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‘What’s the word then?....’

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet - Behind The Scenes Series 2. Gary Holton Tribute by Richard Smith. Find out more about Gary Holton, with exclusive pictures and information - Gary Holton Tribute Site. © The images and text are copyright of awpet.com and are not to be used or copied without permission
Whether you know him as the Heavy Metal Kid, or Wayne Winston Norris, Gary Frederick Holton was the business and he certainly lived the rock'n'roll lifestyle, appeared on Top of the Pops, sold more records than the Beatles (In Norway!) raised funds for charity and still found time to work behind the bar of his Dad's pub in Welshpool! Gary was born on 22 September 1952 in Clapham Common, London. He was a talented child who played a variety of musical instruments in school bands, and his big break came when he was picked by talent-spotters who were auditioning children for parts in "Quartermass & the Pit". From here he went onto work with the Old Vic Theatre Company and The Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford and his small stature lead to him being chosen for parts partly due to his size as he was small enough to fit inside several parts of the stage set to make them move around the stage as if by magic! At 17 Gary joined the touring musical "Hair" until the production reached London and his two-year stay on the show finished. From 1972 to 1978 Gary fronted the original punk rockers, Heavy Metal Kids, after being persuaded to leave his own bands Biggles. The HMK released three albums over their six years together, broke the Jimi Hendrix's crowd attendance record at the famous Marquee club and generally left a trail of mayhem behind them wherever played on tour. When Gary arrived at the hotel he would unzip his suitcase, tip the contents on the floor, say: "Right, I'm at home now!" and then would head out onto the balcony to cast a critical eye over the girls in the swimming pool below... And you may have wondered if Gary really was like Wayne... Gary's first major film role was playing "Ken" in Bloody Kids. It was here that Gary tried his hand at stunt driving in the famous BMW joy-riding scene on the streets of Southend...unfortunately he crashed and wrote the car off! Further TV and silverscreen roles followed in Shoestring, The Gentle Touch and Minder to name but a few...Gary's roles weren't too diverse, but when asked if he was worried about becoming typecast he replied: "Well, ya never outta work are ya?". You can't argue with that. Along came a role in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet after a chance meeting with Ian La Frenais. Gary's girlfriend Sue Harrison was attending a childrens' birthday party and Gary tagged along. After a drink or five, Gary approached Ian (much to the amusement of the other guests) and began to tell him just exactly why he'd be perfect for a role in La Frenais' new TV programme. The following day Gary's phone rang and a voice at the other end said: "If you remember me, and if you've sobered up, why don't you come down and audition?". The rest is history... No matter who your favourite Auf Wiedersehen, Pet character is, Wayne surely appears in most fans' favourite moment from Series 1 where he takes on the fruitless task of teaching Barry the ways of the opposite sex...only for Barry to fluff his lines and invite the two Fräuleins "Back to our hut"... Gary's reacting, for me, is just as funny as Tim's acting. Gary may sadly have left us just a month after his 33rd birthday, and I'm probably not alone in wondering what Gary would have achieved if his life hadn't tragically ended on 25 October 1985, but his time on this earth couldn't be summed up better than one of his own quotes during a conversation with his old "Heavy Metal Kids" band mate Ronnie Thomas: If you'd had half the life I'd had...