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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Auf Wiedersehen Pet is a popular British comedy-drama series created by Franc Roddam, largely written by Dick Clement[?] and Ian La Frenais[?], and starring Christopher Fairbank[?] as "Moxey", Tim Healy as Dennis Patterson, Gary Holton[?] as Wayne Norris, Jimmy Nail[?] as "Oz" Osbourne, Pat Roach[?] as "Bomber" Busbridge, Timothy Spall[?] as Barry Taylor and Kevin Whately as Neville Hope.

The first series, produced by Central for ITV in 1983 is the story of seven out-of work builders from various parts of England who are forced to look for work in West Germany. (The title refers to their farewells to their wives and girlfriends - "Auf Wiedersehen" being German for "Farewell", and "Pet" being a northern English term of endearment.) They find work on a German building site but are forced to live in a small hut that reminds them of a POW camp. The rest of the series is driven by the interactions and growing friendships between the various characters: for instance, Barry is an obsessive bore, Neville is an insecure young newleywed, Oz is aggressive and jingoistic, and Wayne is a womaniser. Dennis, being older, more experienced and generally more mature than the others, becomes the de facto leader of the group. Over the course of 13 episodes the "Magnificent Seven" enjoy lots of comic and romantic adventures, until a change in German tax laws forces them to return home.

The series was an immediate success, due to the first-rate scripts and the genuine chemistry between the actors.

A second series of 13 episodes followed in 1986, in which the boys are reunited to help renovate a country manor house by a crooked businessman but end up falling foul of the suspicious locals. When things become a little too hot for their new boss he flees to Spain and invites them to redecorate his Spanish villa. Once in Spain the gang are soon mistaken for criminals themselves, and the series ends with them fleeing the Spanish police in a motor yacht, together with Barry's fiancée who had only expected a wedding at sea.

The second series was less successful because the characters were no longer under the same kind of pressure they had been in in Germany. Even in Spain they were more likely to encounter expatriate Brits than foreigners who could bring out their patriotic tendencies. The series was also clouded by Gary Holton's death from a drug overdose, which meant that many of Wayne's scenes had to be omitted or shot using a double. The final episode begins with a brief tribute to Holton.

In 2002 the show was revived, this time as a 6-part series made by Ziji Productions for BBC ONE. All of the surviving cast returned, and were joined by Noel Clarke as Wayne's son Wyman. The storyline revolves around a plan by a corrupt businessman to demolish the Middlesbrough[?] Transporter Bridge (a real-life industrial landmark) and sell it for reconstruction elsewhere. Persuading Oz to get the old gang back together, he then plans to cheat them out of their share of the profits, until a Native American from Arizona turns up to announce that he'd like to buy the bridge for the benefit of his tribe's casino.

Despite scepticism that the chemistry would still work after so many years the show was a huge hit. The script and acting work just as well as they did in the first series, and the chemistry is still there. The story moves so swiftly that the viewer has no time to consider the many implausibilities of the convoluted plot, but just enjoys the ride. The special effects depicting the demolition of the bridge are so realistic that many people believed it was really being demolished, forcing the BBC to add a caption to the last episode reassuring them that it was still there.

Some of the cast made an appearance on Comic Relief's Red Nose Day 2003, in which they find a suitcase full of money in a Miami hotel room and assume it belongs to a drug dealer who wants to shoot them - but actually it belongs to U2, who invite them to their penthouse.

A fourth series seems likely despite reports that Timothy Spall was holding out for more pay.



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