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Series / Hi-de-Hi!

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If you’ve got the blues, then I’ve got some news,
Join in the fun in your blue suede shoes,
With the holiday rock, the holiday rock,
The ho-de-ho-de-hi-de-hi holiday rock!

Hi-De-Hi! is a Brit Com set in Maplins, a fictional 1950s holiday camp starring Simon Cadell, Paul Shane, Ruth Madoc, Jeffrey Holland, and Su Pollard. 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.

In the first episode, the position of Entertainments Manager at the Crimpton-on-Sea camp is taken by shy, upper-class Cambridge archaeology professor Jeffrey Fairbrother (Cadell), who feels stifled by his job and relationship problems. His estranged wife is seeking a divorce, but he is reluctant to end the marriage. He is hoping to re-invigorate himself with a change of scene. However, while he is a capable manager, he is a hopeless entertainer, and most of the actual entertainment is co-ordinated by camp host Ted Bovis (Shane), a comedian whose professional career never quite took off but whose cheerful and charming personality makes him popular with the campers, and makes up for his scheming and dishonesty in cheating them out of money with rigged raffles and bingo games. The sports, meanwhile, are organised by Chief Yellowcoat Gladys Pugh (Madoc), who is not shy about bossing around the other staff members - collectively known as Yellowcoats because of their signature yellow blazersnote  - and is instantly and hopelessly attracted to Jeffrey from the moment she meets him (Jeffrey quickly catches on to her affections but feels unable to reciprocate, being unwilling to give his wife grounds for divorce).

Among the entertainment staff are camp comic Spike Dixon (Holland), a young, enthusiastic up-and-comer whom Ted has taken under his wing and who believes his job at Maplins is the first rung on the ladder to stardom; former professional jockey Fred Quilley (Felix Bowness), whose jockey licence was revoked after his implication in a cheating scandal and who is biding his time as a riding instructor until his licence can be restored; former champion ballroom dancers turned dance instructors Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves (Diane Holland and Barry Howard), two outrageous snobs (despite being of middle-class heritage at best) who feel most of their duties as Yellowcoats are beneath them; and former music hall performer turned Punch and Judy man "Uncle Willie" Partridge (Leslie Dwyer), a hopeless alcoholic who hates children. Desperate to join their ranks is chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw (Pollard), who willingly participates in all manner of Zany Schemes and absurd performances if it means she has a chance of becoming a Yellowcoat.

The younger Yellowcoats include Gary Bolton (Terence Creasey in Series 1, Chris Andrews thereafter); identical twins Stanley and Bruce Matthews (David and Tony Webb); attractive blonde Sylvia Garnsey (Nikki Kelly), who has a long-running rivalry with Gladys; and a revolving door of other female staffers including Betty Whistler (Rikki Howard), Mary (Penny Irving), Val (Gail Harrison), Tracey Bentwood (Susan Beagley), Dawn Freshwater (Laura Jackson), Babs Weaver (Julie-Christian Young), and April Wingate (Linda Regan), the last of whom was romantically involved with Spike in the later series. Many of them are fresh out of drama school and hoping, like Spike, that their jobs at Maplins will put them in view of talent scouts and agents to launch their entertainment careers.

Simon Cadell left after Series 5 to avoid being Typecast, so Jeffrey Fairbrother was written out as having taken a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin in the USA between summer seasons and replaced by Squadron Leader, the Honourable Clive Dempster, DFC (David Griffin), who, in contrast to the introverted but hard-working Jeffrey, is brash, flirtatious, and perpetually on the make. Gladys almost immediately transfers her affections to Clive after Jeffrey's departure; their relationship is more turbulent but ultimately more successful. Leslie Dwyer had to leave early in Series 6's production due to declining health (he passed right before the end of Series 8), so the camp children's entertainer position was passed to "Uncle Sammy" Morris (Kenneth Connor), another alcoholic music hall star fallen on hard times. Finally, Barry Howard was dropped after Series 7 due to his drunken misbehaviour behind the scenes, so Barry was said to have left Yvonne and was replaced by her former dance partner Julian Dalrymple-Sykes (Ben Aris), a more down-to-earth character who also worked as a pig farmer.

Hi-De-Hi! ran for nine series from 1980-88; it could have run for longer, but some of the location shooting was done at a former Warners holiday camp in Dovercourt, Essex,note  and in 1987, the land was sold to housing developers and the camp was demolished, so the final series wrapped up several of the more long-running plot threads.

