Saturday, 21 January 2017
588 Allo' Allo !
First viewed : 30 December 1982
This has cropped up a little bit earlier than I expected. This is because the pilot was shown more than eighteen months before the first series aired.
Allo' Allo ! was the latest series from David Croft although it was a collaboration with his less frequent writing partner Jeremy Lloyd rather than Jimmy Perry. Lloyd and Croft's collaborations were generally more risque ( as in Are You Being Served ? with Mrs Slocombe's pussy) and Allo' Allo ! pushed the boat out further in that respect.
Allo' Allo' , at least at first ,was a surprisingly close parody of Secret Army. You could draw direct links between many of the characters , Rene was Albert, Michelle was Yvette, Herr Flick was Kessler and so on. Rene the hapless cafe owner was forced to work for both the Resistance in hiding two British airmen ( both completely useless upper class twits ) and the Germans, venal rather than evil here, in smuggling works of art. As well as that he was always juggling between three or four different women. who found him irresistible.
Allo' Allo! was therefore unusually demanding of its audience for a primetime sitcom with its absurdly complicated plots stretching over a number of episodes. This necessitated the recap from Rene that commenced each show. Gorden Kaye had been a journeyman actor for well over a decade , his nearest brush with stardom being a short stint in Coronation Street but he took this chance with both hands and as the fulcrum around which the storylines revolved, made himself a household name.
My mum's favourite character was Crabtree, the British agent posing as a French policeman. He was played by Arthur Bostrom who seems to have been in the audience at the Bolton Octagon every time I've ventured there.
The series had to take an enforced break in 1990 when Kaye was nearly killed in a freak storm in the South of England. I think I'd already drifted away by then and it was finally put to bed in 1992. A reunion show fifteen years later passed me by completely.