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‘Allo ‘Allo!

THAT EXCLAMATION mark says it all. More perspicacious production line period palaver from the pens of David Croft – who with Jimmy Perry wrote the vastly overrated [cref 715 DAD’S ARMY] and the endless [cref 2607 HI-DE-HI!] – and Jeremy Lloyd which never seemed to be off the telly and lasted longer than the war it was “gently lampooning”. Entire premise ripped off from [cref 3648 SECRET ARMY]. Rene (GORDEN KAYE), a moon-faced smart-alec cafe owner who spoke like someone doing a shit impression of Inspector Clouseau, reluctantly agrees to help the French resistance during WW2. Married to a prickly wife Edith who can’t sing (“Youuuuuu stupid woman!”) but also fancies the arse off barmaid Yvette, but who keeps being distracted by Michelle the “collaborator” (“Listen very carefully, I shall say zees only once”), who keeps trying to avoid the machinations of Gestapo goon with a limp Herr Flick, and Helga the blonde Nazi officer who took to appearing in only her underwear, and the gay Nazi officer, the stupid Nazi officer, British airmen in terribly unamusing inability to escape to “Blighty” and uproarious false accents (“I was just pissing by”), “Mother” upstairs called Fanny with comic ear trumpet, the French policeman next door… Oh, dear god. Entire seasons seemed to revolve around Rene being presumed dead and being replaced with his identical brother (GORDEN KAYE, unsurprisingly), or the location of the Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies, or comically-shaped bratwurst. Each episode opened with Gorden looking stupid (standing in a bale of hay, or appearing dressed as a woman, or appearing dressed as a woman in a bale of hay) and asking us what we thought he was doing. How the hell did we know ? RONNIE HAZELHURST arranged the theme, which didn’t really fit in on account of it being really rather good.

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. fud

    December 27, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    The theme was only arranged by Hazelhurst, but written by Roy Moore & David Croft. As suggested, it was far better than the show deserved…

  2. Paul

    December 29, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Also live versions featuring any cast members that were still alive being pushed around in bath chairs all over Australia and Bognor.

  3. Arthur Nibble

    December 29, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Bognor Regis? Not the bath chair capital of West Sussex – try Worthing!

  4. Brian Rowland

    January 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Tony Robinson’s least favourite television programme, apparently. Guy Siner got a Seinfeld cameo eventually. And we got Gorden Kaye and Vicki Michelle releasing a Christmas cover of Je T’Aime. Probably called “Listen Very Carefully Je T’Aime”.

  5. jon

    January 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I cant see why it was disliked so much. There were far worse comedies on TV at the time.

  6. Glenn A

    January 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I have seen the stage version in Whitehaven, Cumbria, 4 years ago and this attracted a sell out crowd over three nights to see, admittedly very good, amateur thesps do a stage version of the television scripts. Such is the power of Allo Allo after 20 years.

  7. Danforth

    January 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Remember the final episode? (Specials notwithstanding) Germans surrender, the war is over… fade to the present day… a decrepit Rene *finally* runs off with an only slightly less aged Yvette. His wife calls him on it in the usual tradition and he replies “You stuuuuupid woman, what does it look like I’m doing? … I’m eloping!” and off they drive.

  8. David Pascoe

    January 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    It went downhill once Sam Kelly and Francesca Gonshaw left. Went on long past its sell by date, hence the general contempt it receives. Latterly interesting for two reasons:

    1) A sketch on “That Mitchell and Webb Sound” in which David Mitchell is trying to prove to his wife that she doesn’t know everything there is to know about him. She correctly answers that his schoolboy crush was on Helga from ‘Allo ‘Allo, “A show full of sexy French women, and you fancy the Nazi.”

    2) I’ve seen the stage show, done by St.Ives Operatic Society. Perfectly undemanding summer fare, but it ends with Rene copping off with Edith which is all wrong.

    This, “Dad’s Army” and “Are You Being Served” are all available for stage performance. If they release the rights to “You Rang M’Lord”, I might audition.

  9. Kitten in a Brandy Glass

    January 8, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Other career highlights of Francesca Gonshaw:
    a) playing the unconvincing love interest of Biggles in Biggles: Adventures in Time.
    b) running about the grounds of a stately home in the dark, in the video for Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield.
    c) errr, that’s it.

  10. David Pascoe

    January 8, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    She did marry Edward Highmore in Howard’s Way. I recall the two of them playing a game of spin the bottle in one scene.

  11. Matthew Rudd

    June 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Who remembers the middle England uproar over the Comic Relief (or maybe CiN) filming of a scene from the stage show which involved Yvette trying to inflate a blow-up soldier with, erm, a sexual undercurrent to her technique? “Only adults have dirty minds” etc. Ludicrous.

    I rather liked Allo Allo, despite (or perhaps due to) its awfulness.

