Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet
Format Comedy-drama
Created by Franc Roddam
Written by Stan Hey (1983–86)
Franc Roddam (1983–86, 2002–04)
Ian La Frenais (1983–86, 2002–04)
Dick Clement (1983–86, 2002–04)
Directed by Roger Bamford (1983–86)
Baz Taylor (1983–84)
Paul Seed (2002)
David Innes Edwards (2004)
Maurice Phillips (2004)
Starring Tim Healy
Kevin Whately
Jimmy Nail
Gary Holton
Timothy Spall
Pat Roach
Christopher Fairbank
Noel Clarke
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 40
Production
Executive producer(s) Allan McKeown (1983–86)
Producer(s) Martin McKeand (1983–86)
Chrissy Skinns (2003)
Joy Spink (2002–04)
Editor(s) Dave King (2002)
Les Healey (2004)
Cinematography Tim Palmer (2004)
Running time 50 minutes (1983–86)
60 minutes (2002–04)
Production company(s) Central Television (1983–86)
Witzend Productions (2002–04)
Distributor Ziji Productions
Broadcast
Original channel ITV (1983–86)
BBC One (2002–04)
Original airing Original series:
11 November 1983 –
16 May 1986
Revived series:
28 April 2002 –
8 February 2004
Christmas specials:
28 – 29 Dec 2004
Chronology
Followed by Parents of the Band (2008–09)

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet is a British comedy-drama television programme about seven English migrant construction workers. In the first series, the men live and work on a building site in Düsseldorf.

The lead roles were performed by Tim Healy, Kevin Whately, Jimmy Nail, Gary Holton, Christopher Fairbank, Pat Roach, and Timothy Spall.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was created by Franc Roddam, and was mostly written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who also wrote The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and Porridge. Stan Hey also contributed writing a number of episodes. The first two series were co-produced by Clement and LaFrenais's Witzend Productions and Central Television for ITV. (The assistance of ITV was necessary at that time to gain access to the network.) ITV broadcast the series in 1983-1984, and 1986. A successful revival of the show saw two series and a Christmas special shown on BBC One (after ITV had failed to re-secure rights for the Network) in 2002 and 2004.

The show was the subject of the first episode of the BBC documentary series Drama Connections (2005).

Contents

Origins and plot

Series 1: 1983–84

The first series, co-produced by Witzend Productions and Central Television for ITV in 1983, is the story of seven out-of-work builders from various parts of England who are forced to look for work in West Germany, although it focuses primarily on three men from Newcastle upon Tyne making the journey to Germany, with the others being introduced along the way. (The title refers to their farewells to their wives and girlfriends - "Auf Wiedersehen" being German for "Farewell" or "Goodbye", and "Pet" being a North-East English term of endearment).

They find work on a German building site in Düsseldorf but despite promises of hostel accommodation, are forced to live in a small hut that reminds them of a POW camp. The rest of the series is driven by the interactions and growing friendships between the various characters: for instance, Barry, an electrician from the Black Country, is an obsessive bore; Neville, one of the Geordie bricklayers, is an insecure young newlywed; fellow Geordie Oz, another bricklayer, is aggressive and jingoistic; and London carpenter Wayne is a womanizer. The third Geordie is Dennis, a bricklayer who, being older, more experienced and generally more mature than the others, becomes the de facto leader of the group. The others are Bristolian bricklayer Bomber and Liverpudlian ex-con plasterer Moxey. Over the course of 13 episodes the "Magnificent Seven" enjoy lots of comic and romantic adventures, until a change in German tax laws forces them to return home.

The series was extremely well received, with praise for the writing and acting[citation needed].

