This very popular and long-running BBC sitcom aired between 1982 and 1992. The 1980s series was written by the legendary Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft (Croft also composed the theme music), with Paul Adam taking over from Croft for the 1991 and 1992 series. There was no series in 1990.
The setting was a small cafe in the town of Novion in Nazi-occupied France, and the storyline revolved around the complex life of its owner, René Artois, who was played by Gordon Kaye.
Typically for a Lloyd and Croft comedy there were many strong characters with very memorable catchphrases.
René (Gordon Kaye) struggled to juggle his alliances with the Germans and the resistance, with the latter forcing him to hide two British airmen, Fairfax and Carstairs, in his cafe. He unwillingly worked for the female de gaulle resistance which was led by the beret-wearing Michelle Dubios (Kirsten Cooke). She threatened to shoot him if they found Germans being served in his cafe. She pretended to show affection for Rene to keep him in the resistance. Her catchphrase was "Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once".
René liked a bit of "slap and tickle" with the waitresses and was sometimes caught in an embrace with one of them by his wife, Edith Melba Artois (Carmen Silvera). She is a cabaret performer with an appalling voice, so much so that the locals are often seen blocking out her tuneless vocals by placing blocks of cheese in their ears. Edith is also pursed by the Italian Captain Alberto Bertorelli and undertaker Monsieur Alfonse.
Gordon Kaye sadly passed away on 23rd January 2017 aged 75.
Edith's mother, Fanny La Fan (Rose Hill) spent much of her time in bed in the attic. She wore one of those frilly night caps and was often banging her stick on the bedroom floor to gain attention. Her room was used for secret radio communication with the resistance and she often came out with the line "The Germans, I spit on zem" before spitting at the side of her bed.
Yvette Carte-Blanche (Vicki Michelle) was an attractive, but vain and pretentious waitress who wore revealing skirts and was in love with René. She would often throw her arms around him and growl "Ooh, René." They would often be caught by his wife, Edith, but he would always have an excuse with a sentence starting "You stupid woman!". Yvette also kept the German officers entertained with her sexy charms. Vicki Michelle is part of the line-up for the 2014 series of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" on ITV.
Another amusing character was "master of disguises" Monsieur Roger LeClerc (Jack Haig). He appeared in the first five series and was also the cafe's piano player. He was a forger for the resistance and he used his rather unconvincing disguises to obtain and sneak in useful goods to the cafe such as radio equipment and bombs.
After the death of Jack Haig in 1989, Monsieur Ernest LeClerc was his introduced to the series as the brother of Roger and was played by Derek Royle in series 6 and Robin Parkinson in series 7 to 9.
Carry-On star Kenneth Connor played the Belgian undertaker Monsieur Alfonse who was often seen trying to attract Madam Edith by giving her flowers and offering her the opportunity to live with him above the mortuary - how romantic!
Major-General Erich Von Klinkerhoffen (Hilary Minster) was the heartless commander who was often threatening to shoot the French peasants should the resistance try to attack the Germans. He lived in a majestic chateau and was chased by the serving girls who were actually part of the resistance. The only interest they had was for his sausages!
Colonel Kurt Von Strohm (Richard Marner) was the overweight, corrupt colonel who's time was taken up by hiding valuable antiques and painting which he was planning to sell after the war. He often had Rene running around after him and threatened him with the line "Othervise I Vill have you shot!" should he not comply with his demands. His assistant Captain Han Geering (Sam Kelly) would agree with him by saying "He would, he did it before." Kelly played his assistant for series 1-4 and also made a brief appearance in series 7.
Private Helga Geerhart (Kim Hartman) was the Colonel's well-built secretary and Herr Flick's lady-love, and could regularly be seen taking off her clothes and displaying her lingerie for dubious reasons!
Lieutenant Huber Gruber (Guy Siner) was a stereotypical gay man (although it was never revealed that he was actually gay) who lived in the local chateau. He was driven around in an armoured car (his driver Clarence was never seen) which her called his "little tank". Gruber had a crush on Rene who he sometimes caught in an uncomfortable, but amusing situation such as being in his underpants.
Herr Otto Flick was the emotionless Gestapo Officer who wore strange, octagonal glasses, a leather hat with a wide brim, leather gloves, and a long, leather coat over his pinstripe suit. He walked with a limp and he had a monotone voice - the only time this changed was to express his anger!
Herr Engelbert Von Smallhousen (John Louis Mansi) was Herr Flick's assistant from series 2 onwards. He dressed the same as his boss and also copied his limp, although he was only half his height.
Officer Crabtree (Arthur Bostrom) was a British spy posing as a French police officer. His most memorable catchphrase was "Good Moaning!". This character I found the most hilarious and he never failed to make me laugh with his amusing pronunciations.
Overall, 'Allo 'Allo was a very amusing and entertaining comedy series, and packed full of interesting characters whose theatrical antics certainly gave us plenty of laughs!
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