‘I’ve got a question here....’

Exclusive interviews with the cast & crew who worked on Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. From Stan Hey to Bill Paterson and many more. This section is forever expanding with new interviews, so check back often for new content. The fansite would like to thank the Cast & Crew for taking time out of the busy schedules to answer our questions. Copyright: Images, articles and text are copyright awpet.com. Acknowledgement: The Cast & Crew

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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2016
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Q. How did you first get involved with Auf Wiedersehen, Pet? Was it something you went looking for, or were you approached by Ian and  Dick? A. I got involved with ‘AWP’ because I’d co-written the pilot for a comedy series in 1982. It was commissioned by Witzend, Dick and Ian’s  production company, managed by Allan McKeown. My co-writer, Andrew Nickolds and I, had written two series of the LWT comedy ‘Agony’ in  1979/80, and had also written a comedy pilot about two young musicians in the 1960s, made by ATV, which later became Central Television – I  think Witzend had seen this, The Witzend pilot was based on a 1960’s hair-dresser, exactly what McKeown had been, though he later moved on  to be stylist for movies – look for his name on the end-credits of ‘Get Carter’!  The pilot, ‘A Cut Above’ was recorded in Birmingham in 1982 – unfortunately it took place on the day that Argentina invaded the Falklands so the  audience that came to watch was very far from wanting a good laugh. The pilot got turned down by Central, the only success being McKeown  bagging off with the actress Tracey Ullman who’d been the co-star. They married not long after. Ten months later I got a call from Allan to come to  his office and have a look at a series they were doing that needed additional writers. It was a Saturday morning, a misty February, and there it  was in a cassette – some very rough, unedited, footage of ‘The Lads’ on a German building site (in Elstree, as is well known). Dick and Ian had  started it after Franc Roddam  had  told them about all his mates going abroad to find jobs – Geoffrey Howe’s 1981 budget put three million  people on the dole, it should be remembered.  Central had commissioned the series (13 episodes - impossible today) but Dick and Ian were falling behind because Dick had gone off to direct  ‘Water’, a film they’d written. Over liver and onions in a Notting Hill restaurant Allan asked me if I was interested and if I could come up with an  idea for an episode. All the main characters – Oz, Dennis, Neville, Barry, Wayne – had been fleshed out but Bomber didn’t have a story so far, so I  suggested doing one about his daughter running away from home to be with her dad. I talked it through in a meeting with Ian and producer Martin  McKeand, and they asked me to get on with it. I am a Liverpudlian by birth and upbringing and had never been to Newcastle but I had Geordie friends at university and could do/write the accent.  Bomber was West County anyway. The script (‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’, Episode 5)  was recorded a couple of months later. Then in mid- May I got another call – could I write the last episode of the series? In ten days..... Q. The first series is one of the most popular, did you have a favourite episode which you wrote for that series? A. Writing ‘When the Boat Goes Out’ was a great responsibility, and a big thrill. I’ve looked in my diary and I started on Monday May 23rd  -  vowing not to drink at all during the writing – and delivered the script on Wednesday June 1st. There was so much stuff to get in – all the  romances; who was staying on in Germany, who was going home; Neville’s tattoo; where next, etc. But because of that, and what Dick and Ian  had set up, it became fairly clear what needed to happen to each character. I borrowed from Tony Hancock’s ‘Blood Donor’ for Oz’s finale in the  hospital. So the story flowed – the read- through, with the actors, took place just two days later on June 3rd. Q. When writing ‘When The Boat Goes Out’, did you have any alternative endings apart from the hut burning down? Dan Slider, The Forum. A. There is a lot of arguments on how the hut burning down came about – on the ‘Drama Connections’ programme Dick blamed me for doing it,  which is just ridiculous, partly because a novice writer wouldn’t have the power to make a decision like that, and partly because Ian was in the  meeting when that ending was decided upon. There were two realities in play – Central had sold the Elstree site to the BBC, who wanted it as the  base for a new soap opera (East Enders, and later Holby City), so the building site was going to be bull-dozed soon anyway. The other reality,  acknowledged in the script, was that the ‘casual labour’ market in the German construction industry had ended, and all ‘gastarbeiten’ (overseas  workers) had to register and pay tax. So we couldn’t return to the building site either fictionally or practically. There was a meeting with Ian, Martin  and director Roger Bamford and myself – after a lot of chat, the fire became the best idea and I remember Ian shouting ‘That’s it, the hut has got  to go! The hut must burn!’. As it turned out, I thought it was a spectacular, and funny end to the series – it was filmed on June 22nd 1983.  