The "building site" used for most of the filming was a set created on the backlot of the former ATV studios at Borehamwood (then owned by Central) and sometimes referred to as one of the Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. After its sale to the BBC in 1984, the "Albert Square" set of EastEnders was later built there. Such was the attention to detail that the producers imported thousands of bricks from West Germany as these were slightly bigger than those used on British building sites.[1]

The show was one of the first to use lightweight video cameras on location in drama production. Previously used in Electronic News Gathering they were more versatile and cheaper to use than studio-based cameras. Interior scenes (such as those in the bar) were shot in studios at Borehamwood. Some location filming was conducted in Hamburg, despite the fact the series was set in Düsseldorf. Spotters will notice that in these scenes all the cars' registration numbers begin with HH denoting Hamburg (HH = Hansestadt Hamburg).

In 1989, TVS decided to repeat the first series in an unusual style. This was to cut down the episodes to 30 minute shows - when removing advert breaks (25 minutes) - this meant in the end that they had 26 episodes to transmit. The shows were heavily edited and often had no purpose to the storyline - leaving many viewers confused. The episodes were transmitted at pre-watershed 7.30pm on a Sunday night viewing. The edited 26 shows were then shown in all regions. TVS never did the same editing for Series 2.

Series 2: 1986

The second series of 13 episodes in 1986 saw the boys reunited, initially to help Barry complete some building work on his house in Wolverhampton. Dennis is working for a crooked businessman, Ally Fraser (played by Bill Paterson), after building up large gambling debts to him. Dennis encourages the rest of the gang to help renovate a country manor house owned by Fraser, Thornely Manor, but end up falling foul of the snobbish locals. Fraser then invites the boys to Spain and refurbish his swimming pool at his Spanish villa. Once in Spain, the gang are mistaken for criminals themselves, and the series ends with them fleeing the Spanish police in a motor yacht, together with Barry's new wife, who had only expected a wedding at sea.

Actor Gary Holton died before some of the final indoor scenes were filmed, and the scripts had to be reworked to explain Wayne's absence from these indoor scenes. Examples of this include various characters enquiring about Wayne's whereabouts, only to be told that he was chatting up a girl in the next room or that he had gone away for the day. A double was used in other scenes, such as one where Bomber manhandles Wayne away from Ally's girlfriend in a nightclub. These reworkings may not be overly apparent if the viewer was not aware of the situation but are easily noticeable watching the series back. The transmission of the final episode of Series 2 (Quo Vadis Pet) saw an introduction by Tim Healy dedicating the episode to Holton.

Location scenes in the UK were shot around the villages of Caunton, Nottinghamshire and Redmile, Leicestershire. Roundhill Primary School, Beeston, Nottinghamshire was used as the location for 'Walker Street Middle School'. Some scenes were also filmed in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. Studio scenes were filmed at Central's new studios in Nottingham, replacing those at Borehamwood.

Revival

Series 3: 2002

In 2002 the show was revived, this time as a 6-part series made by Ziji Productions for BBC One. The original writers and all of the surviving cast returned, joined by Noel Clarke as Wayne's son Wyman. The characters all appeared to have moved on; Moxey was no longer a wanted criminal, Oz had given up drinking; Neville and Barry were both successful businessmen. Dennis, however, was employed as a drug dealer's driver. The series' storyline revolves around a plan by a corrupt politician (played by Bill Nighy), whom Oz had met in prison, to demolish the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge (a real-life industrial landmark) and sell it for reconstruction elsewhere. Persuading Oz to get the old gang back together to dismantle the bridge, he then plans to cheat them out of their share of the profits, until a Native American from Arizona (played by Gordon Tootoosis) turns up to announce that he would like to buy the bridge for the benefit of his tribe's casino, and flies them to his reservation to reconstruct the bridge.

Each episode except the first featured a re-cap of the previous episode's events in a voiceover from Dennis, a feature not continued in the fourth series.

The special effects depicting the demolition of the bridge were so realistic that many people believed it was really being demolished, forcing the BBC to add a caption to the last episode reassuring them that it was still there.

Despite some initial scepticism that the reunion would not work, the show was an immediate hit.

Comic Relief sketch

Some of the cast made an appearance on Comic Relief's Red Nose Day 2003, in which they find a suitcase full of money in a Miami hotel room and assume it belongs to a drug dealer who wants to shoot them - but actually it belongs to U2, who invite them to their penthouse.

