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|Index||25 reviews in total|
Very few things capture a time and spirit as eloquently as this TV series. Germany is the setting for a band of 'brothers' fleeing the mass unemployment and uncertainty of Thatcher's Britain in search of work, money and hope. This TV series contains natural acting, pathos, humour and a gritty realism that manages to combine drama and comedy without an emphasis on sentimentality or bawdy laughs. The series chronicles the debacles of a motley crew of British workers uncertain about Germany, their lives and their futures. Promised a hostel with swimming pool, they end up in a barren hut with no amenities yet friendships are forged and a social life centered on Beck's Beer and brothels ensues. With a memorable soundtrack and performances from relatively unknown actors that inspire, their pursuits become a part of the viewers' lives in a way that very few modern TV series capture. Oz, Dennis, Moxey, Bomber, Barry, Neville and Wayne become personal friends of the viewing public along the way in this story of the working man, ordinary lives and extraordinary situations that although filmed over twenty years ago remain timeless.
I remember watching the first series of this as a 12 year old boy with
my parents and loving every minute of it. 20 years later I own all four
series on DVD and still enjoy them as much as I did the first time
round. Lets be honest, how many programmes can we honestly say that
The first series was pure genius. Relatively unknown actors proving you don't need big names to make some of the most watchable, amusing and heartwarming television around. Since then of course many of the actors have gone on to be household names.
The second series was also great, probably as good as it could ever have hoped to be. The third and fourth series in my opinion aren't as good and I feel have suffered by moving to the BBC. They seem too clean cut and professional, something the lads were never intended to be. However, I still find them very watchable, but that is mainly down to the characters created in the early 1980's.
I doubt there'll be any more episodes now that bomber (the wonderfully understated Pat Roach) is no longer with us. To me this is the end of a TV era.
It had been about time that I watched this series, when I began last
this April the viewing was concluded, as I reached the sixth and last
episode of the recent third series.
To start at the beginning, I loved the first series; it is usually this one that gets the acclaim and from which most popular memories of the series are drawn. The escapades - grounded in some sort of realism, but larger than life - of the seven jobbing bricklayers, on a building site in Dusseldorf, living in a cramped 'hut', have entered the parlance of modern day folk legend. The brilliance of the series is in portraying working-class life in all its complexity; there is an innate sympathy for the characters, whatever their foibles. While Oz is an ignorant loudmouth for a lot of the first series, this is played for winning comedy and it really seems to work when he is softened and something of a reformed character - at heart he is good. There is always comedy, and indeed some quite heartfelt drama, in the relations between these geographically and temperamentally disparate seven characters. Though the basis is firmly in the north east, with Dennis taking on the mantle of leader, Jimmy Nail's immortal Oz being the most well-known character, and indeed three of the seven being from north-east England, the other four play a crucial role in broadening the group. Gary Holton's Wayne is a brash cockney, very much the 'laddish' sort in its original and most justifiable, loveable rogue form. Pat Roach's Bomber is a genial, well-spoken West Country man, older than the others and physically imposing - indeed having behind him some experience of wrestling! Christopher Fairbank's 'Moxey' is perhaps the least prominent of the seven in many ways; as he joins the group slightly later; a weaselly little Liverpudlian who means well but always gets into scrapes, such as serial arson! And, probably the other main comedic focus from Oz, is Timothy Spall's wonderful portrayal of Barry Taylor, a 'radish' from Wolverhampton, with the most amusing west midlands accent. His absurd pedantry and straight-laced nature, along with his pretensions at being more 'cultured' and intellectual than the rest of them are a great source of comedy. He is always the coward, and the source of much jovial ridicule; a crucial epicenter of the group, who really seems to relish their adventures - at least when looking back on them, as in the opening to Series 2.
Kevin Whately is excellent as Neville Hope, the member of the group less bothered about the camaraderie and drinking, as he misses his beloved wife, Brenda. Tim Healy rounds off the group as Dennis Patterson, perhaps the most grounded of the group, who reluctantly assumes the mantle of "gaffer". I really like how the first series combines elements of verbal and physical humour - such as when Michael Elphick's absurdly villainous MacGowan appears - with deeper themes. Thatcher's Britain is of course rightfully exposed, by the very nature of these people having to go overseas for work. Their forging of a team spirit is a counter to the rampant individualism and greed of the 1980s. Also, the low-rent nature of the England that is occasionally shown really strikes you - even more so than today, the north east of England is a very deprived area. You have some brilliant dramatic and comic focus on relationships - Dagmar and Dennis is just the sweetest romance - and friendship. Also, you have the 'Englishman abroad' comedic potential exploited and subverted; this is a maturely written series that treats the Germans with respect and proves Oz wrong. The episode where Neville proves the hero by finding the unexploded bomb is wonderful, where he has tea with a German family. More overtly comical, and possibly the flat-out funniest episode of the first series is where Barry and Wayne are at the hotel, in a misadventure pursuing some Swedish women.
