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'Allo 'Allo! intertitle of "Puddings Can Go Off"
David Croft (1982–1989)
Paul Adam (1991–1992)
John B. Hobbs
John Louis Mansi
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||9|
|No. of episodes||85 (list of episodes)|
John B. Hobbs
|Original release||30 December 1982– 14 December 1992|
'Allo 'Allo! is a BBC television British sitcom that was first broadcast on BBC One from 1982 to 1992, comprising 85 episodes. The story is set in a small-town café in German-occupied France during the Second World War. It is a parody of another BBC programme, the wartime drama Secret Army. 'Allo, 'Allo! was created by David Croft, who also wrote the theme music, and Jeremy Lloyd. Lloyd and Croft wrote the first six series. The remaining series were written by Lloyd and Paul Adam.
- 1 Main plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Episodes
- 4 End credits
- 5 Cultural references
- 6 Music
- 7 Stage show
- 8 Locations
- 9 Alleged abandoned remake
- 10 DVD releases
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Set during the Second World War, 'Allo 'Allo! tells the fictitious story of René Artois, a café owner in the town of Nouvion, France. Military from the Axis powers have occupied the town and stolen all of its valuable artefacts. These include a painting of The Fallen Madonna by fictional artist van Klomp (usually referred to as The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies). Two officers, Colonel Kurt von Strohm and Captain Hans Geering, have decided to keep the paintings for themselves after the war, and they coerce René into hiding the paintings in his café. Hitler also wants the paintings, and sends Herr Flick of the Gestapo to the town to find them. Flick, in turn, conspires to keep them. The paintings are duplicated by a forger, get mixed up, lost, found and are put in knackwurst sausages, and hidden in the cellar of Café René.
At the same time, the café is being used as a safe house for two brave but clueless British airmen, Fairfax and Carstairs. René is forced to work with the French Resistance, led by the fearsome Michelle Dubois. The far-fetched plans of the Resistance to get the airmen back to Britain repeatedly fail. These are some of the main running gags of the series.
As part of these plans, the Resistance have placed a radio in the bedroom of René's mother-in-law, Madame Fanny La Fan, as this is the only room nobody enters unless they have to. This secret device for communication between London and the Resistance (codename "Nighthawk") is hidden under the bed, and incoming messages are signaled by light bulbs concealed in the bed-knobs – leading the mother-in-law to cry "Ze flashing knobs!". René answers with "'Allo, 'allo, zis is Night'awk, are you receiving me?", hence the title of the show ("allô" is the normal French way of greeting someone over a remote communication system).
The Resistance is also "helped" by Officer Crabtree, a British spy posing as a French policeman, sent to France because he can speak French. However, he does not speak it very well, especially the vowels, resulting in frequent malapropisms. For example, whenever he says "Good morning", it comes out as "Good moaning".
René is also trying to keep his affairs with his waitresses secret from his wife, Edith, who regularly sings in the café. But she is such an appallingly bad singer (which she does not realise herself) that visitors to her café often put cheese in their ears to block the sound. In addition, the communist resistance is plotting against René for serving Germans and for working with the Gaullist Resistance. However, the communist resistance only blow things up for money. The only reason they do not shoot René is that their leader, Denise Laroque, is in love with him, a fact he has to hide from both his wife and the waitresses, Yvette Carte-Blanche, Maria Recamier and Mimi Labonq. Furthermore, the seemingly gay German Lieutenant Gruber is also continually flirting with René and finding him in embarrassing situations. These situations are more humorous because René is not stereotypically attractive, is not considered a hero, and is often forced (against his will) by his wife to undertake missions and secret operations. Once, Edith memorably points a gun at René to stop him running away to hide with his cousin; when interrupted by the five German officers, he explains that his wife had been proposing to him.