Series 4: 2004

A fourth series of 6 episodes was aired on BBC One from 4 January to 8 February 2004. The characters now work as building subcontractors for the British Embassy, and are posted to Havana, where Neville is reluctantly recruited as a spy for the British, Oz falls in love with a local ballet dancer, and Barry finds himself in prison on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Despite extensive negotiations between the BBC and the Cuban Government, it was not possible to obtain permission to film in Cuba, so the series was actually shot in the Dominican Republic.

Special

Two one-hour episodes were shot in Bangkok and Chiang Mai in July - August 2004 and broadcast on BBC 1 on 27 and 28 December. Shooting in Bangkok took place partly in the red-light district Soi Cowboy. Pat Roach, although suffering from cancer, had hoped to appear in the mini-series, but was not well enough and died in July. In a touching scene, Dennis reads a letter from Bomber to the rest of the group while they are all dining in a restaurant, where he explains his reasons for not having joined them. The group lift their glasses and drink a toast; "To Bomber!".

The story sees the remaining six working in a British Embassy somewhere in central Africa that is about to be overrun by rioters. Most of them escape uninjured, except for Oz who sustains a painful injury to the rectum protecting a female staff member (while they are having sex) from a bomb.

The boys then move on to Laos and later Thailand, where Barry's Russian ex-wife turns up to announce that she is carrying his child following a brief "reconciliation". Barry is then kidnapped and held by guerrillas in a village in Laos. When the others follow they are also captured, but Dennis has an idea (inspired by the film The Bridge on the River Kwai) of working for the villagers to prevent the guerrillas from moving them on. Eventually they are able to steal the guerrilla leader's mobile phone and send a call for help. It turns out that the man who set them up to the guerillas was actually Neville's corrupt spymaster (from Series 4). Deprived of their hostages, the guerrillas decide to kidnap him instead.

In the final scenes Dennis, Neville and Oz ask the Embassy to give them an assignment in a nice peaceful country - and find themselves heading back to Germany once more. When Neville is asked what Brenda said to him before he boarded the ferry, he replied that she said "Auf wiedersehen... pet." Following a dedication to Pat Roach, the closing credits of the final episode are accompanied by the opening theme tune from Series 1.

