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



  1. I remember this being popular with my parents' generation up in Cumbria, as it was a rare outing for Northern accents, plus I had family in the brickie trade so they felt happy to see their lifestyle represented.

    I quite enjoyed the 2002 series, though for whatever reason didn't bother with the one after - perhaps expecting it to be a case of "hanging around too long" that plagued another hit 80s show, though one featuring lovable Cockney rogues...

  2. You're doing a great job trailing my soon-to-come posts !

  3. The original second season was actually set in England (for the first half) and then Spain. Poor Holton died before studio shoots for much of the Spanish set scenes which meant Wayne was constantly in another bar, chatting up the locals or doing his hair.

    I enjoyed the revival series, though the influence of Jimmy Nail as a major player softened Oz's character completely. The second season of the revival, set in Cuba, seemed to be using scripts or plot ideas from the mooted third season based in Moscow that would have gone ahead in the 80s if Holton hadn't died. It was alright (indeed, I rewatched it a couple of years ago and actually found it beared up better than I recalled) but it suffered from an absense of Timothy Spall who was written out for a few eps because of filming commitments elsewhere - The Last Samurai I think - and the misfortune of his character Barry was starting to wear very thin.

    The two-part finale, essentially a riff on Bridge Over The River Kwai, was as offensive as that sounds and utterly pointless given Pat Roach had passed away prior to filming. Barry's bad luck continued to run, being kidnapped by bandits and the gang had to go into the jungle to rescue him, and build a new village while they were about it. Ridiculous really.

    Despite all that, I still really rate the series, especially the two original seasons.