'Allo 'Allo!

From Academic Kids

'Allo 'Allo! was a British sitcom that ran on BBC1 from 1984 to 1992. It was created by David Croft, who also wrote the famous theme music, and Jeremy Lloyd, who had written gags for Laugh-In in the 1970s; they were also responsible for the BBC series Are You Being Served?.

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 about the resistance movement Secret Army, which ran from 1977 to 1979, and dealt with the activities of resistance workers based at a cafe in Brussels, though some inspiration was drawn from patriotic black-and-white British melodramas of the 1940s.

Contents

Plot

Missing image
Renee_Artois.jpg
Gorden Kaye as René Artois

Set during World War II, 'Allo 'Allo told the story of René Artois, a French cafe owner in the village of Nouvion. The village had been occupied by the Germans, who had then stolen all the valuable artifacts in the town. These included the first cuckoo clock made and a painting of The Fallen Madonna (with the big boobies) by van Klomp. The commandant of the town decides to keep them for himself after the war and gets René to hide the painting in his cafe. The Gestapo also want the painting and send Herr Flick to find it.

At the same time René is acting as a safehouse for brave but clueless downed British airmen. He is forced to work with the Resistance, who would otherwise shoot him for serving Germans in his cafe. The farfetched plans of the Resistance to get the airmen back to England, which always fail, are one of the main running gags of the series.

René is also trying to have affairs with his two waitresses without his wife discovering. Also, the Communist Resistance, consisting of all women, wants a piece of René for serving Germans and working with the other Resistance. The only reason that René isn't shot by them is that their leader is in love with him, a fact he has to hide from his wife and waitresses. Not to mention his troubles with German lieutenant Grueber, a homosexual Nazi who also has an eye on him.

René's wife in the meantime, is getting proposals from monsieur Alphonse, the village undertaker, who is torn between his love for her and his admiration for René as a true hero of France.

These few plot devices provided the basic storyline throughout the entire series, on which were hung classic farce setups, physical comedy and sight gags, fake theatrical foreign accents, and a fast-paced running string of broad cultural clichés, which owed something to Monty Python. Each episode ran on from the previous ones, often requiring that the previous episode be also watched. Fortunately, René would inform the viewer as to what had previously transpired, in a gag based on a threadbare device ("As you remember...") of second-rate serials. Unfortunately in re-runs, local TV stations have shuffled the episodes as they do not realise that AA is a continuous series, making the ridiculous plot synoposes quite necessary.

Languages

With four different languages (French, German, Italian and English) spoken by the characters, representing this to the audience could have been tricky. The program uses the masterful device of representing each language with English spoken in an overblown parody accent.

An exchange in "French", or English dripping with stage-frenchman accent, is totally incomprehensible to the English airmen until Michelle switches to Bertie-Wooster-esque top-hole-old-chap banter with an upperclass English accent. On top of this there is the English officer Crabtree, in the permanent disguise of a French-speaking Gendarme. His mangling of French vowels is represented by equally distorted English, most famously his customary greeting catch phrase of "Good Moaning".

However, despite the difficulties in communicating with the English characters, the French, Germans and Italians all appear to understand each other's languages perfectly.

Despite this, one episode showed two characters learning Spanish (as part of an abortive attempt at desertion) which consisted of a series of extreme exaggerations of words and accents based on English but clearly removed from the normal language.

The stage show

As well as the long running TV series, the show gave rise to a massively successful touring stage-show featuring most of the TV cast. The stage show run from 1986 to 1992, including three London stage runs as well international tours. In January 1990, Gorden Kaye was badly hurt in a car accident so in a London Palladium production was played by his understudy, John Larson, and by Australian comedian/impressionist Max Gillies when the show toured Down Under.

Cast

Character Actor
René Francois ArtoisGorden Kaye
Edith Melba ArtoisCarmen Silvera
Madame Fanny La Fan (Edith's mother)
Rose Hill
Yvette Carte-BlancheVicki Michelle
Maria Recamier (series 1-3)Francesca Gonshaw
Mimi Labonq (series 4-9)Sue Hodge
Michelle "of the Resistance" DuboisKirsten Cooke
Monsieur Roger Leclerc (series 1-5)Jack Haig
Monsieur Ernest Leclerc (series 6-9)Derek Royle (series 6)
Robin Parkinson (series 7-9)
Monsieur AlphonseKenneth Connor
Colonel Von StrohmRichard Marner
Lieutenant Hubert GruberGuy Siner
Captain Hans Geering (series 1-4)Sam Kelly
Captain Alberto Bertorelli (series 4-7)Gavin Richards (series 4-6)
Roger Kitter (series 7)
Private Helga GeerhartKim Hartman
Herr Otto FlickRichard Gibson (series 1-8)
David Janson (Series 9)
Herr Engelbert Von Smallhausen (series 2-9)John Louis Mansi
Officer (Captain) Crabtree (series 2-9)Arthur Bostrom
RAF Flight Lt. Fairfax (series 1-7)John D. Collins
RAF Flight Lt. Carstairs (series 1-7)Nicholas Frankau

External links

fr:Allô Allô nl:'Allo 'Allo no:'Allo 'Allo! pl:'Allo 'Allo! pt:'Allo 'Allo! sv:'allå, 'allå, 'emliga armén

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