"First rule of comedy - you must have tropes":

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Ted makes a comment about auditioning for Coronation Street in the pilot. In reality, Paul Shane had been chosen to play Ted after Jimmy Perry saw him playing Frank Roper in a 1979 episode.
    • 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.
    • Frank Williams plays The Vicar in "Wedding Bells", just as he had done in David Croft and Jimmy Perry's first series, Dad's Army. As Edward Sinclair (who had played the Verger in Dad's Army) had passed away in 1977, Williams' Verger in Hi-de-Hi! was played by another DA co-star, Colin Bean.
  • A-Cup Angst: Yvonne's boobs are the subject of many jokes during the staff meeting in "The Epidemic":
    Barry: Well, you remember, dear. You lost your falsies, and when we got back to the dressing room, someone had drawn a Chad on the mirror and said "Wot, no boobs?".
    Yvonne: Barry, I do not read graffiti. Anyhow, I only wear them when I play Nell Gwyn. Otherwise, they're totally unnecessary.
    Ted: Spike, lend us your telescope.
    Fred: I think Yvonne's got very nice boobs. Especially when she wears that Grecian nymph dress.
    Mr. Partridge: Now, just a minute. Mr. Fairbrother'll bail me out because he's had a classical education. Greek nymphs didn't have big bristols, did they?
    Yvonne: If anyone says one more word about any part of my anatomy, I shall leave this meeting.
    Jeffrey: Now, please, may we get back to the point?
    Ted: Or points, as small as they are.
  • 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: Gladys and Sylvia never miss a chance to snipe at each other. Sylvia constantly needles Gladys over her age and betimes autocratic management style, while Gladys frequently implies that Sylvia is sexually overactive.
  • Artistic Licence – Geography: Invoked in "Eruptions", in which an animatronic tropical volcano called the Mighty Mountain of Piz Palü is set up in the Hawaiian Ballroom. However, the real Piz Palü is not a tropical volcano at all, but a peak in the Swiss Alps near the Italian border.
  • Ascended Extra: Julian first appeared as a guest character in series 5, filling in while Barry recovered from a back injury. He returned in series 8 as Barry's permanent replacement.
  • Bawdy Song: Despite what Mr Partridge thinks, "Eskimo Nell" is not fit for the ears of small children.
  • Blackmail:
    • In "All Change", Joe Maplin's fiancée and Yellowcoat Controller Joan Wainwright visits Crimpton-on-Sea and starts making life so miserable for Gladys - including ridiculing her for having no sporting qualifications, unlike the other Yellowcoats, and then promoting Tracey to chief Yellowcoat - that she decides to hand in her notice. However, Ted recognises "Joan Wainwright" as Beryl Green, a magician's assistant with whom he once shared a theatre bill in the 1940s... and knows that she and the magician had a mixed race child out of wedlock. He forces her to buy his silence by re-instating Gladys as chief Yellowcoat and leaving her alone henceforth.
    • In "Hey Diddle Diddle, Who's on the Fiddle", Clive reveals that he was appointed to the position of Entertainments Manager because Joe Maplin is angling for a knighthood, and hopes that by employing a member of the nobility, he can get the names of people in position of influence with skeletons in their closets whom he can then blackmail into appealing to the Crown to make him Sir Joe Maplin. Fortunately (or not, if you're Joe Maplin), Clive doesn't actually know any corrupt people in high places.
  • Blue Blood: In "Hey Diddle Diddle, Who's on the Fiddle", Ted, Spike, Fred, and Peggy borrow a copy of Burke's Peerage from the Crimpton-on-Sea library and discover that Clive's father is William, Lord Dempster, of Dempster Hall in Cambridgeshire, so that Clive would be more properly addressed as the Honourable Clive Dempster.note  However, he doesn't care much about his aristocratic heritage, and would rather everyone simply call him "Clive".
  • Boarding School of Horrors: In "Stripes", Jeffrey tells Ted that he spent his childhood from the age of 7 onwards in one of these, describing his experience there as nothing like the cosy image Ted got from Goodbye, Mr. Chips, but instead defined by "bare boards, cold baths, and being beaten with alarming regularity."
  • Book Dumb:
    • Ted may have a genial personality that wins over the campers, but he isn't exactly well-educated. He has no idea what an archaeologist is when he tells Spike that Joe Maplin has hired one as Entertainments Manager, while when he and Spike are spending their day off by Willy Lott's Cottage and Spike tells him Constable painted the house (at least twice, most famously in The Hay Wain), Ted, without a hint of irony, says it could do with another coat.