In one early episode, René is arrested for blowing up a railway line and shot by a German firing squad on the orders of General Erich von Klinkerhoffen, a ruthless general from Berlin, but the German officers put dummy bullets in the firing squad's rifles. Although René survives, he has to spend the entire series posing as his own twin brother, who is also called René. René's will bequeaths the café to Edith; so to get Café René back – or put "his fingers back in his own till", as he puts it – René tries to convince Edith to marry him again. Meanwhile, Edith is wooed by the Italian Captain Bertorelli and by Monsieur Alfonse, the undertaker who is torn between his love for Edith and his admiration for René, whom he considers a true hero of France.
These few plot devices provide the basic storyline throughout the entire series, upon which are hung classic farce set-ups, physical comedy and visual gags, ridiculous fake accents, a large amount of sexual innuendo, and a fast-paced running string of broad cultural clichés. Each episode builds on previous ones, requiring viewers to follow the series to understand the plot fully. The series revolved around individual story arcs spread across several episodes, where typically a far-fetched scheme by the Resistance to repatriate the British airmen would become intertwined with the Gestapo's attempts to recover the missing paintings and the German officers' corrupt activities, which would culminate with the three groups' plans frustrating one another and leaving them in an even worse situation than before. At the start of each subsequent episode, René summarises the plot to date for the audience (breaking the 4th wall); a gag based on the "As you remember ..." device commonly used in serials. In reruns, some local TV stations have shuffled the episodes, making these plot synopses useful.
The late Lord Bath was a big fan of 'Allo 'Allo!, and in 1992 created an exhibition in his ancestral home Longleat. In return the BBC made a copy of the painting of the Fallen Madonna, which may still be seen today.
- A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in that Series.
- (a) indicates that the character returned in a one episode cameo.
- The table shows only characters written in with new scenes, not appearances in archive footage.
|Character||Character Nationality||Pilot and Series 1
(1982 and 1984)
|Series 2 and Christmas Special 1
|Christmas special 2 and Series 8
(1991 and 1992)
|The Best of 'Allo 'Allo!
|The Return of 'Allo 'Allo!|
|Rene Artois||Gorden Kaye|
|Edith Melba Artois||Carmen Silvera|
|Yvette Carte-Blanche||Vicki Michelle||Vicki Michelle|
|Maria Recamier||Francesca Gonshaw|
|Mimi Labonq||Sue Hodge||Sue Hodge|
|Michelle "of the Résistance" Dubois||Kirsten Cooke||Kirsten Cooke|
|Monsieur Roger LeClerc||Jack Haig|
|Monsieur Ernest LeClerc||Derek Royle||Robin Parkinson||Robin Parkinson|
|Monsieur Alfonse||Kenneth Connor|
|Madame Fanny La Fan||Rose Hill|
|Major-General Erich von Klinkerhoffen||Hilary Minster|
|Colonel Kurt von Strohm||Richard Marner|
|Lieutenant Hubert Gruber||Guy Siner||Guy Siner|
|Captain Hans Geering||Sam Kelly||(a)Sam Kelly|
|Herr Otto Flick||Richard Gibson||David Janson|
|Herr Engelbert von Smallhausen||John Louis Mansi|
|Private Helga Geerhart||Kim Hartman|
|Captain Alberto Bertorelli||Gavin Richards||Roger Kitter|
|Officer (Captain) Crabtree||Arthur Bostrom||Arthur Bostrom|
|RAF Flight Lieutenant Fairfax||John D. Collins||(a)John D. Collins||John D. Collins|
|RAF Flight Lieutenant Carstairs||Nicholas Frankau||(a)Nicholas Frankau||Nicholas Frankau|
It could have been tricky to represent to the audience the (perhaps) four different languages (French, German, Italian and English) spoken by the characters. The programme uses the device of representing each language with English spoken in a theatrical foreign accent.
