Thursday, 30 March 2017
645 Auf Wiedersehen Pet
First viewed : 11 November 1983
This isn't going to be very lengthy as I only saw one full length episode and that was the first. Along with a number of house mates, I watched it almost with a sense of obligation because a lad called Roger Smoothy - that was his real name - was so anxious to see it as he'd lived in Dusseldorf for a time.
The comedy drama series followed the adventures of a group of British expatriate workers thrown together on a building site in Germany. There was a core trio of three Geordies, sensible middle-aged Dennis ( Tim Healy ), appalling boor Oz ( Jimmy Nail ) and wet behind the ears youngster Neville ( Kevin Whately ) who arrived together but others such as Cockney chancer Wayne ( Gary Holton ) and boring Brummie Barry ( Timothy Spall ) were regulars throughout the series. It was initially linked to Boys From The Blackstuff but the tone couldn't have been more different. It was largely written by Likely Lads creators Clement and La Frenais ( though the concept originated with Quadrophenia director Franc Roddam ) and had much more in common with their previous work.
As D.C. alluded to in a previous comment the series was noted for a very chauvinistic view of women that wouldn't be tolerated today. I recall that in the first episode there's a scene where some of the guys visit the red light district and pick their prostitute for the night. Oz alights on a part Oriental girl called Suzie Mo and keeps banging on about it the next day - "Sex is in its infancy in Gateshead !"
One other thing that interested me was the presence of Big Pat Roach, a familiar face from the professional wrestling circuit, in a regular role as "Bomber". I'd seen him as a heavy with minimal dialogue in one or two films but it was nice to see him getting an opportunity to actually act.
I remember when it finished, Roger asked "What did you think of it ?" which was a strange question as you couldn't really expect anyone else to be all that interested in the setting. I think I said something bland and non-committal but I hadn't really liked it and didn't tune in the next week.
There were two original seasons, the second one being set in England. The hard-living Holton died before filming was completed ( necessitating some tweaking ) and that seemed to be the end of the series. It was however revived on BBC 1 as a six-part series in 2002 with Noel Clarke replacing Holton as Wayne's son , bringing both youth and an ethnic minority character into the series. I saw some of the first episode on repeat years later . It revolved around a silly plot to dismantle the Middlesbrough transporter bridge and relocate it to America. A further series was made in 2004. It was finally put to bed at Christmas that year with two special episodes in which the seriously ill Roach was unable to take part. He died while they were being filmed