Martin McKeand: 'A Haze of Beer and Schnapps Fumes...’ Part One.

Series producer of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Martin McKeand has written a piece for the Fansite to celebrate 35 extraordinary years of Britain’s #1 ITV Comedy Drama! From those first memories in Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Elstree to those final scenes shot on the back of a Yacht in Marbella. with his good friend and AWP director Roger Bamford. We were so excited about Martin getting involved that this is the first of several pieces that he’s kindly agreed to write for the Official Fansite! Copyright: The following images, articles and text are copyright awpet.com. Site Release Date: 11th November 2018

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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2018
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First, it's extraordinary to think it is 35 years since all that happened! Of course though some memories are crystal clear some are lost in a haze of beer and schnapps fumes. And as someone once said of the sixties, "If you can remember them you weren't there". The first image that always comes to my mind is from those early days of location shooting in Hamburg, in a rather luxurious hotel bar, Jimmy Nail musing aloud: "Amazing really, me, a humble welder, plucked from obscurity and surrounded by glamorous boilers." This line not written by Clement or La Frenais, but from the man who later created and wrote "Spender". And there was the occasion when for some reason the armed Hamburg police decided to raid the hotel where most of the cast and crew were staying, looking for some miscreant  who was wisely hiding out in a cupboard in Ray Winstone's room. Ray had a part in only one episode ("The Fugitive") but because of the way shooting is scheduled, he became an almost permanent cast member. Ray of course has gone on to become one of the UK's leading actors, specialising in "hard man" roles, but in real life he was a friendly and jovial member of the gang. Then there was the occasion when somebody brought two ladies of the night back to the hotel with him. To the night porter's protests he replied: "I don't see what your problem is, pal, it's me who's got to f**k 'em, not you". After which I was called into the hotel manager's office. "In our country people who make films are artists, civilised people. This does not seem to be true of some of your group. I must ask you all to leave." Fortunately after much discussion we were allowed to stay. This of course was after the very first day of shooting which occurred on the Harwich - Hook of Holland ferry, where we see Neville penning the first of his "Dear Brenda" postcards. Neville (Kevin Whately) almost hadn't made the boat - he had called the production office two days before asking "Do I need a passport to go to Europe ?" Somebody worked wonders and he was able to travel. After ten days filming in Hamburg we returned to Blighty for studio shooting in Elstree where the "German Building Site" was under construction. What used to happen was that we would rehearse scenes for a few days then go into the studio or onto the "German Building Site" to shoot them. On the first day of rehearsal everybody was there except Jimmy. Urgent calls were made, nobody had seen him. Somebody had the idea of phoning the nicks and police stations in the Newcastle area. "No, we haven't seen him for some time, it's been very quiet". I couldn't help wondering if Jimmy had had enough of acting and being surrounded by glamorous boilers, and gone back to a life of enjoyable obscurity on Tyneside. How little I knew the man. An hour later he wandered insouciantly into the rehearsal room, a train had been delayed. He was never late again. And talking of this process, rehearsing then shooting, it might happen that we might rehearse a scene some time before it was shot. And here I pay tribute to my friend and colleague, director Roger Bamford, who had the most phenomenal memory. When shooting a scene on a boat in Marbella, Spain, he said to an actor "But in the rehearsal (three months ago in England) you moved from here to here, and paused a second before you said the line."  A great director, all actors loved him. Without him it would have been a different and probably less interesting show. And talking of the strange way in which filming is scheduled, there is a scene where Barry goes through a door, and emerges on the other side two stone heavier. Maybe 'The Fansite Team' will offer a prize to whoever spots it. But I see we are only into the first month of production, and if I go on at this rate I might as well write a book. But who would read it ? When I met people for the first time and they asked what I have done they would say "That's a terrific show, I love it". Then later: "My Mam and Dad really loved that show" and more recently "My Grandma really used to love it". But in the words of Samuel Beckett ( now he could have written some great AWP scripts ) "Try again but better ". When the first series was finished, the people who ran Central Television decided they didn't like it. We had been promised a cover and major promotion in the TV Times. Instead we got a short column inside the paper, but still 6 million people watched it. Then after six weeks the series was taken off and turgid drama with a very strongly feminist story line was put on in its place - for what purpose I know not. Anyway as it turned out we had been done a favour, when we were put on again word was out and our viewing figures were now 15 million plus. Unthinkable in these days. Meanwhile the same f**kwits at Central Television were too nervous to commit to another series. This gives rise to another story which actually became part of a lawsuit bought by Jimmy Nail against the News of the World. Throughout the first series Jimmy had worn a leather jacket provided by the wardrobe department. At the end of production, and because Central hadn't committed to a second series,the wardrobe department had a sale. Jimmy bought the jacket. This for some reason got turned into some vile "Jimmy Nail Greed" piece in the 'News of the World' along with various other stories, and Jimmy took them to court and won. It was Central's nervousness which led to the long delay between series one and two. By the time they were ready, the actors had mostly got involved in other projects and it took nearly two years to get everything together again. Plus, we had burned down "the hut", and it was no longer appropriate to set the show in Germany. So Clement, La Frenais, Roger Bamford, Stan Hey and I set off for the "Costa del Crime" to see what there was to see down there. See Stan's piece here written a little time back for a description of that trip. My main memory is that it rained pretty well all the time we were down there, not a promising start to series two...... The Auf Wiedersehen, Pet team would personally like to thank Martin for taking the time to write for the Official Fansite.

Martin McKeand: 'A Haze of Beer and Schnapps

Fumes...’ Part One.