For example, an exchange between French-speaking characters, conducted in English with a French accent, is totally incomprehensible to the British airmen until Michelle (the only French character who speaks English) switches to Bertie Wooster-esque "top hole, old chap" style banter in an upper-class English accent. The British undercover officer Crabtree, in the permanent disguise of a French-speaking gendarme, speaks abominable French. His (presumed) mangling of French vowels is represented by similarly distorted English, most famously his customary greeting catchphrase of "Good moaning"; many of his distortions come out as innuendoes, such as "I was pissing by the door, and I thought I would drip in". The Germans, generally, speak in a more guttural way than the French. Bertorelli, the Italian captain, speaks in a nasal tone, generally adding an "-a" at the end of certain words: for instance in his catchphrase, "What a mistake-a to make-a!". Other examples included "We drop-a the bolls", "I kiss-a your hand-a". In spite of the difficulties in communicating with the British characters, the French, Germans, and Italians all understand each other perfectly, the implication apparently being that they all understand French (and Bertorelli understands German spoken when no French are present) which they use when talking to one another, but in which their own accents remain evident.
When one particular plan calls for Herr Flick and von Smallhausen to impersonate British airmen, a gramophone record is used to learn the 'nuances' of English. This essentially consists of the non-word sounds suitably voiced with the signature 'upper-class English accent' employed in the programme.
In one episode, René is actually forced to speak German. His voice is noticeably more high-pitched, which may be a gag concerning the way the Germans talk.
The last few series introduced a new gag, where Colonel von Strohm and Lieutenant Gruber are put in situations where they have to speak in a strange manner. In one episode the two try to learn Spanish, which is basically "German" with high-pitched voices and mangled consonants. In another they are forced to wear "suicide teeth", large bulky dentures containing poison, making them garble their speech to avoid releasing the poison. In yet another, von Strohm and Gruber are posing as Frenchmen, and are forced to speak French. This comes out as another set of non-words sounding like "Woffel woffel, woffel woffel". A further episode features a Swedish art dealer inspecting The Fallen Madonna, who pronounces "Heil Hitler!" as "Oil Jesus!"
After the pilot aired in December 1982, a full-length first series of seven episodes was commissioned and aired from September 1984 onwards. Series two, three and four followed annually, with six episodes each.
Series five was commissioned with a view to syndicating the show in America. As a result, it aired as a single long series of twenty-six episodes between September 1988 and February 1989. The attempts to air the show in America failed (although the series later became popular on PBS), and so series six had only eight episodes commissioned, which aired from September 1989 onwards.
On 25 January 1990, Gorden Kaye suffered serious head injuries in a car crash brought on by gale-force winds. This delayed the start of the seventh series, which consisted of ten episodes airing from January 1991 onwards. Series 8 (7 episodes) followed in January 1992, and the ninth and final series of six episodes aired later that year from September onwards.
Two Christmas specials were also made. The first was a 45-minute episode, which followed Series 2 in 1985, and the second was also a 45-minute episode, screened at Christmas 1991, preceding Series 8.
In 1994, two years after the series ended, the BBC broadcast The Best of 'Allo 'Allo!, a compilation of clips from the series, linked by new scenes featuring Gorden Kaye and Carmen Silvera, in which René and Edith reminisce about the events of the war.
On 22 March 2007, a one-off special episode entitled The Return of 'Allo 'Allo! was filmed in Manchester, and was broadcast on 28 April 2007 at 9 pm on BBC 2. The storyline involves René writing his memoirs after the war, and the events from the final episode in 1992 have been overlooked. The new scenes were interspersed with clips from the original series and new interviews. The actors who reprised their roles were: Gorden Kaye, Vicki Michelle, Sue Hodge, Kirsten Cooke, Arthur Bostrom, Guy Siner, Robin Parkinson, John D. Collins and Nicholas Frankau. In addition, Richard Gibson and Sam Kelly are interviewed, although they are not reprising their respective roles. The only main characters who did not appear in the reunion at all (where the actor or actress who played the character originally was then alive) were Private Helga Geerhart (played by Kim Hartman) and Herr Engelbert von Smallhausen (played by John Louis Mansi). Jeremy Lloyd wrote the new material.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||1||30 December 1982|
|1||7||7 September 1984||26 October 1984|
|2||7||21 October 1985||26 December 1985|
|3||6||5 December 1986||9 January 1987|
|4||6||7 November 1987||12 December 1987|
|5||26||3 September 1988||25 February 1989|
|6||8||2 September 1989||21 October 1989|
|7||10||5 January 1991||16 March 1991|
|8||8||24 December 1991||1 March 1992|
|9||6||9 November 1992||14 December 1992|
At the end of each show, in common with Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Hi-de-Hi!, the end credits begin with the caption "You have been watching (in order of appearance)", followed by a short vignette shot of each of the main characters with the actor's name displayed below. The shots are not always actual clips from the episode but usually re-enactments of a specific shot or action for each character from that episode. Being an ensemble show, the actor credits are given in the order of their first spoken line for that particular episode. Because every episode begins with René recapping the plot to camera thus far, Gorden Kaye is always first (even if he is not the first seen on screen, such as the start of episode 26 "The Sausages in the Trousers" where Mimi and Edith are first seen, but René has the first line). Gorden Kaye was credited first in all but one of the episodes, where he was credited second behind Carmen Silvera.