  12. Dom O'Reilly

    July 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Michelle was the Resistance, not a collaborator. Get it right if you’re going to criticise. I agree with Jon, there were far worse comedies around. And still are – ‘My Family’ being one.

    You could say it took British panto and music hall and put it on telly – laughing at everyone, including ourselves, with plenty of crossdressing and women in their underwear. It couldn’t be more British.

    I also like the way it showed that the French weren’t all brave Resistance soldiers and the Germans weren’t all ruthless killing machines.

  13. Richard Davies

    October 25, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I found it mostly OK, it went downhill after Jack Haig died but ended before it fell too far.

  14. Stew1972

    December 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    It went on for longer then the actual war!

  15. Thunderbird5

    April 2, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Like Minder and Only Fools and Horses, I could just not understand the obligatory affection and admiration for this programme.

  16. Matty

    September 4, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    It seemed odd that this went out in an evening slot and was full of risqué adult humour because, ultimately, the type of jokes appealed more to children’s dirty minds than they probably did to the adults they were aimed at: this always seemed to be a “grown-up’s” show that had more younger fans than old. Being fair on it, though, despite all the “it was rubbish” flack that gets thrown at it now I doubt there are many people who watched it when they were about ten who didn’t laugh at least once at Officer Crabtree’s mangled “french”.

  17. Neil Kerslake

    September 29, 2012 at 10:40 am

    This was, and still is, a brilliant classic British comedy. I agree that with the loss of Sam Kelly, it lost a lot. The change of actor for Herr Flick also didn’t help. However, the whole programme was designed as traditional light British sit-com along the lines of so many that were around at the same time, but with a different setting by two of the best sit-com writers there have ever been. It, along with the others from that era, proved that you didn’t need swearing, violence or obscenity to make a good comedy. Sadly, something that seems forgotten today.

  18. Glenn A

    September 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I used to like Mimi La Bonque, the dwarf who was a karate expert( odd as karate would have been unknown in Europe then).

  19. Glenn A

    November 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Someone did mention Francesca Gonshaw, but the actor who played the colonel appeared in the Boys from Brazil where he is killed in a hit and run in Dusseldorf. Also Captain Berterelli had a successful stint in Eastenders.

  20. THX 1139

    September 4, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    The most surprising things about the final episode are that Lt Gruber married Helga and sired six children and more importantly the audience were still laughing at the catchphrases in spite of having heard them approximately fifty billion times.

  21. Matthew bennion

    February 7, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    This write up to me seems very harsh! The 80s had far worse comedies being shown and half of those didn’t manage a 9 series run!

  22. Lee James Turnock

    April 8, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    One of those programmes absolutely everyone at school talked about, and which – when you look back – was pretty dreadful all round.

  23. Barbersmith

    September 11, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    Dad’s Army was ‘overrated’. This was shit. Jesus. Do you realise how deeply, deeply unfunny your podcasts are? You really are in no place to judge comedy. You tiresome little pricks.

  24. Joanne Gray

    February 12, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    I used to laugh at this show until I ached all over. Admittedly though, the last series did go off the boil a lot with replacing Herr Flick’s face and Yvette’s pregnancy. But, I still tune into the repeats on weekday nights on Yesterday and shed a tear when I heard of Gorden Kaye’s recent passing.

  25. Tommy Ross

    July 26, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Stumbled across an episode on Drama, or possibly Yesterday, a few weeks ago, whilst waiting for another (better) programme to begin, and I was absolutely astonished at just how catchphrase-driven it was compared to how I remembered it. The people in the audience were in hysterics every time Monsieur Alphonse mentioned his ‘dicky ticker’ or René said ‘you stupid woman’. Pretty bleak stuff, all told, but as Dom O’Reilly said above, if you were keen on the British music hall / panto / end-of-the-pier tradition, this was probably manna from heaven to you.

  26. Scott McPhee

    May 10, 2020 at 4:18 am

    The atage version toured Australia in early 1990. A local actor, Max Gillies played Rene.

    Allo Allo was called ‘the most tasteful concept about Nazis since Hogan’s Heroes.’

  27. Droogie

    May 10, 2020 at 7:49 am

    I remember the Ch 4 comedy show Who Dares Wins doing a brutal piss-take of Allo Allo that featured a follow up set in 80’s Belfast called Begorahh Begorrah! where a Northern Irish Rene lookalike bar owner was constantly being threatened with knee-capping by comical IRA members in balaclavas. I did enjoy Allo Allo as a kid . The rude mispronunciations by Crabtree induced hysteria to a young dirty-minded schoolboy matched only by the mention of character Miss Funnyfanny on the Russ Abbot show. Allo Allo’s theme tune also follows in the tradition of instrumental TV themes where you can sing the show’s title to the music. ( Try it if you don’t believe me.)

  28. THX 1139

    May 10, 2020 at 10:36 am

    When Vicki Michelle was on Pointless Celebrities a couple of weeks ago, she mentioned she’d seen the mysterious Francesca Gonshaw recently, so she must be OK.

