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Series / Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

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The original "Magnificent Seven": (clockwise from top l) Neville, Barry, Oz, Moxey, Wayne, Dennis, and Bomber

Why Aye, man!

Comedy-drama from the writing team of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Season One (1983-1984) involved seven manual labourers from various parts of England. It was the mid-Eighties and there were no jobs to be found in this country, so they travelled to Germany to find work, forming themselves into a tight-knit group amid all the Culture Clash. They even used The Magnificent Seven title.

Season Two (1986) featured the same seven re-uniting and travelling from Wolverhampton to the English countryside to Spain on various building projects.

British Brevity was somewhat averted by these first two seasons, which contain 13 episodes each rather than the usual six. A third season was planned but shelved after Gary Holton, one of the seven principal cast members, passed away.

It was eventually revived for a few years in 2002, Darker and Edgier. With the six remaining members, Timothy Spall (Barry), Christopher Fairbank (Moxey), Jimmy Nail (Oz), Tim Healy (Dennis), Pat Roach (Bomber) and Kevin Whately (Neville) returning and Noel Clarke filling the gap as Wayne's son, Wyman.

The strong accents (especially Geordie), including regional slang terms and the obscure British cultural references, would probably make the series almost completely unintelligible to anyone from outside the United Kingdom.

This programme provides examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Wayne reluctantly turns down Bomber's daughter because she's too young, vulnerable and only looking for attention (and he's been threatened with castration) and he mentions turning down two Rolling Stones groupies who mistake him for Ronnie Wood because it goes against his code to trick them like that.
  • Abusive Parents: Moxey and Oz. Oz is also guilty of being an abusive parent.
  • Anti-Hero: Most of the main characters.
  • Artifact Title: Season One was the only one to involve Germany.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Oz (6'3") and Dennis (5'6") respectively.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Barry and Moxey are blonds, Dennis, Oz and Neville are all brunettes and Bomber is a redhead while Wayne is raven haired.
  • Book Ends: Series One begins with Dennis, Oz and Neville on the ferry on their way to Germany. The second of the hour-long Christmas specials ends with the exact same scenario, and Neville gives us a Title Drop.
  • Brainy Brunette: Dennis but he's not as clever as Barry.
  • Britain Is Only London: Very much averted here, as almost every part of England is represented by the main seven. Neville, Oz and Dennis are Geordies, Barry is from The Midlands, Bomber is from The West Country and Moxey is a Liverpudlian. Wayne is the only Londoner.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Possibly. Kadi and Tatiana are probably only pretending to be brother and sister but it's never actually confirmed.
  • Bruiser With A Soft Centre: Bomber.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Oz knocks Big Baz to the floor with a headbutt the moment the latter appears.
  • Butt-Monkey: Barry and sometimes, Moxey.
  • The Casanova: Wayne.
  • Character Development: Oz did some serious growing up between Season Two and the revival.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The videotapes in "A Home from Home".
  • Chick Magnet: Wayne again.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Wayne refuses to take advantage of teenage girls or trick Rolling Stones groupies who think he's Ronnie Wood into sex, and he seems to treat the women he sleeps with quite respectfully. He did cheat on his wife, ending his marriage, but, unlike other characters who mistreat their wives, he expresses genuine remorse for it.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: The Turkish pimp and his knife. Ally Fraser shows the potential to be this when he warns Wayne off Vicky.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Neville's wife Brenda, in the first season.
  • Coffin Contraband: In "Last Rites", Oz develops a sideline in selling pornographic videos. When his mate Headly Irwin dies, Oz tries to smuggle the video tapes back to Britain in Headly's coffin.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the first episode, Neville acquired an embarrassing tattoo on his arm whilst drunk and couldn't afford to have it removed (by series 2, he has had the scroll with the offending text tattooed over in solid black). When he briefly appears shirtless in the 2002 revival, it's still there.
    • Neville takes on extra work during Series 1 as Brenda wants to re-do their bathroom. In Series 2, Neville mentions that he still hasn't got around to re-doing the bathroom after two years.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Moxey has his moments.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 2002 revival had Bomber suffering from a serious illness and Moxey and Dennis struggling with extreme poverty. Also featured drugs, hitmen, organised crime, an illegal immigrant almost forced into prostitution, and the various issues surrounding the use of gangmasters providing East European labour on the Middlesbrough Bridge contract.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often Wayne.
  • Domestic Abuse: Vicky is the target of this from Ally Fraser. Moxey comes from a family with a violent stepfather who molests his sister.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Neville, who is the nicest of the characters and happily married to Brenda, wakes up after a night of drinking to find "Neville Loves Lotte" tattooed on his arm. He doesn't even know anyone called Lotte.
