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Allo Allo (BBC Sitcom, Gorden Kaye, Vicki Michelle)



In BBC Sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo Rene Artois (Gorden Kaye) was the proprietor of a cafe in the northern French town of Nouvion. He ran the bar with his wife, Edith (Carmen Silvera), and a couple of shapely waitresses, Yvette (Vicki Michelle) and Maria. At least, that was until the Germans occupied the town. He then found himself having to pander to the local Nazis, headed by Colonel Von Strohm (Richard Marner, the clumsy Captain Geering (Sam Kelly) and the effete Lt. Gruber (Guy Siner).

At the same time, his bar was taken over as a French Resistance safehouse, primarily to house two gormless British airmen, Fairfax and Carstairs (Adamson in the pilot episode). In this way, this man’s war became rather more trying than others’.

Introducing each episode by speaking to camera, Rene updated viewers on earlier happenings (the show was run as a kind of serial farce). Usually, the highly exaggerated plots centred on Rene’s reluctant attempts to help the airmen escape, or to sabotage the Germans’ efforts to steal a priceless painting, the so-called Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies by Van Clomp.

Instigator of most of the action was the local Resistance leader, Michelle (Kirsten Cooke), comandeerer of Rene’s bar and supplier of the show’s prime catchphrase, ‘Leesten very carefully. I shall say this only wance.’ She was aided by Officer Crabtree (Arthur Bostram), an inept British agent disguised as a gendarme, spouting appalling French which translated into warped English phrases like ‘Good moaning’.


Indeed, the use of stereotypical accents to convey different languages was one of ‘Allo ‘Allo’s success stories. Also influencing affairs was the cruel Herr Flick (Richard Gibson), the limping local Gestapo chief who demanded kinky affection from his adjutant, Helga (Kim Hartman), and abused his incompetent sidekick, Von Smallhausen (John Louis Mansi). Around the central action there were plenty of sub-plots: Rene’s steamy affairs with both Yvette and Maria (later replaced by Mimi), the marriage of Edith’s bed-ridden mother, Fanny, to ageing Resistance forger Leclerc (Jack Haig), and Rene’s alleged death, which allowed Edith to court Monsieur Alphonse (Kenneth Connor), the local undertaker with a ‘dicky ticker’ and a ‘small ‘earse with a small ‘orse’.

But the programme also had some well-rehearsed running jokes: Edith’s excruciating singing, for instance, which forced the bar’s customers to stuff their ears with cheese, Lt. Gruber’s advances to Rene, and Rene’s (codename Nighthawk) laboured attempts to get the wireless to work from its secret hiding place beneath Fanny’s chamber pot (the series took its name from his opening words to London).

Rich in innuendo and slapstick, ‘Allo ‘Allo was much criticized for its ‘bad taste’, though it always claimed to be poking fun at over-the-top wartime dramas and not at the cruelty of war itself. Secret Army was its main target. When it ended, after nearly nine years, the war had finished and Nouvion was liberated. Viewers were treated to a ‘flashforward’ to the present day and introduced to Rene’s son (again played by Gorden Kaye), who explained what had happened to the locals in the post-war years to a visiting Gruber, who had, surprisingly, married Helga. A West End stage version, with original cast members, was also produced.

Cast: GORDEN KAYE as Rene Artois; CARMEN SILVERA as Edith Artois; VICKI MICHELLE as Yvette; KIRSTEN COOKE as Michelle; RICHARD MARNER as Colonel Von Strohm; SAM KELLY as Capt Hans Geering; GUY SINER as Lt Gruber; KIM HARTMAN as Helga Geerhart; RICHARD GIBSON as Herr Flick; DAVID JANSON as Flick; ARTHUR BOSTRAM as Officer Crabtree; ROSE HILL as Fanny; NICHOLAS FRANKAU as Carstairs; HILARY MINSTER as Gen Von Klinkerhoffen; KENNETH CONNOR as Alfonse; JACK HAIG as Leclerc; DEREK ROYLE as Leclerc; ROBIN PARKINSON as Leclerc; JOHN LOUIS MANSI as Von Smallhausen; GAVIN RICHARDS as Bertorelli; ROGER KITTER as Bertorelli


Creators: Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft / Musical Associate: Ray Moore / Producers: David Croft, John B.Hobbs

UK / BBC One/ 81×30 minute episodes 3×45 minute episodes / Broadcast 7 Sep 1984 – 14 December 1992 Nine seasons

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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