On various occasions, particularly in later seasons, actors or actresses were credited out of order, or credited even when not appearing in the episode. Series 5 episode "The Big Flush" credits actors Kim Hartman, Richard Gibson, John Louis Mansi and Gavin Richards as having appeared, when they had not, and a series 7 episode credits Vicki Michelle as one of the last characters introduced, when she appeared in the first scene.
The show's premise was not to make fun of the war but to spoof war-based film and TV dramas, and in particular a BBC1 drama Secret Army, which ran from 1977 to 1979 and dealt with the activities of a Belgian "escape line" that returned allied pilots to Britain, working from a Brussels café and later restaurant. Many of the elements and characters are directly taken from Secret Army, such as the café owner having an affair in the restaurant under the nose of his wife, a bed-ridden woman in a room above who knocks on the floor for attention, a pianist who is also the forger, and the enmity between the Gestapo and the German military. Many storylines for 'Allo 'Allo also derive directly from episodes of Secret Army, such as the valuable paintings and the accompanying forgeries, which both the Germans and the Resistance are seeking to obtain in the Secret Army second series episode "Weekend". Some actors from Secret Army also appear in 'Allo 'Allo!: Richard Marner, Guy Siner, John D. Collins, Hilary Minster and David Beckett. Inspiration was also drawn from patriotic black-and-white British melodramas of the 1940s.
The French village setting is reminiscent of 1972's Clochemerle, whilst Rene's intermediary role between the Germans and the Resistance reflects a comic version of Rick from Casablanca (as well as directly matching the proprietor of the café in Secret Army).
Two of the BBC's earlier wartime-based comedies – Dad's Army and It Ain't Half Hot Mum – were also written by David Croft in partnership with Jimmy Perry. Several actors from 'Allo 'Allo! also appeared in these series: Carmen Silvera, Rose Hill, Jack Haig, Joy Allen, Michael Stainton, Robert Aldous, John Leeson, John D. Collins and Robin Parkinson in Dad's Army, and Robin Parkinson, Gorden Kaye, John D. Collins, Iain Rattray and Eric Dodson in It Ain't Half Hot Mum.
The Shelburne Escape and Evasion Line (Operation Bonaparte) of the Second World War (Comet Line) has some similarities to this series. More than 300 airmen and agents escaped through this line.
Having a café cabaret in the plot, music was often performed on the show. This usually took place with Madame Edith singing, and either Lt. Gruber or LeClerc at the piano. Occasionally, Gruber sang and played piano at the same time. Characters could also be seen whistling or humming tunes at certain points.
David Croft and Roy Moore composed the theme tune performed at the start and end of each episode. It features a French-style melody performed on an accordion. The title is London Calling, but according to Guy Siner the first lyrics are:
'Allo 'Allo, we meet again,
And just as before ...
Carmen Silvera sang the full song and it was released on LP in the 1980s.
The café cabaret music usually took the form of 1930s film and show tunes – reminiscent of the way period songs were also used in Secret Army.