Characters

  • Dennis Patterson (Tim Healy) - Dennis, whether he likes it or not, has been co-opted as the leader of the seven. When we first meet the Geordie bricklayer, he is being divorced by his first wife Vera. He later has an affair with a German on-site secretary named Dagmar, played by Brigitte Kahn. In series two, he is working for a Newcastle-Upon-Tyne gangster, Ally Fraser, to whom he is in debt. Fraser has a notorious reputation throughout the northeast. Dennis has two children and can sometimes be short-tempered, but is basically a man of high moral standards and good people skills. At the opening of the third series, he is driving a mini-cab for a living and supplementing his income by working as a drug-dealer's driver.
  • Neville Hope (Kevin Whately) - Neville is under the thumb of his formidable wife Brenda. He constantly worries about the welfare of his wife and three children, and his heart is in Newcastle. He married young and has no regrets about it, although in the third series he is clearly suffering from a mid-life crisis.
  • Leonard "Oz" Osborne (Jimmy Nail) - Oz, in the original series was a loud, belligerent, abrasive, drunken Geordie lout who showed no fidelity towards his wife or concern for his son. He had a xenophobic attitude to Germans, and later to Turks and Spaniards. His major passions in life were drinking and supporting Newcastle United. At the end of the second series, he wins the Spanish lottery and spends much of his new-found wealth on presents for his friends, but has squandered it by the beginning of the third series, in which he re-unites his five surviving pals at his own phoney funeral. By this time the character has changed somewhat, becoming more mature and less violent, and is prepared to lead his friends off on new adventures overseas. His son has grown up and is gay, which at first horrifies Oz.
  • Barry Spencer Taylor (Timothy Spall) - Barry is a bashful, boring, bumbling West Midlander (he mentions connections with West Bromwich and Wolverhampton and has a poster of Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. on the wall of his office) electrician with a large vocabulary and a motorbike. His tendency to be 'boring' and to look on the bleak side of things are mocked by his mates, but they retain some affection for him. He has been married twice, first to a local girl named Hazel (played by Melanie Hill), who left him for another woman, which is found out in the third series. He then later marries the glamorous Russian Tatiana played by Branka Katic. Both marriages end in divorce, but at the end of the series he is reconciled with Tatiana.
  • Wayne Winston Norris (Gary Holton, d. 1985) - Wayne, as he so accurately describes himself, is a 'Jack the lad', a chirpy chippy (carpenter), who's proud of his Cockney roots. His obsession with women often lands him and his friends in trouble. He drives a flash red BMW and wears a trademark red/blue hockey jacket (also an electric pink blazer early in the first series). At the end of the first series, Wayne marries Christa, (played by Lysette Anthony), a secretary at the building site. The character of Wayne died in the year 2000 due to a congenital heart problem (according to his son, who knows little about his life or death), by way of explaining why he was no longer in the show. He was replaced by his illegitimate son Wyman (although this character had less charisma than Wayne, and was, according to some critics, "a great deal more irritating and far less likeable). Gary Holton died in 1985 after overdosing on drugs and before the filming of the second series finished. Often, Wayne's absence in the second series is explained in dialogue with phrases like "He's gone to town to look for girls", so the audience is not left wondering where he is. The series was not filmed in chronological order; indeed, he is present in the final episode yet noticeably absent during earlier Spanish indoor scenes. The last episode is dedicated to the late Gary Holton.
  • Albert Arthur Moxey (Christopher Fairbank) - Moxey is the only character not introduced in the first episode. He's a Liverpudlian plasterer with bad acne and originally a stutter, although he has clearly had it cured by the time of the third series. Despite his friendly exterior, Moxey has a dark side: he is a convicted arsonist. At the beginning of the second series, he absconds from an open prison, and is thereafter on the run. He emigrated to Australia in the final episode.
  • Brian "Bomber" Busbridge (Pat Roach, d. 2004) - Bomber is a quiet West Country brickie [known as the gentle giant, the toughest member of the group with a towering height of 6 ft 5 in and a great physical shape] with rippling muscles and a bushy beard, having worked as both a professional wrestler and a nightclub bouncer. He very often 'goes with the flow' and lets others make decisions, much to the respect and admiration of his associates. He laid his last brick before the final two episodes. In real life, Pat Roach had been a very popular star of ITV television wrestling shows throughout the 60s, so his series character had great authenticity for viewers.
  • Wyman Ian Norris (Noel Clarke) is introduced in season 3 at the "funeral for Oz" where they find out Wayne died a few years ago. He is a DJ but then decides to join the gang to try to make some money on the bridge job and find out more about his father he never knew.

Supporting cast

The Wives, Girlfriends and Exes

  • Lysette Anthony as Christa: Girlfriend of Wayne (Later wife then Ex-wife) (Series 1 & Mentions in Series 2)
  • Su Elliot as Marjorie Osbourne: Ex-Wife of Oz (Series 1–2)
  • Melanie Hill as Hazel Redfearn: 1st Wife of Barry (Series 2)
  • Caroline Hutchinson as Vera Patterson: Ex-Wife of Dennis (Series 1)
  • Branka Katic as Tatiana Taylor: 2nd Wife of Barry (Series 3–4 & Special)
  • Georgina Lightning as Lainie Proudfoot: Girlfriend of Bomber (Series 3)
  • Josefina Gabrielle as Ofelia Ortiz: Ex-Girlfriend of Oz (Series 4)
  • Lesley Saint John as Vicky: Girlfriend of Ally Fraser and Oz (Series 2)
  • Julia Tobin as Brenda Hope: Wife of Neville (Series 1–4 & Special)