    • Spike is only marginally more culturally literate than Ted; although he knows enough about Constable to recognise Willy Lott's Cottage, he is just as unaware of what an archaeologist is when Ted tells him that their new boss is one, and when Jeffrey's former dean, Hugo Buxton, shows up at Maplins to offer him a faculty chair in archaeology and Ted thinks he is trying to sell him an actual chair, Spike says he thinks a faculty chair is "one of those that opens up into a bed."
    • Joe Maplin's letters to the camp are always littered with grammatical errors (which Jeffrey consistently reads aloud to the staff with a completely straight face), and his autobiography is entitled How I Done It.
  • British Brevity: 58 episodes in 9 seasons over 8 years.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Peggy spends many episodes allowing herself to be roped into various Zany Schemes which involve her dressing in silly costumes or enduring slapstick abuse.
    • This is part of Spike's job description; from the very first episode, Ted makes it clear he will be thrown in the swimming pool - in full costume - at least four times a day for the entertainment of the campers. (Not that he minds.)note 
  • Call-Back: In the first episode, Gladys is storing her tennis racket in the cupboard in Jeffrey's office when he arrives. She explains that his predecessor let her use the cupboard for this purpose, and that her racket is a championship model. When she introduces herself as the sports organiser and Jeffrey asks what sports she organises, she answers, "Oh, I'm not fussy... anything you like, I'm an all-rounder," an answer which leaves Jeffrey visibly uncomfortable. When Clive takes over the job of Entertainments Manager in "Ted at the Helm" in Series 6, Gladys "innocently" walks into his office and has the same conversation she had with Jeffrey, but while her side of the exchange is largely unchanged, Clive's reactions are far more enthusiastic.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Jeffrey is completely hopeless in front of a microphone. This is, in itself, utterly hilarious.
  • Catchphrase: The ubiquitous phrase "Hi-De-Hi!" itself, said by everyone. When the entertainment staff say it to the campers, the latter respond with "Ho-de-ho!"
  • 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.
  • Cheap Costume: Spike's endless array of naff comedy costumes, particularly the ones he designs himself, are made on a very limited budget.
  • Child Hater: Mr Partridge says in the very first episode, in so many words, that he hates kids, which is something of a problem given that he's the camp's Punch and Judy Man:
    Mr. Partridge: Well, I was packin' up the Punch and Judy... and I couldn't find the sausages. So, I looked around and there was this snotty-nosed kid suckin' an ice cream cornet. "Have you got my sausages?", I said. "Get lost, granddad", he said, and I could see 'em stickin' out of 'is pocket. So, I grabbed 'em awf 'im, snatched 'is ice cream cornet, stuck it in 'is face, give it a twist, then I clipped 'im 'round the ear'ole, and kicked 'im up the arse!
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Many of the Yellowcoat girls disappeared over the course of the series, with new ones popping up in their place as if they had been there from the start: Mary was replaced by Val in Series 2, who herself was replaced by Tracey in Series 3. Then come Series 6, Betty and Tracey both vanished (seeing how Series 6 took place a year after Series 5, it can be logical to assume they didn't sign up for the new season In-Universe, although Jeffrey left at the same time and got a whole episode about his departure) and April, Dawn, and Babs took their places, until Babs herself left after Series 7.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Gladys despises all the other female Yellowcoats, for the pure and simple reason that Jeffrey/Clive have the option of being with them instead of her.
  • 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.
  • Clueless Chick-Magnet: Jeffrey is handsome, sophisticated, friendly, charming and highly intelligent. Virtually all the female staff is after him (especially Gladys) but it often goes over his head and when he does pick up, he's too shy to act on it.note 
  • Coincidental Broadcast: At the end of 'Maplin Intercontinental', the TV happens to be tuned to a news story about the new Maplins holiday camp in the Caribbean getting flattened by a hurricane - just after Sylvia has won a transfer there as grand prize in the Best Yellowcoat competition and Peggy has been offered her job at Crimpton-on-Sea.