Most popular was "Louise" from the film Innocents in Paris (1953), which featured a number of times and was even sung in the "broken-French" language of Crabtree, who pronounced the title "Loo-woes". Gruber sang a number such as "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from Show Boat or "(I Got a Woman Crazy for Me) She's Funny That Way" by Neil Monet and Richard A. Whiting. He gazed at René in a slightly lustful manner, replacing lyrics such as "woman" and "she" with "boy" and "he". He caused a particular sensation with his straight version of Noël Coward's "Mad About the Boy".
Naturally the "La Marseillaise" and the German National Anthem "Deutschlandlied" featured from time to time, for example where several French peasants sang La Marsellaise to celebrate the expected bombing of the Germans, but the singers flawlessly and without hesitation switch to Das Lied der Deutschen when the Germans come past. Helga also sometimes stripped to a rather raunchy version of the latter tune.
In 1986, Gorden Kaye and Vicki Michelle released a version of the hit song Je t'aime ... moi non plus. The characters of Yvette and René could be heard talking and canoodling in a comic manner whilst the familiar musical Je t′aime melody played in the background. The song got to number fifty-seven in the UK Singles Chart.
In 1985 Gordon Kaye and Carmen Silvera appeared on the Royal Variety Performance in character as Rene and Edith and sang I Remember It Well.
The show gave rise to a successful touring stage-show featuring most of the TV cast. This ran from 1986 to 1992 and included three London stage runs as well as international tours.
In January 1990 Gorden Kaye suffered serious head injuries in a car accident. As a result, his understudy, John Larson, played the part in a London Palladium production. Kaye had a dent in his forehead for the rest of his life from a piece of wood that smashed through the car window. He wanted to end the television show after his accident, but was convinced by Jeremy Lloyd to continue. In Australia Gorden Kaye's part was played by Australian comedian/impressionist Max Gillies (later, Gorden Kaye repaid the favour when he took over Max Gillies' role in another play in Australia, when Max Gillies was unable to take part).
The show was last performed for a summer season at Bournemouth's Pier Theatre in 1996.
In 2007 Gorden Kaye, Sue Hodge and Guy Siner reprised their roles in a production of the stage show in Brisbane, Australia. They were joined by Steven Tandy as Colonel von Strohm and Jason Gann as Herr Flick.
A new touring show, based on the 1992 tour written by David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, opened at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage, Hertfordshire on 29 August 2008 before going on a national tour in 2009. Vicki Michelle reprised her role as Yvette Carte-Blanche. The cast also included Jeffrey Holland playing Rene Artois and his wife Judy Buxton playing Michelle. Other cast members included Robin Sebastian as Gruber, James Rossman as Herr Flick, Nell Jerram as Private Helga Geerhart and Claire Andreadis as Mimi Labonq.
The theatrical version is also frequently performed by amateur theatre companies in the UK and elsewhere.
From 1982–1987 all interior scenes were filmed in front of a live studio audience at the BBC Television Centre studios in London. From 1988 production moved to BBC Elstree Centre in Studio D. With hopes for a US syndication deal the BBC planned to make 26 new episodes of the sitcom and so bigger space was needed for the production. Even though the US syndication deal did not go ahead as planned, production remained at BBC Elstree Centre for the remaining episodes of the show which ended in 1992. With more space to play with, the outside set of Café Rene became a semi-permanent structure in the former ATV Garage building.
Alleged abandoned remake
In early August 2016, The Sun newspaper announced, without naming a source, that BBC plans to remake the series had been scrapped due to the possibility of viewers complaining about Gestapo officer Herr Flick.