Many have said that the first series marked the show's peak, and it was downhill from there on. I would refute this. Series 2 in my opinion is close to as good, and in many ways even better; it is only perhaps spoiled by a weak, if not bad, final episode. There is a far stronger, serial-narrative thrust to Series 2, with the ongoing plot a real boon. This is made so by the wonderful acting of Bill Paterson as the charmingly witty and despicable Ally Fraser, a gangland boss. Generally, you have the sense of a grand scheme in operation and various adventures and settings. The diversity is a good thing; we take in Wolverhampton in the first episode or two - with Barry a deceptively upwardly mobile figure! And Newcastle, Derbyshire and Spain at various points. The Newcastle episodes, towards the middle, bridge the gap between Derbyshire and Spain beautifully; Oz's character is again deepened, Dennis has some compelling problems and there is wonderful amusement as a petrified Barry experiences Gateshead. "Muggers! Rapists!"
The Derbyshire sequence of episodes is possibly amongst the whole series' most winning; a real autumnal feel is evoked, with much location work and a new setting for the group: the adversity of a cold, empty country house. The disputes with the local pub's landlord, a sour military type brilliantly played by Bryan Pringle, make for superb culture-clash comedy, as do others where the boys are at large in this more genteel area of the country. The escapades such as Oz and Barry's fishing, Barry's hilariously absurd desire to go for "an evening brass rubbing!" in the local church rather than to the pub, are marvelous indeed. Particularly sublime is the episode where the group have to fight off (in a comical exchange) Fraser's bully-boy tactics. Barry's inept kick at one of the hapless, defeated cohorts of Fraser, is absurd and so Barry! All of these episodes are wonderful really, and this is effectively carried through the Newcastle ones and then to Spain.
Unlike many people, I didn't feel the absence of Gary Holton really affected things that much; it was reasonably effectually explained. Much of the Spain stuff is vintage AWP; Fraser comes increasingly to the fore as a genuinely great comic character, Timothy Spall is at his very best, and there's a very nice, languid mood about the whole visit. As I say, only the last episode disappoints a bit; with the conclusion seeming a bit like short change after the preceding 12 episodes or so and their excellent build up. The second series develops all of the characters really well (including Wayne, though of course sadly Holton died during production and is a lesser presence in later episodes), and you feel like you know them as friends almost. The first two series are brilliant television; culturally insightful, with better drama than many dramas and so much richly humorous entertainment.
Now, series 3 came along as many as sixteen years later, and had a very difficult task to in any way measure up to the originals. I was delighted to find that as a series it was frankly as good as could have been expected. Of course, it's not really quite as good as the 1980s series', for a few reasons, but it gives it a very good shot, all told. You occasionally feel things are too different in tone and presentation, but surprisingly seldom really; it is a near miracle that it managed to be as true to the spirit of the original as possible. A few obvious 'differences' are the change of title music - a bland Mark Knopfler song, that grows on one a bit, but is nowhere near the memorable 'rightness' of series 1 and 2's fine opening and closing tunes - such as "Back with the Boys Again" and Series 1's poignant opening titles number. Perhaps more importantly, it is shot on film and appears far more lavish visually, in general; this reflects the changes in British television drama in general since 1986. I don't personally feel this suits the particular feel of the programme, though it's passable when all is said and done; indeed, I recall that Series 2 was that bit more upmarket in the way it was filmed than the first series. In terms of plot, a few things seem very contrived, but generally it is all good enough on that front. The whole Native American plot strand works reasonably well, though it's not quite the set-up of Derbyshire or Dusseldorf. Throughout the series, the lead actors give exemplary performances; which largely makes it all work, along with solid, if possibly less exceptional scripts than earlier series', from La Frenais and Clement. Spall - by now a much more experienced actor - slots right back into the great role of Barry, and it's really quite moving how he develops from out of his initial smug complacency, rich and married to a beautiful Russian dame. Of course, the delectable Tatyana proves to be on the make, and cheating Barry, so he becomes more of a vulnerable character again; when in America, that is all very well dealt with. There's possibly less emphasis on Dennis in this series, and certainly less on Bomber, who nevertheless gets a few good scenes and is quite moving in how he's aged, yet appears to be back to fitness at the end. A slightly different side to Neville - hinted at in the second series - is shown, with his marriage faltering a little; this strand is very satisfactorily concluded. Moxey strangely has lost his stutter, but is as ever an amusing, if minor player. Jimmy Nail is largely very good as Oz, though at times I feel the character is too overly central in proceedings compared to the others. Wyman, the son of Wayne, proves a little unnecessary, just there really to make up the seven; although he's likeable enough, he doesn't really have all that much to do.
