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18 facts you may not know about Auf Wiedersehen, Pet



A collection of little known facts about much loved comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

The fatal meeting between creator Franc Roddam and writers Clement and La Frenais took place at Café Moustache, Melrose Avenue, LA.

Before discovering his writing talent, La Frenais was a cigarette seller.

Pat Roach auditioned for the role of Darth Vader in 1976 but was beaten to the role by David Prowse.

Jimmy Nail’s girlfriend, Miriam heard about the auditions and suggested that he try out to be an extra. At that point, Jimmy was in a band called The Crabs and he used to perform in a dress and hobnailed boots. When the first series transmitted some viewers complained that they couldn’t understand what Jimmy was saying. “Neither could I and I wrote the bloody thing,” jokes Dick Clement.

Before getting his starring role, Chris Fairbank had spent a year working as a deck-hand and was shipwrecked. He eventually returned to England and the RSC.

Kevin Whately and Julia Tobin went to the same drama school before becoming the Hope husband and wife team.

Kevin’s real-life wife, Madelaine Newton, and his daughter, Catherine, both appear in series two. Madelaine played Dennis’ love interest, Christine Chadwick. Catherine played Neville and Brenda’s fictional daughter.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet Return of the Seven

The first locations were shot in Hamburg where a suitable building site had been found for exteriors. The exterior was re-created brick for brick in Elstree studios for the interior shoot but all the bricks had to be imported from Germany as German bricks differ from their English counterparts. And a German portable loo was imported too!

Before shooting in the UK began the cast were sent on a practical bricklaying course.

Whilst at Elstree, Pat Roach combined filming Auf Wiedersehen, Pet with his appearance in Never Say Never Again which involved a lengthy fight scene with Sean Connery. The film was shooting on a different Elstree lot. Pat then moved on to film his next role: Chief Guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The first ever episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet transmitted on Friday 11 November 1983 at 9.00pm on ITV. 10,806,000 viewers tuned in.

Location options for series two were Spain’s Marbella, Saudi Arabia and the Falklands. With Saudi Arabia’s strict no alcohol regime, the writers didn’t think it was a natural home for Britain’s booze-loving brickies. Whereas the Falklands didn’t seem to have the story potential of Spain.

Law and Disorder

The second series went into production in the spring of 1985 although it was almost halted due to industrial action by the electrician’s union.

Tim Healy proved handy with a paddle during the filming of series two when he consistently beat the rest of the cast at table tennis.

Fifteen years on, the idea for series three was initiated by Franc Roddam and Jimmy Nail. They did all the preparation including writing the show’s 160 page bible outlining all the characters and plot lines.

In order to get the role of Wyman in series three, Noel Clarke had to pass his driving test. Noel’s also not keen on flying. Having made it to Arizona in a small propeller plane, he refused to return in it and was driven back to Phoenix when making the return journey. “Planes in this day and age shouldn’t have propellers,” he insists.

Bridging The Gap

The special effects team who helped create all the Transporter Bridge graphics in series three were done by a company called Men from Mars. Middlesbrough Council had to issue a press release assuring the town’s inhabitants that the bridge wasn’t actually being moved. One couple reportedly travelled from Portsmouth for one last look at the bridge.

The team were reunited between series three and four for a Comic Relief sketch written by Clement and La Frenais which guest starred U2’s Bono and Larry.

Sourced from The Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Story written by Franc Roddam and Daniel Waddell.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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