical and appropriate clue for the wonderful Bill Owen’s character COMPO SIMMONITE, while the other characters’ clues have a satisfying consistency about them.

There are a handful of easy clues to help us along: EDITING, NAIVE, SISAL and UNTIE come into that bracket. This was well judged by Vlad. Without those, I think I would have struggled with the harder ones, as there are a few relatively obscure words here. It was CUISH which caused me the most difficulty, and, despite having set Judd-based clues myself, I sadly didn’t manage to get Donald out of my mind, so that the parsing of that clue caused me serious trouble until disgracefully recently: that is code for ‘just now’! I am still in doubt as to the exact workings of CLEGG and RETRO, but maybe they will come to me before the Newsletter makes all clear.

Did Calluna have a stroke of luck with LILANGENI, or was the grid plan Eswatini-ready from the start? I was too stuck trying to think of Italian mathematicians who weren’t Leonardo of Pisa to be helped by Frank Paul’s delightful visual clue, and feel about integrals rather as the uninitiated tend to feel about 3D Cryptics. HALFEN, GUIRO, TWEEL and SHOYU were sympathetically clued — thank goodness! A little word here for the lovely clue for RETAILERS, which seemed to dip into Roy Clarke’s other famous creation with Arkwright, Granville and Gladys Emmanuel.

The Easter Egg was an enjoyable one to work out, and having confirmed that the invaluable YouTube stocks it, I shall have a look later. Familiarity in this sort of case breeding affection rather than contempt, I expect that will be a half-hour delightfully spent, even if first editions can be a bit rough around the edges. 

Thank you, Vlad and Calluna, for starting the year in a way that is so much more promising than one of those three dear old blokes’ ingenious plans.


Grid solution

January 2023 grid solution

Visual clue

A clue in two parts. First, a map of Italy shows the location of Milan. A dial indicates the M should be replaced with the preceding letter. The second image shows a precocious child explaining advanced mathematics, evidently a genius. The Stars and Stripes flag behind the prohibition or ‘no’ symbol tells us to delete the letters US. These two parts combine to give us the currency of Eswatini:


Visual clue for LILANGENI
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ARRAH32to A controversial prince shortly going over to Dublin — wow! (5)A + Harr(y) rev
2BELCH28to Rebel chieftain’s hiding knight in play (5)  Hidden   ref Twelfth Night
3BOOKS28up Becks has run out in reserves (5)Brooks less r
4CLEGG*4aw Ever-present on golf course’s first to take the lead (5)Leg (=on) + G  after c(ourse)
5COMPO SIMMONITE*2aw,5ac School time soon (I’m dressed as scruff) (5,9)Comp + time soon I’m*
6CREPUSCLE4ba Cullen, half hidden, creeps around in Twilight (9)Cul(len) creeps*ref Edward Cullen, major character in Twilight book
7CUISH4d What Trump uses pointlessly — sort of thigh protector (5)Cue less E + ishref Judd Trump, top snooker player
8EDITING3aw,10ac Correcting fluid ignited (7)Ignited*
9EMEER3d Where emergency shows up ruler (5)Hidden rev
10ENSIS1aw Clams up, finally leaving writer and half-sister (5)Pen less (u)p + sis(ter)
11ERROR6d Naughty boy not originally touching boob (5)Terror less t(ouching)
12FOGGY*22aw Old bloke picks up good tactical planner (5)Fogy round g
13FONDU22up Foolish Nureyev’s second ballet move (5)Fond + (N)u(reyev)
14GAMMA11d School getting mother’s third letter (5)Gam + ma
15GUIRO26up Most of gourd I adapted as percussion instrument (5)Gour(d) I *
16HALFEN20up,1aw-2 Finally watch drama all of the afternoon — was 50% previously(6)Final letters of words 2 to 7
17HOLMFIRTH*20ac Look back at husband in amusement, following where the action is (9)Lo rev after h +  f in mirth
18LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE*12aw,16ac,19to,14b-3 Er, felt Mo must win — he’s a fantastic record-breaking runner (4,2.3,6,4)Er felt Mo must win he’s a*
19LILAC21up I backed decision about The Colour Purple (5)Call rev round I
20LILANGENI12ac Niall spread information on current African money (9)  Niall* + gen + I
21LITIGATOR24ac ‘Git!’ Tailor slammed court practitioner (9)Git tailor*
22NAIVE13aw Green type of water sent back (5)Evian rev
23NORA BATTY*30ac,28ac-5 Races a peer round yard for  unlikely object of lust (4,5)TT a baron  rev  + y