  • The Comically Serious: Jeffrey Fairbrother is a very serious chap, however much comic mayhem may be going on around him, and this in itself is a frequent source of humour. Whether he's reading Joe Maplin's borderline illiterate letters to the staff, introducing bawdy games to the campers, or participating in cheaply-costumed performances, his face and voice remain almost completely deadpan. Never is this more apparent than when he tries the "Hello campers, hi-de-hi!"/"Ho-de-ho!"/"[Speaker's name] can't hear you! HI-DE-HI!"/"HO-DE-HO!" exchange; while Ted and Spike are able to stoke the campers' enthusiasm by displaying plenty of their own, Jeffrey's inarticulate stammering produces a far more listless response from the holidaymakers.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Entertainments Manager Jeffrey is shy, especially with women, and hardworking. After he leaves, new manager Clive is an outrageous flirt and a total shyster.
  • Cool Car: Clive's red MG sports car turns the heads of all who see it. When he first arrives at Maplins to take up his position as Entertainments Manager, he invites a fascinated Peggy to join him for a spin around the car park, while Gladys' scheme to catch his eye is cut short by the mass arrival of the entertainment staff after they see the car parked outside and are eager to meet its driver.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Joe Maplin, the owner of Maplins holiday camps. Normally he just seems a strict boss, with his regular complaints at the camp costing too much money and demands that his orders are to be followed to the letter. However every so often he'll show how nasty he truly can be. When he wants some nearby land for expansion, his method is to bribe the town councillors, and gives strict orders that his staff do everything they can to scare off the surveyors that want to build a hospital on the land (which leads to most of the staff outright rebelling in disgust). When Jeffrey refuses, he responds by threating to release false information that he's having an affair with Gladys, ruining both their reputations and wrecking Jeffrey's divorce. Later on when an old woman won't vacate a cottage he owns, he bribes a man to knock it down while she's out at the shops. Jeffrey even at one point compares him to a Chicago Gangster.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": In "The Epidemic", Barry does his back in and so cannot dance with Yvonne, leading her to ring up Julian for help with her act.
  • Creator Cameo: Robin Carr (who directed the later series) can be spotted in the background of the final scene of "September Song" playing a female camper.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: In "Trouble and Strife", after yet another visit to Jeffrey's office by Barry and Yvonne to complain about the perceived indignities of their job, Jeffrey tells Gladys that he feels some sympathy for them since their days as champion ballroom dancers are behind them, and if Joe Maplin didn't employ them, they'd have nothing. However, his choice of words quickly gets him into a situation from which he can't extricate himself:
    Gladys: Well, I suppose you're right. Once their looks are gone, they're finished.
    Jeffrey: Precisely. I mean, after all, if you get bags under your eyes and a double chin, who cares?
    Gladys: [offended] Well, I haven't got bags under my eyes and a double chin! What you trying to say!?
    Jeffrey: [quickly] No, no, no, no, nothing! What I mean is that if you did get bags under your eyes and a double chin, I wouldn't mind.
    Gladys: [flirtatious] Wouldn't you really, Jeff?...
    Jeffrey: ... oh my God... [facepalms]
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The series' theme song, "Holiday Rock", is sung by Paul Shane, who played Ted Bovis.
  • Double Entendre:
    • A mainstay of Ted's act, much to the disgust of Gladys and Yvonne. (Of course, the campers love it.)
    • In "Hey Diddle Diddle, Who's on the Fiddle", the writers get a lot of mileage out of the homophonic nature of "nob" (short for "noble" when used as a noun) and "knob" (slang for male organ, also used as an insult), such as referring to Burke's Peeragenote  as a "book of nobs" and to Clive's Joe Maplin-given mission to look for corrupt members of the upper class as a search for "bent nobs".
  • 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.
  • Dumbass DJ: Gladys is Radio Maplin's DJ, a role that she uses to troll for gifts from the campers, and indulge her delusion that she can sing.
  • 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 than 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.
  • Facial Dialogue:
    • A speciality of Simon Cadell's. His ability to convey Jeffrey's bewilderment and/or discomfort at everything his job involves with just his facial expressions allows the writers to get away with not giving him funny lines.note 
    • Barry Howard recalled in an interview that the writers noticed he could convey a variety of emotions with a single glance toward Yvonne, and were able to generate laughs by simply writing "Barry gives Yvonne a look".
  • Fake Shemp: Due to Leslie Dwyer's failing health, Cyril Cook doubles for him in some scenes of "On With the Motley".
  • The '50s: 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.
  • Fish out of Water: Jeffrey, an upper-class Shrinking Violet academic in charge of a holiday camp full of working-class people.
  • Flanderization: Paul Shane admitted that everyone began exaggerating their characters in the later series:
    We were all doing it. The only one who wasn't guilty was Diane Holland. She never altered her character from day one to the last minute. Never. She was brilliant.
  • Frozen in Time: The '50s 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.)
