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.
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.
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.
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.
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