  • Fake Shemp: When Gary Holton died mid-way through recording the second season, some on-the-hoof rewrites enabled the series to go ahead with his character featured throughout, although the extant footage of him was spread noticeably thinly. As they had filmed all of the exterior scenes with Wayne in them but had not started any of the interior scenes, they decided to dress one of the production team in a wig to look like Wayne for backshots during indoor scenes to keep some form of continuity going.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: It’s in full effect given that the series is about a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits with seven members.
  • Mooks: Ally Fraser and Mickey Startup both have them. Big Baz could be considered a dragon.
  • Mysterious Past: Moxey and Colin.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The skinny dip in Spain.
  • Native American Casino: The revival series had a plot involving our heroes demolishing a historic bridge in England, and rebuilding it across a canyon in Arizona to provide access to a Native American casino. This is a Shout-Out to an urban legend relating to the sale of the old London Bridge and its re-erection in Arizona as a tourist attraction.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: A disgraced former Member of Parliament who reeks of erudition and corruption in equal measure, plugging his prison memoirs with the intent on making them a bestseller? Fair to say Geoffrey Granger is a not particularly subtle parody of Jeffrey Archer.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Oz and Bomber.
  • Only Sane Employee: Dennis, frequently.
  • Oop North: Not Derbyshire though, which is the South as far as Dennis is concerned.
  • Pink Is for Sissies: Bomber's response when Neville wants to paint the hut pink.
  • Porn Stash: 'Last Rites'.
  • POW Camp: Series One, frequently. Multiple Shout-Out to those 1950s British PoW films - The Wooden Horse in particular. Series Four has various Shout-Out to The Bridge on the River Kwai with Barry in the Colonel Nicholson role at times.
  • Prison Rape: Apparently almost happened to Geoffrey Granger. Luckily for him, Oz was around to help.
  • Protagonist-Centred Morality: When Oz mistreats people he's an anti-hero that you root for. When a character like Herr Grunwald or Arthur Pringle mistreat the group then they are a villain deserving of humiliation.
  • Really Gets Around: Wayne.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: It deliberately changed its opening and closing themes for each new series or special.
  • Right in Front of Me: Barry with Terry Leather.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Moxey.
  • Secret Squatter: In the second series, the gang are staying in an empty mansion that is being converted into a retirement home. Barry hears a local ghost story about how the mansion is haunted, and after hearing the story food starts disappearing from the refrigerator and objects start moving when the gang is out working. Barry thinks this is proof that the ghost story is true, but Oz gets to the bottom of the mystery by putting superglue on the fridge door handle; it turns out the "ghost" was a homeless man who had been squatting at the house and hiding in a cupboard during the day. They give him some new clothes and money, and send him on his way instead of calling the police.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Barry and Wayne, this also applies to Neville and Oz.
  • Sexy Secretary: Dagmar and Christa.
    • Neville has one to lust over in series three, Annie Cartwright no less.
    • Averted in several directions by Dagmar, who seems to be developing a genuine relationship with Dennis (estranged from his wife) - until their night in a hotel is spoilt when the rest of the Brits turn up, having burnt down their hut in a drunken prank gone drastically wrong.
  • Sexy Stewardess: Wayne and Barry try to pull two sexy stewardesses in Series One.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes:
    • The Big Mouth: Oz.
    • The Dork: Barry.
    • The Sage: Dennis.
    • Neville is both the Square and the Stick.
    • The Wisecracker: Oz and Wayne.
  • Sleazy Politician: Geoffrey Granger.
  • Smug Snake: Ally Fraser. And Geoffrey Granger even more so. And Tarquin bloody Pearce.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Wyman is one for Wayne, though in name rather than by character.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Bomber who frequently visits brothels despite being married with 5 children.
  • Third-Person Person: Bomber.
  • Title Drop: In the closing scene of the final episode, courtesy of Neville.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Between seasons two and three Brenda goes from a simpering housewife to a hard-nosed businesswoman.
  • Trash the Set: Takes place at the end of season one when Wayne inadvertently burns the hut down.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Barry and Tatiana.
  • The Unintelligible: Oz with his strong accent in the first two seasons. Lampshaded by Moxey: "Nobody understands a tossing word you're saying."
  • The Vamp: Tatiana.
  • Villains Out Shopping: When Oz storms into Ally Fraser's office while Dennis is meeting with him and chins Fraser's dragon, Big Baz, a shocked Dennis explains, "He was only going for a Tandoori chicken!"
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: How Neville ends up with the aforementioned Embarrassing Tattoo.
  • Written-In Absence:
    • When Gary Holton (Wayne) died during the filming of season two, his presence was often accounted for by explaining he was elsewhere at the time. In the 2002 series his character was written out as having died of a heart defect.
    • Pat Roach was too ill to appear in what would be the last season in 2004. He sadly died during filming of that two-hour special. In a touching scene, Dennis reads a letter from Bomber to the rest of the group while they are all dining in a restaurant, where he explains his reasons for not having joined them. The group lift their glasses and drink a toast; "To Bomber!"
  • You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses: Barry tries this tactic when Ally Fraser's goons show up at Thornely Manor to beat up the striking builders. It doesn't work, but the fighting prowess of some of the other lads means he avoids serious injury anyway.