    • Droogie

      May 11, 2020 at 12:52 am

      Vikki Michelle was a producer on the massive turkey that was the 2011 movie version of Run For Your Wife. Has anyone else attempted watching this all the way through? I thought it might be a giggle for some cheap laughs at a bad movie like Showgirls, but it’s more like enduring Carry On Columbus.again.

      • THX 1139

        May 11, 2020 at 10:10 am

        I think “cheap” is the word for it, it looks like it was filmed in somebody’s front room. It will also never be seen again because R*lf H*rr*s is in it.

      • richardpd

        May 11, 2020 at 11:06 am

        I remember Red Dwarf joked about not seeing the stage version of it.

  29. Glenn Aylett

    May 11, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    17 million people watched Allo Allo in the eighties and it was one of the better sitcoms of that decade. Yes I know it went on a bit too long, but in its heyday in the mid eighties, it really was good to watch and people loved the double entendres.

    • Droogie

      May 12, 2020 at 12:04 am

      Glenn Aylett – isn’t this when you choose to drone on about your usual tedious obsessive repetitions? Matthew Bannister revamping Radio 1 is a particular yawn of yours. Most of us who wanted to hear grunge and Britpop rather than Bohemian Rhapsody and Hotel
      California on a loop were delighted with all the irrelevant Smashy and Niceys getting laid off .

      • Glenn Aylett

        May 12, 2020 at 11:52 am

        Now then. Droogie, what has this do with Allo Allo and also I found DLT and Simon Bates as crap as you did and Radio 1 was a take it or leave it station where I lived until Atlantic 252 arrived in 1989, which really soared in popularity in the early nineties. ( No more Simon Bates namedropping, snooker on the radio or Steve Wright regarding music as an irritation). However, the old school Radio 1 was undoubtedly popular with its core audience, but when it changed and Radio 2 was still run by Frances Line, millions of listeners had nowhere to go on the BBC. It was probably the same with Croft and Perry sitcoms, those who lapped up Grace and Favour probably wouldn’t understand Ab Fab and the changes in comedy.
        OK do we understand each other as I find you one of the good contributors on here.

        • richardpd

          May 12, 2020 at 1:37 pm

          Well said, there were a lot of 30-50 year olds who were caught in the gap between the outputs of Radio 1 & 2 who had to turn to the local independent stations, virgin Radio or Atlantic 252 to listen to the sort of music they liked.

          If the BBC had launched Radio 5 as a Radio 1.5 then then things would have been a lot better for them.

          The Perry / Croft / Lloyd sitcoms would be fairly easy listening if they were music, something entertaining and undemanding.

          Allo Allo worked on a few levels, as a pre-teen the innuendos went over my head but the usual zany scheme of the week was more on my wavelength, especially if it involved something like camera disguised as a potato or a bugging device in a daffodil.

  30. Droogie

    May 12, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    I apologise wholeheartedly Glenn for my drunken midnight comment . Blame it on cabin fever and quarantine and too much white wine in the fridge. I love this site and the regular contributors. I wish there more of us! I’m sorry for getting personal. Stay safe.

    • Glenn Aylett

      May 13, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Droogie, no problem, everyone has cabin fever and for all the weather is nice, there’s nowhere to go and drink is the only escape. Interestingly ITV 4 has one of the Creamier Bonds on tonight, Diamonds Are Forever, which always raises a smile and set the tone for the Roger Moore Bonds.

  31. Droogie

    May 14, 2020 at 1:47 am

    Interesting you mention Diamonds Are Forever. I was listening to a podcast today about agoraphobia ( very topical right now ) and Howard Hughes naturally came up. I didn’t realise he was the inspiration for the character of reclusive billionaire character Willard Whyte In Diamonds.

    • richardpd

      May 14, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      They even used a Hughes owned casino for the filming of Diamonds Are Forever, & Howard wanted a 16mm print as part of the payment.

    • Glenn Aylett

      May 16, 2020 at 10:31 am

      I thought that as well. Also once the film gets out of Amsterdam, it turns from being a typical hard Connery Bond into something you’d associate with the late period Moore films and fun to watch in places( the Bombe Surprise, Blofeld in drag, Bambi and Thumper and the moon buggy chase come to mind).

  32. Droogie

    May 15, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    Interesting. Did you know Hughes spent a lot of his later secluded years at his house watching Ice Station Zebra on a permanent loop ? He also tried buying back every print of his film The Conqueror with John Wayne because he thought it was a cursed movie as most of the cast and crew died of cancer after being exposed to atom bomb testing in the desert during the shoot.

  33. Droogie

    May 15, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Interesting. Did you know Hughes during his later secluded years watched Ice Station Zebra on a continual loop? He also tried buying back every print of his movie The Conqueror starring John Wayne which he thought a cursed film due to most of the cast and crew dying from cancer from being exposed to desert atomic bomb tests during filming.

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