Australian and New Zealand releases
In Australia, Roadshow Entertainment, under licence from the BBC began releasing the series on DVD in 2006, on a semi-annual basis. To date, all series have been released on DVD with only The Return of 'Allo 'Allo! TV special remaining.
|DVD name||Release date||Comments|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 1 & 2||7 June 2006||3-disc set|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 3 & 4||7 September 2006||3-disc set, includes Christmas special 1|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 5||9 February 2007||4-disc set|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 6||7 November 2007||2-disc set|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 7||2 April 2008||2-disc set|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 8||6 August 2008||2-disc set, includes Christmas special 2|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 9||5 March 2009||2-disc set, includes The Best of 'Allo 'Allo!|
|'Allo 'Allo! – The Complete Collection||6 August 2009||18-disc box set|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 1–4||5 August 2010||6-disc set|
Universal Playback, under licence from the BBC, began releasing the series on DVD in 2002. In the UK six box sets with series 1–9 have been released, as well as a complete box set.
The original UK releases have episode titles superimposed over the openings of the episodes (series 1–4). The 2013 re-release of the complete series box set omits the majority, but not all of these superimposed titles. The American releases have no on-screen episode titles, reflecting the way that the shows were originally transmitted.
|DVD name||Release date||Comments|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 1 & 2||8 August 2002|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 3 & 4||16 February 2004|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 5 Volume 1||23 October 2006|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 5 Volume 2||26 December 2006|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 6 & 7||18 August 2008|
|'Allo 'Allo! – Series 8 & 9||26 December 2008|
|'Allo 'Allo! – The Complete Collection||2 November 2009|
|'Allo 'Allo! – The Complete Collection (re-release)||23 September 2013||Contains 85 episodes (including the two Christmas specials) although the cover states that it contains only 84.|
|'Allo 'Allo! – The Complete Collection (re-release)||2 November 2015||Contains 85 episodes (including the two Christmas specials) although the cover states that it contains only 84.|
|'Allo 'Allo! – The Christmas Specials||3 November 2014|
North American releases
In January 2004, BBC Worldwide began releasing the show themselves onto DVD in North America, beginning with Series 1. The releases have continued on a somewhat irregular basis (approximately circa twice-yearly).
|DVD Name||Release dates|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series One||2004-01-20 (2 discs)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Two||2005-03-15 (2 discs; includes Christmas special 1)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Three||2005-08-16 (2 discs)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Four||2006-01-24|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Five Part Un||2006-07-25 (2 discs)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Five Part Deux||2006-07-25 (2 discs)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Six||2007-01-16 (2 discs)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Seven||2008-01-15 (2 discs)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Eight||2008-05-06 (2 discs; includes Christmas special 2)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Nine||2008-10-07 (2 discs; includes the Best of)|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Best of (1994)||2008-10-07|
|'Allo 'Allo!: The Return of (2007)||TBA|
- Note: The Best of 'Allo 'Allo! is included as an extra on the series nine DVDs.
- "BBC One: 'Allo 'Allo!". BBC Programmes. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "'Allo 'Allo – BBC1 Sitcom". comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- Ironically, Arthur Bostrom, who played Crabtree, is one of the few cast members who speaks fluent French.
- BBC Comedy Guide – 'Allo 'Allo! Retrieved on 22 January 2007. Archived 16 November 2007 at WebCite
- "'Allo 'Allo! due for screen return". BBC. 8 March 2007. Archived from the original on 16 November 2007.
- "Richard & Judy". Channel 4. 28 March 2007.
- "'Allo 'Allo! – Single by Carmen Silvera on Apple Music".
- Chart Stats – Je t′aime Retrieved on 22 January 2007.
- "beeb backCHAT Archive: A Chat with Gorden Kaye". Aa.marktv.org. 25 January 1990. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- M/C Reviews (8 July 2007). "M/C Reviews – Theatre: 'Allo 'Allo – What Went Wrong Here, Then?". Reviews.media-culture.org.au. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Mark Brown (4 July 2008). "Listen very carefully – 'Allo 'Allo! is coming back". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
- "Celebrating 50 Years of Elstree TV Centre". atvtoday.co.uk. 30 April 2011.
- "'Allo 'Allo". IMDb. 30 December 1982.
- "BBC vetoed 'Allo 'Allo remake fearing Nazi characters would offend viewers who won't see 'funny side' of incompetent Gestapo officer Herr Flick". 2016-08-12. Retrieved 2016-08-15.
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