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Jeffrey is a former University professor and one of the nicest people at the camp.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Clive is the 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 Maplins. 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.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Maplins has random bits added to it as the plot requires (even though the series was shot in a real holiday camp). Also, the location of the main character's chalets in relation to each other varied according to plot needs.
  • The Ghost:
    • Camp owner Joe Maplin is never seen (apart from an occasional shot from the waist down or otherwise obscuring his face), only talked about.
    • Miss Cathcart, Peggy's apparently terrifying immediate superior, never actually appears on screen.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Mr Partridge.
  • Henpecked Husband: Barry has mostly given up trying to argue with Yvonne about anything, as her dominant personality quickly squashes any objection he may have to whatever she is demanding, forcing him to go along with her just to calm her down (for example, whenever they visit Jeffrey's office to complain about the indignities of their job, Yvonne does almost all of the talking, while Barry looks as though he'd rather be anywhere else). He limits his objections to the occasional backhanded or sarcastic compliment.
  • 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.
    • Mary, then Val, then Tracey are this to Sylvia and Betty, who get much more of the limelight.
  • 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.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Before going to the Hawaiian Ballroom for Egyptian Night in "A Night Not to Remember", Jeffrey and Gladys split a bottle of champagne given to the latter by an admirer. In the ballroom, the guests include a quartet of Lancastrian rugby players who insist on buying drinks for the entertainment staff, and secretly lace Jeffrey's beer - and later tomato juice - with vodka, so that by the end of the evening he is completely smashed. We never learn exactly what happens after Gladys leads him back to his chalet, still holding a segment of the bar handrail, but the fact that he wakes up wearing nothing but a fez and with Gladys' bra in his bed has strong implications...
  • It Will Never Catch On: In "Ted at the Helm", set in 1960, Ted tells Spike that putting an ostrich puppet on his arm and pretending to bite people is a terrible idea, as no-one will either identify with an ostrich or take kindly to being bitten. Given the success of Rod Hull and Emu in the 1970s, Spike is apparently simply ahead of his time.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Ted feels he would make a better Entertainment Manager than Jeff or Clive. 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. And since Clive unloads all of the responsibility of his position on Ted so that he can spend his time (and other people's money) charming every girl in the camp instead of working, it's fair to say Ted is better at being Entertainment Manager than Clive.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Ted might be immoral and outright dishonest, but you can trust him to know where the line is, and he regards Gladys, Spike and Peggy as his friends and genuinely cares for them.
    • Gladys too, at least in season 8, where she stands up for Peggy against the abusive camp controller, Alec Foster.
  • Karma Houdini: Alec Foster is never punished for his bullying of several of the staff in "Orphan of the Storm". He is only recalled to Head Office.
  • King Incognito: In "Stripes", we learn that Joe Maplin regularly visits his holiday camps dressed in a shabby suit and posing as a camper to keep tabs on his employees, in terms of both how well they perform their jobs and how many confidence tricks they're running. However, the fact that he still wears gold cufflinks, a big diamond ring, and crocodile skin shoes triggers Peggy's suspicions.
  • Lethal Chef: Fred Larkin, whose awful cooking regularly causes illness.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Ted Lampshades the fact that he and Spike sometimes bicker like a married couple in the opening scene of "Stripes":
    [Ted and Spike are returning from a fishing trip on their day off]
    Spike: I hope you're not gonna cook those in the chalet, Ted. When you did those kippers it took a week to get the pong out of the place!
    Ted: What's the matter with you? You nag when we don't catch anything, and when we do, you nag how it's gonna smell when I cook it! Your nagging'll ruin our relationship, Spike! If it goes on much longer, we'll have to go and see the Marriage Guidance people!
  • 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 and falling in love with a camper, only for his colleagues to break them up because the changes he makes to his act to please her ruin his popularity with the other campers. Sylvia, Betty and Tracey are all romantically interested in Jeffrey but never get beyond the occasional flirtatious remark. Hi-De-Hi! has something of a bittersweet strain running through it, never more than when one of the characters is in love.
  • Modern Major General: Clive was clearly a capable airman, having achieved the rank of Squadron Leader and been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, but he's completely out of his depth as Entertainment Manager, having been appointed to the position precisely because of his Blue Blood military background and not because he was in any way qualified. He unloads most of the actual work on Ted and/or Gladys, and his considerable personal charm (and Gladys' crush on him) allows him to get away with it (mostly - Gladys and especially Ted start calling him out on his laziness more frequently in later series).