The major plus of Series 3 turns out to be the absolutely brilliant comic turn that is Bill Nighy's Geoffrey Grainger; a 'reformed' Jonathan Aitken-type Tory politician, who has been in jail, where Oz helped him out. Nighy is wonderfully astute and precise in his facial and verbal expressions; it really is a sparkling turn that really grows on you; by the latter episodes, he's almost the star of the show. When he comes out to Arizona, it's a sublime sequence of comedy, as this political trickster is finally out-manoeuvred by the boys. Generally, I felt the last three or so episodes saw this new BBC series really hitting its stride; once again, a foreign setting paid off and was interestingly explored. The camaraderie almost fully returned. I was enjoying it increasingly as it went along; bluntly put, what a shame that it could only be a 6 episode series! It seemed as if it was slipping back into the epic gear; and 13 episodes or so always seems the right length for these wonderful characters... so, overall, Series 3 was a success.
I hope I have to some extent encapsulated the appeal of this excellent comedy-drama. "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" is one of television's finest ongoing epic narratives, and one of comparatively few programmes to truly deserve to be billed as equally comedic and dramatic: each of these work beautifully in tandem. It is a genial programme with real depth and grounding in vivid, naturalistic settings, contains detailed, likeable central characters and amusing, always well-judged plots and themes. It is rare in that it seldom takes the easy route, and is yet very popular with a wide audience.
Get It Right - this must be the best TV Comedy-Drama of all-time! From
the origins of it's classic first series in 1983 and it's equally
enjoyable and 'troublesome' second series through to the welcoming
third and fourth series after a 16-year gap, and the final special in
2004 - it's all such glorious stuff from a cast and crew of brilliant
writers, directors and actors.
The characterisations are superbly crafted and it's very hard not to love these guys who at one point represented the turmoil of Maggie Thatcher's working-class Britain. There are many wonderful episodes to be viewed throughout the series that not only will have you rolling off the couch, but also reaching for the odd hankie or two.
A much-deserved Award-winner!
One of the classic series of the 1980s, 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet' works
well as an ensemble piece, with every character complementing the other
- Dennis, the sensible one (Tim Healy), Neville, the nervous one (Kevin
Whatley), Barry, the dumb one (Timothy Spall), Oz, the crazy one (Jimmy
Nail), Bomber, the tough one (Pat Roach), Wayne, the horny one (Gary
Holton), and Moxey, the boring one (Christopher Fairbank). They're
brickies on a building site in Dusseldorf, and the interest comes in
watching them survive being thrown together.
Two series appeared in the early eighties, with the series being curtailed by Holton's untimely death during recording of series 2. Almost every episode was a winner - laughs, pathos, camaderie, and a real sense of liking of the characters involved. Well written, with a pair of great theme tunes (sung by Joe Fagin), and a good cast of supporting actors (Michael Elphick turns up now and then, Ray Winstone plays an army man AWOL), this drama really couldn't miss.
And the final couple of series reunited all the characters (bar Wayne - we saw his son Wyman, instead) for more laughs and an ultimately touching finale. Highly recommended and, surprisingly, not dated at all.
I'm writing this 5 episodes into the first BBC screening of the new (third) series. After a 15 year break, I was sceptical that the old magic of this classic series would no longer be there. My fears were unfounded. This is British TV at its very best. The writing is as superb as it ever was back in the 80s. The six surviving main characters, the new seventh `lead' (replacing the late Gary Holton's character, as his son) and all the supporting characters are just excellent. Ten out of ten, no question. I'm taping the entire series and once it finishes I'm going to have a night in with a six-pack and watch the whole lot right the way through again from start to finish. Let's hope that the rumoured fourth series also comes to fruition.