24OCTET8d A month’s extra time for group (5)Oct + e/t
25OCULI31up Copper probes oil smeared round windows (5)Cu in oil*
26RETAILERS15ba Litres are tricky for  shopkeepers (9)Are litres*
27RETRO23aw Stout leader going around is reminiscent of the past (5)Porter less p rev
28SEEDY9d Shabby journalist agreed to come round in retrospect (5)Yes rev round ed
29SHOYU9to That woman almost disturbed you dressing (5)Sh(e) + you*
30SISAL5d Fibre from India eaten by uppity girl (5)I in lass rev
31SWOOSHING7ac How song is played making a rushing sound (9)How song is*
32THERM25up What about taking room temperature first? That’s a measure of heat (5)Eh rev rm after t
33TOTAL29to Complete gangster as a child? (5)Tot Al  (Capone)
34TUTTI27up I don’t approve of that note for everyone to play (5)Tut +  ti
35TWEEL17to Scottish woven fabric we let get ruined (5)We let*
36UNTIE18to Free bit of advertising from the BBC (5)Auntie less a(dvertising)
RequiredOF FUNERALS AND FISHPilot going north-east into mountains with school (2,8,3,4)off + NE in Urals + and + fish

Solvers’ comments

Enjoyed it a lot. [LA]

Thanks to Vlad and Calluna for kick-starting 2023 with January’s challenge. I had heard of the show but didn’t ever watch it, so quite a lot of internet searching was involved in getting the themed entries. There were also some very unfamiliar words, some of which were quite obscure, so it was a tricky puzzle. But I enjoyed learning more about this TV series while expanding my vocabulary along the way. [JA]

A bit of a step up in difficulty compared to other January puzzles. Hello Vlad! Not helped, for me, by lack of familiarity with the theme. Still, it all works, it parses fairly too, and the unlikely words (I’m thinking of you, LILANGENI) all really exist. But I bet I’m not the only one to consult Wikipedia’s list of famous pilots before the ‘doh!’ moment struck … [PA]

Excellent start to the year! I have never watched the show, but still found this a lot of fun to solve. Thank you [DB]

A fun reminder of an old favourite. [SB]

A very enjoyable start to 2023 and all the best to everyone for a good & successful year. [DB&MJ]

I knew very little about the theme, but I still enjoyed this classy and entertaining puzzle. The anagram proved hard at first, but by persevering with the wordplay I managed to put together the phrase that I found to be (once) associated with the theme. [AB]

There were some words which were new to me and the only summer wine I regretted drinking the last of was an apple wine which we made many years ago. I’m still trying to work out the wordplay in a couple of clues and the relevance of the picture for clue 20. Overall, I enjoyed this muchly. [JB]

Nice and chewy as you’d expect from Vlad. Enjoyed unravelling the clues and working out the parsing. Some obscure words but happy to look up and learn. Fun theme. Thanks to all. [JC]

I thought “Correcting fluid ignited” was a very good and clever clue. Well done to Vlad and thanks for the entertainment. [SC]

I’ve never really watched the show itself – just not my thing – but I am familiar enough with some of the characters and the location, just by cultural osmosis! Needed a little e-research to finish things off, but a nice and (relatively?) gentle start to the 3D cruciverbal year – thanks to Vlad and Calluna. [MC]

Some very obscure words making a tricky start to the year, not at all sure of a number of answers. The theme however I am very familiar with as a staple of my Sunday evening growing up! [MD]

Not one of my favourite programmes but I liked the puzzle. [PD]

Happy New Year puzzlers. A GREAT start to 2023… & even better if I can get it right! [RE]

Not ever having been a fan of the programme, this challenge forced me to acknowledge its undoubted appeal to many! I enjoyed solving it, thank you. [SF]