  • Morality Pet: Spike to Ted, while Ted's mostly harmless, Spike's always there to remind him where the line is and let him know when he's gone too far. Ted does accept Spike's view on these occasions - only after calling Spike "Dan, Dan the conscience man".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gladys has a moment of this in the final act of "Stripes". Her older half-brother Gareth comes to Maplins both for a holiday and to see her, but as he was charged with (but not convicted of) lewd conduct in a cinema and obliged to leave their home village years earlier, she worries that his presence puts her recent promotion at risk. When female campers and staff members report a peeping tom at the camp late at night, Gladys assumes it is Gareth and orders him to leave immediately to avoid criminal charges. However, the next morning, Jeffrey receives a phone call announcing the arrest of the peeping tom... and Gladys is mortified to learn that it wasn't Gareth after all. As if possibly irreparably damaging her own relationship with Gareth isn't enough, Gladys learns that she has also ruined his budding relationship with Peggy, who is distraught that he left without saying goodbye. She ruefully asks Spike how she could have been so wrong about him.note 
  • 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...
  • Not So Above It All: Jeff, who regularly gets embroiled in the Zany Scheme of the week, despite being the Only Sane Man.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • In "Stripes", when a peeping tom is spotted looking into the female Yellowcoats' chalet, Gladys is convinced her fears about her half-brother Gareth's presence at the camp have been realised, and she and Spike confront him. Gladys notes that he is wearing underclothes instead of pyjamas and is breathing heavily, as though he's just been running and had to change out of his clothes in a hurry. However, Gareth claims that he accidentally left his pyjamas back home in Wales, and is simply getting to a steamy passage in the book he is reading. Gladys doesn't believe him, and has Spike escort him to the train station to get the first train out the next morning. Unfortunately, it isn't until after Gareth has gone that Gladys discovers he was telling the truth; the peeping tom was another camper.
    • "Marriage Settlement" is bookended by two incidents of things not being what they look like.
      • As the episode begins, Peggy tells Gladys that Jeffrey is in his office with his wife, Daphne, and while she does not hear their entire conversation, she hears them say that if Daphne had come down sooner, they could have saved a lot of legal fees. She then sees Jeffrey escort Daphne to her car and kiss her goodbye, but cannot hear their conversation. She assumes from what she sees as their affectionate behaviour that they have reconciled, and becomes inconsolable. However, the reality is that Jeffrey has agreed to give Daphne grounds for divorce so that she can re-marry, and the kiss goodbye was his final farewell to her, as she tells him that they are unlikely to meet again, even in court.
      • Jeffrey later tells Peggy that he is engaging the services of a professional co-respondent to give Daphne grounds for divorce. He explains that although the night he will be spending with the woman will be purely platonic, someone must see them in bed together and sign a statement to that effect, and the resulting "adultery" will give the required grounds for divorce, and he wants Peggy to be the witness, swearing her to secrecy. However, Peggy decides she can't let Gladys go on thinking Jeffrey is going back to his wife and tells her. A combination of Gladys' disapproval of Jeffrey's method (partly as he didn't ask her to be co-respondent) and a case of food poisoning he picks up when he takes the co-respondent out for dinner before they spend the night together leads to the episode's final scene in which Gladys, the female Yellowcoats, and a curious Yvonne end up in Jeffrey's room administering his medicine when Peggy arrives - and interprets the scene before her as the platonic equivalent of an orgy. She casually asks Jeffrey which of them she should identify as the co-respondent.
  • 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.)
  • Present-Day Past: The show started in 1980 - Jeff can be seen wearing flared trousers in some scenes, and the girl Yellowcoats wear shorts (and sometimes skirts) that are anachronistically short.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In Series 1-5, four actors were billed in the opening credits, namely Simon Cadell, Paul Shane, Ruth Madoc, and Jeffrey Holland in that order; following Cadell's departure, the other three were moved up a spot and the fourth spot was given to Su Pollard.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Leslie Dwyer, who played Punch and Judy man Mr. Partridge, left midway during production of Series 6 due to health problems with his character only appearing in that series in location footage. The following series saw his character written out when what appeared to be his dead body was found floating in a swimming pool with a knife sticking out of its back, only for it to be revealed that he'd staged his own death and gone to live with a pub landlady in Cornwall. He was replaced by the similar Sammy Morris, played by Kenneth Connor. Dwyer subsequently passed away during transmission of Series 8.