Series producer of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Martin McKeand has written a piece for the Fansite to celebrate 35 extraordinary years of Britain’s #1 ITV Comedy Drama! From those first memories in Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Elstree to those final scenes shot on the back of a Yacht in Marbella. with his good friend and AWP director Roger Bamford. We were so excited about Martin getting involved that this is the first of several pieces that he’s kindly agreed to write for the Official Fansite! Copyright: The following images, articles and text are copyright awpet.com. Site Release Date: 11th November 2018
Do you have something to add? If you have something to add, whether it be pictures, a magazine interview or something else, we would love to have it on the Fansite! Please use the Contact link above in the navigation bar and Email us.
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First, it's extraordinary to think it is 35 years since all that happened! Of course though some memories are crystal clear some are lost in a haze of beer and schnapps fumes. And as someone once said of the sixties, "If you can remember them you weren't there". The first image that always comes to my mind is from those early days of location shooting in Hamburg, in a rather luxurious hotel bar, Jimmy Nail musing aloud: "Amazing really, me, a humble welder, plucked from obscurity and surrounded by glamorous boilers." This line not written by Clement or La Frenais, but from the man who later created and wrote "Spender". And there was the occasion when for some reason the armed Hamburg police decided to raid the hotel where most of the cast and crew were staying, looking for some miscreant  who was wisely hiding out in a cupboard in Ray Winstone's room. Ray had a part in only one episode ("The Fugitive") but because of the way shooting is scheduled, he became an almost permanent cast member. Ray of course has gone on to become one of the UK's leading actors, specialising in "hard man" roles, but in real life he was a friendly and jovial member of the gang. Then there was the occasion when somebody brought two ladies of the night back to the hotel with him. To the night porter's protests he replied: "I don't see what your problem is, pal, it's me who's got to f**k 'em, not you". After which I was called into the hotel manager's office. "In our country people who make films are artists, civilised people. This does not seem to be true of some of your group. I must ask you all to leave." Fortunately after much discussion we were allowed to stay. This of course was after the very first day of shooting which occurred on the Harwich - Hook of Holland ferry, where we see Neville penning the first of his "Dear Brenda" postcards. Neville (Kevin Whately) almost hadn't made the boat - he had called the production office two days before asking "Do I need a passport to go to Europe...?" Somebody worked wonders and he was able to travel. After ten days filming in Hamburg we returned to Blighty for studio shooting in Elstree where the "German Building Site" was under construction. What used to happen was that we would rehearse scenes for a few days then go into the studio or onto the "German Building Site" to shoot them. On the first day of rehearsal everybody was there except Jimmy. Urgent calls were made, nobody had seen him. Somebody had the idea of phoning the nicks and police stations in the Newcastle area. "No, we haven't seen him for some time, it's been very quiet". I couldn't help wondering if Jimmy had had enough of acting and being surrounded by glamorous boilers, and gone back to a life of enjoyable obscurity on Tyneside. How little I knew the man. An hour later he wandered insouciantly into the rehearsal room, a train had been delayed. He was never late again. And talking of this process, rehearsing then shooting, it might happen that we might rehearse a scene some time before it was shot. And here I pay tribute to my friend and colleague, director Roger Bamford, who had the most phenomenal memory. When shooting a scene on a boat in Marbella, Spain, he said to an actor "But in the rehearsal (three months ago in England) you moved from here to here, and paused a second before you said the line."  A great director, all actors loved him. Without him it would have been a different and probably less interesting show. And talking of the strange way in which filming is scheduled, there is a scene where Barry goes through a door, and emerges on the other side two stone heavier. Maybe 'The Fansite Team' will offer a prize to whoever spots it. But I see we are only into the first month of production, and if I go on at this rate I might as well write a book. But who would read it ? When I met people for the first time and they asked what I have done they would say "That's a terrific show, I love it". Then later: "My Mam and Dad really loved that show" and more recently "My Grandma really used to love it". But in the words of Samuel Beckett ( now he could have written some great AWP scripts ) "Try again but better ". When the first series was finished, the people who ran Central Television decided they didn't like it. We had been promised a cove rand major promotion in the TV Times. Instead we got a short column inside the paper, but still 6 million people watched it. Then after six weeks the series was taken off and turgid drama with a very strongly feminist story line was put on in its place - for what purpose I know not. Anyway as it turned out we had been done a favour, when we were put on again word was out and our viewing figures were now 15 million plus. Unthinkable in these days. Meanwhile the same f**kwits at Central Television were too nervous to commit to another series. This gives rise to another story which actually became part of a lawsuit bought by Jimmy Nail against the News of the World. Throughout the first series Jimmy had worn a leather jacket provided by the wardrobe department. At the end of production, and because Central hadn't committed to a second series,the wardrobe department had a sale. Jimmy bought the jacket. This for some reason got turned into some vile "Jimmy Nail Greed" piece in the 'News of the World' along with various other stories, and Jimmy took them to court and won. It was Central's nervousness which led to the long delay between series one and two. By the time they were ready, the actors had mostly got involved in other projects and it took nearly two years to get everything together again. Plus, we had burned down "the hut", and it was no longer appropriate to set the show in Germany. So Clement, La Frenais, Roger Bamford, Stan Hey and I set off for the "Costa del Crime" to see what there was to see down there. See Stan's piece written here a little time back for a description of that trip. My main memory is that it rained pretty well all the time we were down there, not a promising start to series two...... The Auf Wiedersehen, Pet team would personally like to thank Martin for taking the time to write for the Fansite.
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2018