Very enjoyable even to one who had never seen the appeal of the show. Perhaps a pity that day 18 gave such an obvious way in, after which there was not very much of a challenge. Happy New Year to all. [EF]

Enjoyed this opportunity to reminisce and Compo did spring to mind early on for scruff… though I didn’t remember his surname. I thought the extra clue was going to thwart me and had to resort to anagram tool I’m afraid. Thanks for a fun start to 2023. [HH]

Happy memories — I might even start viewing some of the repeats. [TH]

Lovely puzzle. Great clueing and helpful theme. Lots of fun. [FH]

Theme came easily, and managed to hold off Wikipedia until after we had solved most of the clues. Good start to the year. [J&JH]

A charming nostalgic Yorkshire ramble to start the New Year. Thanks! [NI]

A favourite in the early days and well worth celebrating. I had to look up the Easter egg. 7 and 32 puzzling. [MJ]

New to 3D crosswords but this made a neat starter in Jan. [BJ]

Brilliant! [AJ]

Good start to the year. Pity I didn’t watch more tv in my youth. The answers might have been more obvious. [AM]

A few new words but clueing helped with them. Not a programme that I watched. The BBC has Simonite and Wikipedia your spelling! [DM]

Lovely start to a new puzzling year! [JM]

A gentle start to the year, much appreciated.👌😍 [MN]

Various clues fell into place once I had got the theme. As usual there were a few words I didn’t know but they can always be worked out and I like to learn new words. Another great puzzle to start the year. [MP]

Nice crossword on a well-known theme. Good range of clue difficulty, all quite gettable. [JP]

Excellent start to the year! [RP]

Thanks Vlad & Calluna – very much enjoyed the puzzle and theme. [JR]

I didn’t use the alphabetical order of solutions at all, so I wonder if that was an unnecessary feature. [DR]

Rather amazed I could finish it, never having watched the show! [JS]

Very entertaining puzzle to start the new year, thanks! [RS]

A very nice mix of gentle clues to start the new year, and some more obscure, challenging ones (certainly a few new words for me here!). I confess to having to research a few of the thematic references, most of which I knew from watching what I always consider the golden age of this sitcom with Clegg and Compo, but I didn’t know its original title. Frank Paul’s pictorial clue typically clever and funny. I wonder whether he would ever be up for producing an entire crossword made up uniquely of pictorial clues! [MS]

Lovely start to the year. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched an entire episode of LOTSW but it feels like it is part of a shared cultural memory so the themed solutions were all familiar names. Plenty of cheeky wordplay, I particularly liked your uppity girl. Thank you. [JT]

Loved it. Loved the programme too. [SW]

A very enjoyable start to 2023. We managed to crack the Day 18 anagram early on, which was, of course, a great help. Also delighted to have several words new to us. Thank you Vlad and Calluna – and Happy New Year to all! [CW]

An excellent start to the 3D year. I enjoyed a nostalgic look back to a 70s sitcom. [JB]

Great fun, and what a great show. [SB]

More difficult than I have found January ones in the past, but perhaps just older!! [JB]

Nice one. Some obscure answers but not too difficult Needed help with the easter egg!. [NC]

Lovely fun puzzle to start the year. Thanks to all. [BS]

My master thought that it was a fun one. Great watcher of the old comedies. I just hope that the slave has done her job properly. Thank you for these crosswords. The slave. [RG]

Excellent consruction, challenging. [DQ]

Wow we learned so many new words and facts this month, and not just the themed ones that required googling since we’ve not watched the show. But we can parse everything without having to wait for any explanations in the newsletter! [AH]

Excellent, took a while to get the theme. I did need to google the pilot and it was a new definition of Fondu and a few new words, so thank you Vlad and Calluna. [GW]

Enjoyed it. 🙂 Needed a couple of those hints though!! [HM]

A bit tricky having never seen an episode, thank goodness for Wikipedia! [AR]

One thought on “3D Crossword Solution – January 2023

  1. MS, very interesting suggestion for a picture-clue only puzzle (though Hints and Tips would give a good safety-net) which, now that I am no longer an aspiring competitor, I would find an excellent idea!

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