    • Barry. Almost a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome because, although we know he ran away from Yvonne and his job, we never find out why or where he went.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Invoked in "The Perils of Peggy", as part of a Zany Scheme to make Clive appear heroic by rescuing Peggy from a (faked) quicksand pit. Once Gladys realises what's going on, she storms off and promptly ends up just as deep in genuine quicksand.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Jeffrey goes out of his way to be scrupulously fair. He quickly discovers that there's no way to please everyone (especially when Ted is gung-ho about doing many activities and routines with which Barry and Yvonne want no part whatsoever), but he does what he can to please as many of his employees as possible.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Although Gladys' attempts at flirting with Jeffrey were only ever met with discomfort, she got more of a reaction out of Clive, and they became engaged in Series 7. Clive spends a large part of the next two series trying to back out of the engagement and Gladys threatens to break it off several times and actually does so once, but they eventually realise they do love each other in spite of any doubts they may have, and they are married in the pentultimate episode of the series.
  • Right in Front of Me: In the pilot episode, Ted and Spike share a train compartment with Jeffrey on their way to Crimpton-on-Sea and, having no idea who he is, grouse about how the Entertainments Manager job should have been given to Ted and what a sham it is that it has been given to an archaeology professor; Jeffrey looks perturbed, but says nothing. Later, he calls a meeting of the entire entertainment staff, and Ted and Spike are horrified to see that the man in front of whom they were badmouthing their new boss-to-be is their new boss-to-be.
  • Right Now Montage: In "Desire in the Mickey Mouse Grotto", the opening scenes of the episode involve the cast being woken up and going through their morning routine.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: Ted does this in order to prevent Clive's relatives from getting to the church in time to stop Clive and Gladys' wedding.
  • Rule #1: Ted gives Spike various tips on how to improve his routines, and each one is always "First rule of comedy".
  • Serial Escalation: The episode "Stripes" gets its title from the two military-style extra rings Gladys puts on the sleeves of her yellow blazer after Joe Maplin orders that she be put in charge of the other Yellowcoats. Determined not to look ordinary next to Gladys, Yvonne and Barry put three extra rings on their sleeves, while Mr Partridge points out to Fred that he's in charge of twice as many horses as Gladys is Yellowcoats, so Fred puts four extra rings on his sleeves. Ted tops them all by taking to the stage for the Holiday Princess competition with eight extra rings on his sleeves to show the others how ridiculous they're being.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the pilot episode, "Hey Diddle Diddle", Ted tells Spike he has been for an audition in Manchester for a new TV series about a group of people who all live "in the same mucky street". Though he doesn't name it, he is clearly referring to Coronation Street, which began airing in the year in which the first five series of Hi-De-Hi! are set, 1959.
    • In the final scene of "Nice People with Nice Manners", Ted and Spike are spending their day off having a picnic by the pond featured in John Constable's painting The Hay Wain. Spike tells Ted that Constable painted the house by the pond (Willy Lott's Cottage); Ted remarks that it could do with another coat.
    • In "Ted at the Helm", Spike comes up with the idea of putting an ostrich puppet on his arm (with a fake arm that appears to be cradling it to disguise the fact that his real arm is operating the mouth) and having it pretend to bite people. This is a nod to former Butlins Redcoat Rod Hull's Emu puppet, which Hull also used to "attack" anyone within reach.
    • In "Opening Day", everyone is anxiously waiting at the railway station.
  • Show Some Leg: One of the main purposes of the female Yellowcoats. Used both in-story, especially in Zany Schemes, and also for the viewer.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: Jeffrey is The Square, Ted is The Wisecracker, Clive is The Charmer, Peggy is The Goofball.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Ted is a working class Yorkshireman and proud of his roots, and regularly clashes with Yvonne and Barry, who, despite being from middle class backgrounds at best (Yvonne's father was a department store floorwalker, Barry's was a bus inspector), think themselves superior to everyone except Jeffrey and Clive. Ted usually wins their confrontations thanks to his easy-going nature and keener sense of what the campers enjoy.
  • 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.
  • Stiff Upper Lip:
    • Definitely Jeffrey, while he's not above getting flustered and showing misery, in a genuine emergency he's able to keep calm and think logically. Perhaps best displayed in "Carnival Time" where, due to an accident, a float catches fire with Gladys tied up upon it. Jeffrey's response is to simply jump onto the float and cut her loose, then later jump back onto the float to release the brake so they can pull it into the pool before the fire spreads.
    • Definitely not Clive, who is much quicker to anger than his predecessor and less capable in a crisis (despite his bomber pilot background).
