1 9 8 4 – 1 9 9 2 (UK)
55 x 30 minute episodes
26 x 25 minute episodes
3 x 45 minute episodes
1 x 35 minute episode
“Listen very carefully, I shall say zees only once”
“Good Moaning” – The time is 1940, the place a cafe in the small town of Nouvion in occupied Northern France.
While the manager, René Artois (pictured at right), waits on German officers and his wife Madame Edith entertains the customers with a selection of songs. Unfortunately her voice is so bad that the customers plug their ears with cheese.
Meanwhile there is a girl from the Resistance waiting outside, two British airmen hiding in a cupboard in grandmother’s bedroom and a transmitter hidden under the bed. René consoles himself with regular dalliances with the shapely waitresses, Yvette and Maria (later replaced by Mimi).
Unfortunately, there’s a small matter of a war to contend with and the Resistance want him to help repatriate the escaped British airmen, while René wants to avoid being shot by the local Nazi’s, headed by Colonel Von Strohm, the clumsy Captain Geering and the gay Lieutenant Gruber.
Cruel local Gestapo chief Herr Flick has a passion for ice queen Helga, who wears a corset and suspenders under her SS uniform.
Early on in the series, to escape the wrath of the SS, René fakes his own death and continues through the remainder of the episodes as his own fictitious twin brother. This deception prompts aged lothario Monsieur Alfonse into pursuing René’s “widow” with a view to marriage.
This prospect had its attractions because it would allow René to plight his troth to Yvette, but the drawbacks – losing the cafe and his savings – prove overwhelming and so he thwarts the courtship.
Running gags included ; The priceless stolen painting – “The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies” by Van Clomp; The earnest repetition of instructions by the raincoat and beret-sporting resistance mega-babe, Michelle; The outrageous French accent of Secret Serviceman Crabtree (which he seriously believes makes him inconspicuous in the small French town); The elaborate and ridiculous escape plots of gormless British airman, Fairfax and Carstairs; and the eternal stupidity of the Germans who fail to smell a rat, and the implausibility of fat, balding René as an object of ceaseless desire.
‘Allo ‘Allo was truly a complete pantomime full of double-entendres in fine Carry On style. Rich in innuendo and slapstick, this long-running sitcom by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft began as a spoof version of the BBC drama series, Secret Army, which was broadcast from 1977 to 1979.
The show was often criticised for its bad taste although it always claimed to be poking fun at over-the-top wartime dramas and not at the cruelty of war itself.
When the series ended after nine years, the war was over and Nouvion had been liberated.
Viewers were treated to a ”flash-forward” to the present day and introduced to René’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 massively successful West End stage version with original cast members was also produced from 1986, which went on to tour internationally.
In January 1990, Kaye’s enormous popularity was demonstrated by public response following a horrific car accident that left the star with serious head injuries.
The accident occurred just days after newspaper allegations of Kaye’s homosexuality, but fears for his reputation proved groundless with thousands of cards and messages being sent to his hospital by well-wishers.
Kaye made a remarkably quick recovery, and 24 weeks after the accident he was back on stage and back in the role on TV too.
The odd spelling of Gorden Kaye’s first name owed to an Equity typing error, but the actor himself always joked that it was the sign of a “misspelt youth”.
Herr Otto Flick
Richard Gibson (1)
David Janson (2)
Colonel Von Strohm
Captain Hans Geering
General Von Kilnkerhoffen
Flying Officer Fairfax
John D Collins
Flying Officer Carstairs
John Louis Mansi
Jack Haig (1)
Derek Royle (2)
Robin Parkinson (3)
Gavin Richards (1)
Roger Kitter (2)
Mimi le Bonque