Auf Wiedersehen Pet is a story of the rise and fall of seven very different people. There are three Geordies, one Scouser, one Brummie, one Cockney and one from Bristol. Auf Wiedersehen Pet shows what life was really like for self - employed workers in the 1980's. The first series is set in Dusseldorf in Germany and it shows how the lads struggle along living in a wooden hut on a building site. The three Geordies are Oz, Neville and Dennis. Oz is the funniest of all, he is a bricklayer and loves to get drunk and have fights. Dennis is seen as the leader and has to sort out all the trouble caused, mainly by Oz. Neville hates being away from his wife and acts a good part as a home sick gadgie. From Bristol there is Bomber who likes a fight but is also a leadership figure. Wayne is a Cockney who spends all his free time chasing after women and looking in the mirror. Moxey is the Scouser who has bad acne and a tendency to start fires. Barry is the Brummie and was thought of as the boring one. Throughout the series the lads get up to a lot of mischief and have a few run ins with the police and punch ups in bars. ( along with a large intake of beer and Vindaloo's). All this results in the best British comedy of all time.
Auf Wiedersehen is an example of everything falling into place. It is a interesting story, has endearing characters and a script that doesn't seem like a script - just the characters saying what you'd expect them to say. All of the characters have their place within the well-balanced team. Most people's favourites are the big-mouthed Oz or the boring Barry, but each member of the group is vital to the whole. Series one sees the group first get together in Germany and forge a strong bond under difficult circumstances. There are then a number of adventures they go through - always with an underlying sense of humour. Series two sees the boys reunite and find work firstly in England and then in Spain. The program begins to fall away when they go to Spain to work, and eventually degenerates into a silly bit of farce. But not to concentrate on the bad bits.... Two series seems to be the limit of any good comedy. However, I'm looking forward to the new series they are making - a reunion nearly 20 years on will be like catching up with old friends.
This programme is without doubt the greatest comedy-drama Britian has ever produced in my eyes. There isn't 1 single episode that wont make you laugh and every character is played to perfection with there own style of comedy that you will find it hard not to associate with at least one character. Special mention has to go to Jimmy Nail (Oz) and Timothy Spall (Barry) who are both a constent source of enjoyment to watch. The basics of the whole series is, there all working men in a team travelling around the world looking for work. With episodes about them trying to pull women and getting tattoos when there drunk, to being involved with the police and getting in trouble with gangsters, I can honestly say I can not pick a favourite series because each one is outstanding in its own way. If you haven't seen these before, then your missing out and need to rent the 1st series asap. My thought is you wont be disappointed.
I have enjoyed watching these episodes may times. Well written and
brilliantly acted was the blurb on the DVD boxes, and the reviewers are
right. The cast are second to none, you believe they are tradesmen
working for a living. The supporting characters also have great
strength, in particular, Herr Grunwald, Ally Fraser, Brenda, Dagmar,
Norma, Joe, etc, etc, etc.
To pick a favourite episode is difficult, especially as even the "weaker" ones are far superior to anything you will see on TV today. But if I had to, I would say my favourite is Suspicion. The sheer delight of Oz going on one over his stolen watch, Neville falling in lust, Wayne not pulling, Moxey fronting up to Oz, Barry absolutely drunk, Dennis poking fun out of Oz because Oz thinks the lads are threadbare and Bomber, well just for being Bomber. Favourite quote from the episode "The sum total of all our possessions wouldn't raise a f*rt at a bring-and-buy sale!"
The first series was set in Dusseldorf, and followed their lives over (supposedly) 6 months. There was a common story theme but each individual episode was stand alone. Series two changed, as it followed their fortunes working for a Newcastle based villain, doing up his Manor in Derbyshire and then building him a swimming pool in Malaga. The third series finds the lads demolishing a famous bridge in Middlesborough, and rebuilding it in Arizona, and finally, the fourth sees them working for the Foreign Office in Cuba.
I had mixed feelings about the revival of the format for series 3 & 4, as sometimes it is better to be wanting more, than actually to have it. But I was pleasantly surprised with the end results, although, not sure how Barry could've changed so much from Methodist prude, to drug taking womaniser.
Still the best thing to have graced the TV screen. Cold & Rainy winter evenings are not so bad, when you surf SKY and see AWP on one of the channels.
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