  • Stock British Characters: Clive Dempster is the Upper Class RAF Officer.
  • 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:
    • Played straight with Mr Partridge and Sammy Morris - both are lazy alcoholics who dislike children, despite being children's entertainers.
    • Julian is a narrow aversion: he's not without his airs and graces, but is nowhere near being the snob Barry was, probably due to his mucky other job.
  • The Team Wannabe: From the very first episode, Peggy's character arc is largely defined by her desperation to join the Yellowcoats; she's nearly always present for entertainment staff meetings despite Gladys repeatedly pointing out that she isn't a Yellowcoat, and she eagerly volunteers for the Zany Scheme or daft performance of the moment in the hopes of improving her chances of joining the team. She finally succeeds in the last episode when Dawn is taken ill and Clive decides, over Gladys' scepticism, that it's high time Peggy was given her dream.
  • 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.
  • Time-Compression Montage: In the first episode, "Hey Diddle Diddle", the first week of the season is depicted with a montage of advertisements for the various evening events, photos of said events, and a few shots of Gladys reading announcements over Radio Maplin. The montage features two Running Gags in the form of shots of Spike being thrown in the pool in various costumes and the photos of the evening events always featuring everyone smiling and enjoying themselves... except Jeffrey, who always looks as though he'd rather be anywhere else.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: In "Nice People with Nice Manners", Barry and Yvonne throw a black tie soirée in their chalet after the campers have gone to bed, and only invite fellow entertainment staffers whom they believe will behave themselves. However, Peggy accidentally throws the invitations away, remembering only that one was for Jeffrey; the unpretentious Jeffrey is sure they would have invited the entire entertainment staff (in reality, the guest list pointedly excluded Gladys, Ted, Fred, Mr Partridge, Sylvia, and Garynote ) and tells Peggy to deliver the invitations verbally. In doing so, Peggy gets carried away and claims that the party is a pyjama party, so that although Jeffrey and Gladys arrive in evening wear, the others show up in nightwear except for Ted, who is dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, and Spike, who is dressed as a comedy priest.
  • 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.)
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: The outdoor scenes were shot on film on location in a Warners holiday camp near Dovercourt in Essex and at Mill Rythe Holiday Village near Rayling Island in Hampshire, while the indoor scenes (apart from the Hawaiian Ballroom) were shot on videotape on studio sets.
  • 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.
    • In "Graven Image", Spike gets completely blind drunk during a "mystery tour" (really a pub crawl) led by Ted, who berates him for having spent the whole evening ranting in front of the campers about how much he hates Joe Maplin for his arrogance and hypocrisy, exemplified by a statue of himself he has had installed in each camp to be unveiled simultaneously the next morning. On the morning of the unveiling, a still angry Ted tells a badly hung over Spike that he was in and out of the chalet a dozen times during the night, and Spike is confused to find wet paint all over his hands that has not come off after a shower. He gets his answer of what he did the previous night when Ted drills Jeffrey on the actual moment of unveiling - and the statue is revealed to be painted to look like a clown.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: In "Eruptions", Ted is venting to Jeffrey after a bad performance the previous night, and Gladys insists he's exaggerating. Ted does not take this lightly, leading to a bad impersonation of her that completely mangles her Welsh accent:
    Ted: It's all right for you! All you have to do is sit at the mike in Radio Maplin and say, [imitating Gladys' accent and vocal inflections - badly] "Hello campers, 'i-de-'i!"
    Gladys: [shoots Ted a Death Glare] I don't speak like that! I'm not Indian!
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Most of the younger Yellowcoats are hoping that their jobs at Maplins will catapult them to stardom (in much the same way a variety of real life singers, actors, and comedians got their start as Butlins Redcoats, Pontins Bluecoats, or Warners Greencoats), none more so than Spike, whose naiveté is such that he thinks a rejection letter Ted received from an audition at Granada Studios (implied to be for Coronation Street) is serious about keeping him in mind for future productions.
  • Work Com: The series is set among the employees of a holiday camp, and focuses on the travails of their day-to-day and personal lives as new groups of holidaymakers come and go, with episodes only occasionally leaving the setting of the camp.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Peggy, who loves to describe current goings-on in the camp as events in a Film Noir set in the USA.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Peggy's dream of becoming a Yellowcoat is finally granted in the series finalenote , 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 re-vamp for the following season... and as part of this re-vamp, the Yellowcoats and other entertainers are being sacked en masse.