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A 1980s Brit Com set in Maplins, a 1950s holiday camp. It was created by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, who also wrote Dad's Army and You Rang, M'Lord?. The title refers to the catchphrase exchanged between the campers and staff. The series focused mainly on the lives of the camp's staff, most of whom were either past their glory days, or trying to break into the entertainment industry.Main characters include:
Professor Jeffrey Fairbrother (Simon Cadell) (Seasons 1-5) - A shy upper-class Cambridge professor who is escaping his real job and his wife by working at Maplins as the Entertainments Manager.
Squadron-Leader The Honourable Clive Dempster DFC (David Griffin) (Seasons 6-9) - Jeffrey's replacement as Entertainments Manager. Clive is also upper-class, but is brash, flirtatious, and perpetually on the make.
Gladys Pugh (Ruth Madoc) - Chief Yellowcoat and Sports Organiser - is very bossy and has an enormous and unrequited love for Jeffrey. (She transfers her crush to Clive the moment Jeff is gone.)
Ted Bovis (Paul Shane) - The Camp Host - is very popular with the campers due to his cheerful and charming personality. Ted is rather dishonest, and has a number of schemes going to make extra money out of the campers, such as rigging raffles so that he always wins.
Fred Quilly (Felix Bowness) - The Camp Riding instructor - was once a jockey but had his licence removed for dishonesty.
Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves (Diane Holland) and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves (Barry Howard) - A married couple who are the camp's Ballroom Dancers. They are both outrageous snobs, despite not actually being upper class as they pretend to be. (Ironically, the genuinely upper class characters, Jeffrey and Clive, are entirely unsnobbish.)
Mr Partridge AKA "Uncle Willie" (Leslie Dwyer) - The camp Childrenís Entertainer - a hopeless alcoholic who hates children. Replaced in Series 7 (following Dwyer's death) by the very similar "Uncle Sammy" Morris (Kenneth Connor).
Peggy Ollerenshaw (Su Pollard) - A Chalet Maid who wants to become a Yellowcoat.
Sylvia Garnsy (Nikki Kelly) - An attractive blonde Yellowcoat with a long-running rivalry with Gladys.
The Yellowcoats - Stanley & Bruce (collectively known as the Twins), Gary, Betty, Mary, Val, Tracey, April, Dawn, Babs. An ever-revolving group of young camp workers.
This show provides examples of:
Actor Allusion: In the episode "Empty Saddles", Gladys, growing jealous of Betty and Jeff's shared fondness for Gustav Mahler, tells Jeff she has a record of the Black and White Minstrels if he's interested. Ruth Madoc was herself a performer on The Black and White Minstrel Show.
The Alcoholic: Mr Partridge. Usually it's played for laughs, but in one episode it's revealed that he slid into alcoholism after his career was disrupted by his service in World War I.
British Accents: A very diverse group, including Received Pronunciation (Jeffrey, Clive, Yvonne), Yorkshire (Ted), Birmingham (Spike), Welsh (Gladys), Lancashire (Peggy), Nottingham (Barry), Cockney (Fred, Mr. Partridge), and various others.
Catch Phrase: The ubiquitous phrase "Hi-De-Hi" itself, said by everyone.
Character Outlives Actor: Leslie Dwyer, who played Punch and Judy man Mr. Partridge, died in 1986 between Series 6 and 7. His character was written out in a bizarre and rather tasteless manner; what appeared to be his dead body was found floating in a swimming pool with a knife sticking out of its back, but when the police fished it out it turned out to be a mannequin, and someone eventually found a letter from Mr Partridge explaining that he'd staged his own death and gone to live with a pub landlady in Cornwall. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context and it wasn't very funny, either. He was replaced by the similar Sammy Morris, played by Kenneth Connor.
The Charmer: Clive flirts with all the girls, much to Gladys' annoyance, as she wants him all to herself. Ted charms the campers, but the staff are relatively immune to his charm.
Cloudcuckoolander: "Potty" Peggy the chalet maid. Poor dear Peggy is desperate to be a Yellow Coat, but no-one will give her a chance. She often gets dragged into the latest Zany Scheme, in the desperate hope it will help her chance of promotion.
Double Entendre: A mainstay of Ted's act, much to the disgust of Gladys and Yvonne. (Of course, the campers love it.)
Downer Ending: In the series finale, Alec Foster, Joe Maplin's enforcer, announces that for the following season, the camps are to be overhauled, and that, as part of this, the entire Entertainment staff are being let go. This is not so hard on Clive and Gladys, who were already planning to move to Australia, but it is rather harder on the other staff members, all of whom were planning to return for the following season, and particularly hard on Peggy, who had finally realised her dream of becoming a Yellowcoat with only two weeks left in the season. The fact that most of the staff remain upbeat in the face of this may make this more of a Bittersweet Ending.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first episode has a few oddities - Fred is contemptuous of the old horses in his care, instead of being devoted to them as he is later on. Gladys doesn't open her Radio Maplin announcements with her usual 'Hello campers, hi de hi!', but instead starts with 'Radio Maplin'. Spike and Ted refer to Jeffrey as 'The Professor', rather that Spike calling him 'Mr Fairbrother' and Ted calling him 'Jeff'. There is also a camp singer in the first two episodes called Marty Storm who is never seen again.