The main supporting cast from all four series

  • Michael Sheard as Herr Grunwald (series 1)
  • Peter Birch as Herr Ulrich (series 1)
  • Brigitte Kahn as Dagmar (series 1)
  • Michael Elphick as Magowan (series 1)
  • Ray Winstone as Colin Latham (series 1)
  • Bill Paterson as Ally Fraser (series 2)
  • Val McLane as Norma (series 2): is Dennis Patterson's older sister. she let Dennis live at her house when he divorced his wife Vera. she dissaproved of her brothers dealings with Ally Frazer. she was also close to Brenda and Neville Hope. she wasn't happy when Moxey and Oz began sleeping in her front room. she was not seen or mentioned after Series 2.
  • James Booth as Kenny Ames (series 2)
  • Bryan Pringle as Arthur Pringle (series 2)
  • Catherine Rabbett as Carole Pringle (series 2)
  • Kevin Lloyd as Harry Blackburn (series 2)
  • Madelaine Newton as Christine Chadwick (series 2)
  • Ying Tong John as Big Baz (series 2): was Ally Fraers most trusted henchman. Althought he appears as a hard man, he has been punched by both Bomber and Oz. with Bomber breaking his nose.
  • John Bowler as Howard Radcliffe (series 2)
  • James Bate as Malcolm Hallwood (series 2)
  • Simon Smith as Trevor (series 2)
  • Barry Hollinshead as Rodney Osbourne (series 2-3)
  • Eric Mason as Terry Leather (series 2)
  • Bill Nighy as Jeffrey Grainger (series 3)
  • Emily Bruni as Sarah (series 3)
  • Michael Angelis as Mickey Startup (series 3)
  • Zelda Tinska as Irena (series 3)
  • Gordon Tootoosis as Joe Saugus (series 3)
  • Aleksandar Mikich as Dhori (series 3)
  • Dragan Mićanović as Kadi (series 3)
  • Sandra James-Young as Chrissie (series 4)
  • Caroline Harker as Pru Scott-Johns (series 4)
  • Clive Russell as Gary Turnbull (series 4)
  • Alexander Hanson as Tarquin Pearce (series 4 & special)
  • Zoë Eeles as Tina (series 4)was the assistant of Tarquin Pearce and a love interest for Wyman Norris. It is speculated that she has had a sexual relationship with Taraquin. Tina and Wyman's romance ended when the Lads completed their work in Cuba.
  • Javier Alcina as Raúl Ortiz (series 4)
  • David Cheung as Michael Goy (series 4)
  • Hector Then as Neville's Minder (Series 4)

Music

The opening and closing credits for the first two series were each accompanied by songs performed by Joe Fagin. In series one "Breakin' Away", written by David Mackay and Ian La Frenais, accompanied the opening credits. Ken Ashby collaborated with Mackay on "That's Livin' Alright'", a song that closed each episode. The songs were released as a single, with "That's Livin' Alright" as the A-side, and reached number three in the UK singles chart in January 1984.[2] It was released again in 1995 when the show was repeated on Channel 4. With additional lyrics by Jimmy Lawless, Fagin released a new version of "That's Livin' Alright" for England's 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign. "That's England Alright" was released on 5 June 2006.[2][3]

Mackay and La Frenais also collaborated on "Get it Right", the song used for the opening credits of series two. Like the first series, Ken Ashby collaborated with Mackay for series two's closing credits song, "Back With the Boys Again". The two tracks were released together as a double-sided single, but only reached number 53 in the UK charts in April 1986.[4]

The tradition of using two separate songs was broken when the BBC revived the show. Instrumental music opened each episode of the third series. However, the closing credits were accompanied by Mark Knopfler's song "Why Aye Man", taken from his album The Ragpicker's Dream. Incidental music was used for the fourth series and for the special. However, when the character of Dennis reveals a photograph of all of the original group taken in Germany, "Breakin' Away" begins and continues over the final credits of the show.

References

External links


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