The Fifties: Though the writers don't hit you over the head with the period setting, campers can often be seen with Brylcreemed hair and other fifties fashion horrors, 1950s music is played in the background, characters make references to foodstuffs of the period, and the main characters occasionally mention their war experiences in passing.
Frozen In Time: The Fifties were the heyday of holiday camps. In later decades, the rise of cheap travel to continental Europe lead to holidays overseas becoming much more popular. (There is a theory that The Credit Crunch may lead to a revival in popularity of camps.)
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Gladys varies from being on-key to off-key. The effect is ghastly but sounds nothing like an actual tone-deaf person would.
Hufflepuff House: The Yellowcoats are a pretty generic bunch, and the campers are usually so unimportant to the story they are virtually part of the scenery.
I Coulda Been a Contender: All the older members of staff have careers that are on the slide, which is why they work in a holiday camp, and not somewhere more salubrious. Yvonne and Barry are former champion ballroom dancers whose talents are no longer in demand anywhere else, Ted is a comic that never cracked the big time, Fred is desperate to get his jockey's licence back so he can ride professionally again, and Mr Partridge is a former music hall entertainer.
Jerkass: Gladys, when dealing with Peggy or Sylvia.
Jerkass Has a Point: Ted feels he would make a better Entertainment Manager than Jeff. Whilst Jeff is honest and Ted isn't, it has to be said that Ted is much better at presenting to the campers than Jeffrey is.
Love Hurts: Poor Gladys and her hopeless crush on Jeffrey. Also, Ted's doomed romance with a woman half his age, any time Peggy's interested in anyone, and Spike breaking up with his first childhood sweetheart.Hi-De-Hi! has something of a bittersweet strain running through it, never more than when one of the characters is is love.
Non-Idle Rich: Jeffrey is mocked by Ted for being an Upper-Class Twit, but he's actually a decent, hardworking guy who treats everyone with respect. Clive, on the other hand...
Orphaned Punchline: Often we only get to hear the punchline to Ted's jokes. (The punchlines generally sound like the joke would have been rather ribald for the Fifties when the show is set, but not for the Eighties when the show was made.)
Reality Is Unrealistic: Many former UK holiday camp workers (both from the time the series was set and more recently) have noted that the series was toned down from the reality of working in holiday camps.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Subverted in "Wedding Bells". Clive's family are trying to get to the church to stop his wedding to Gladys, but thanks to Ted's Road Sign Reversal and the church scheduling two weddings in one afternoon, they arrive just in time to interrupt the second wedding, by which time Clive and Gladys have already departed for their honeymoon.
Straight Man: The writers deliberately did not give Simon Cadell (Jeffrey Fairbrother) any jokes in his lines. The humour of the character comes from Cadell's brilliantly dry delivery and facial expressions.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted with Jeffrey and Clive. Jeffrey is shy, especially with women, and hardworking. Clive is an outrageous flirt and a total shyster. Played straight with Mr Partridge and Sammy Morris - both are lazy alcoholics who dislike children, despite being children's entertainers.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Despite the squabbling, the Hi-de-Hi! gang always pull together when they are under threat from outsiders, such as senior Maplins staff visiting from Head Office.
Upper-Class Wit: Clive. Scion of an aristocratic family (though he takes little pride in his background) and an effortless charmer, particularly with the female staff, but has no work ethic whatsoever and is often in debt, particularly after his family stop his allowance in a bid to force him to return home, while he routinely squanders the meagre salary he is paid by Maplin's. Perhaps a bit lean on the "witty" side of the trope, but he's not unintelligent (which prevents him from being an Upper-Class Twit), just incredibly lazy.
Victorian Britain: Mr Partridge states in one episode that he was brought up "strictly Victorian". (As Fred points out, this is because "when you was a boy, she was still on the throne.") It explains a lot.
Video Credits: They are quite clearly extra footage, not stock footage, as the actors are out of character. (This is particularly noticeable with Diane Holland (Yvonne), who smiles kindly, rather than looking cold and snooty as she does when in character.)
What Did I Do Last Night?: In "A Night Not to Remember", Jeffrey wakes up after a night of heavy drinking, nude and with Gladys' bra in his bed. He becomes paranoid that he and Gladys spent the night together and that this will be used against him in divorce court. Gladys, annoyed at his lack of concern for her reputation, produces a policeman staying at the camp who claims in front of the assembled staff that he saw Gladys leave Jeffrey's chalet after only a few minutes. However, after the staff have gone, she tells Jeffrey that the policeman was just saying what she told him to say, and he never saw her enter or leave Jeffrey's chalet. She then says that she knows exactly what happened that night... and has no plans to tell him.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Peggy's dream of becoming a Yellowcoat is finally granted in the series finalenote such is her delight at her dream coming true that she overexerts herself and briefly ends up in hospital suffering from nervous exhaustion, and although there are only two weeks left in the season when she gets the job, she is ready and eager to sign up for the following season. Then Alec Foster, Joe Maplin's enforcer, shows up to announce that the camps will be given a complete revamp for the following season... and as part of this re-vamp, the Yellowcoats and other entertainers are being sacked en masse.