Q. Was there a feeling of there only being 1 series, or did everyone think this was a run away success, and a second series was a definite? A. The other reality at the time was that Central’s drama department had decided they didn’t really think much of the show and had not  commissioned a second series. So burning the hut was partially a ‘f*** you’ to them. Everybody was about to go their separate ways. Of course,  come the autumn when the show went out, 14 millions viewers started tuning in and Central had to start thinking about a u-turn. Their original  decision not to go ahead with a second series explains the three- year gap between Series 1 and 2.  Q. Did you have more fun writing for series 1, which was based around separate stories, or series 2, which was a full story over 13  episodes? A. It took well over 18 months to sort out new contracts for the actors who, as famous faces, could now ask for a considerable rise in their fees. Various meetings/lunches took place to decide where the new series should be set. Series 1 had a unique flavour – working in squalor overseas – and we thought hard how that could be re-created. There was talk of going to the Falklands to rebuild it after the war; going to Saudi Arabia where there was no drink and few available women; staying at home; and going out to Spain, because there was a lot of stuff at the time about British criminals living there with immunity. In truth, we were all a bit stuck – nothing could replace the special appeal of the site and the hut. But as I’d now been invited onto the show as a team member, not just a David Fairclough-style substitute, I had some input in the story- lining. I was assigned Episodes 5-7, all at Thornley Manor, and could see that recreating ‘hut squalor’ could be achieved by making the lads stay there while they were rebuilding it, because no pub or hotel in the area would put them up. I came up with ‘Arthur’ the Nazi landlord as their lead opponent. There had also been a ‘recce’ to Spain in February 1985, with Dick, Ian, Martin and Roger, which wasn’t much fun – running across the real-life crims in their English style bars, rooted in an East End lifestyle despite the sun and sangria. Q. What was the general feeling in the camp going into the second series, was it one of excitement? Worry that it wouldn't live up to the heights of the first? or a bit of both? Dale83 , The Forum. A. So, all in all, it was tough getting the collective mojo working on the second series – the difficult second album. But we had some great actors on the team, and their established characters had a lot of mileage in them. This was probably why the drama became more of a serial – we had fewer ‘events’ and ‘plots’ but more time to extend and enjoy the characters. Q. Did you ever visit any of the locations, or lads while filming? A. Series 2 was split between England and Spain, nine and four respectively. I was able to go on location more easily in England, than in Spain (expenses) and went to Nottingham – where the new Carlton company was based – on several occasions. I mostly remember being on site for the big punch-up between the lads and Ally’s enforcers. I did go to Spain a couple of times – most notably when the lads wandered into the exclusive Marbella Club, surprising a very unamused Chelsea FC chairman Ken Bates. I should mention that in the recce, we all went into Puerto Banus one night, but as driver Roger got to the main highway, he looked the wrong way and was about to drive out in front of a large container lorry when we screamed at him to stop – another two seconds and it would have been ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ for Dick, Ian, Martin, Roger, me and any more AWPs. Q. How was it that ideas and clever writing came up so quickly after we found out Gary had passed? Tim Wagstaff, The Forum. A. Gary’s death was a shock but not exactly a total surprise – he lived the rock-n’roll lifestyle even as an actor, just ask the Nottingham housewives he’d go off to see during breaks in shooting. His death happened after we’d finished shooting in Spain, so there was no possibility of writing/editing him out. We all sat down for several days looking at the scenes still to be shot in England which had Wayne in them. Some of the rewriting was relatively easy – we had ‘Wayne’ on film in Spain going into a club, then dodging off to the loo, or to see a girl as we shot the interior scenes in the Lenton Lane Studios in Nottingham. We did use a ‘stunt double’ where necessary. We all had to work on it – writers, directors and especially the continuity department. It was a sombre business. Q. Did you have a favourite character, one that you particularly enjoyed writing for? A. All the characters were enjoyable to write for, because the actors were so good and supportive. ‘Bomber’ and ‘Moxey’ were a bit neglected at first but we extended their stories as we went along. Oz was the funniest to write for, simply because Jimmy was game for most things, and happy to play the comic thug but providing Tim Spall’s ‘Barry’ with his little speeches about life were a great joy. Kevin has gone on to great success because he’s our ‘Henry Fonda’, noble, strong, fighting for the weak. I hear that Jimmy is doing a musical with Sting! Q. Do you have any stories/scenes/episodes that didn't make it on screen that you can share with us? A. I think you could have guessed by now that over 26 episodes, anything that got cut first time round would almost always find a home in another episode, so there wasn’t much scrap material left behind. I think I did something in one episode about Neville taking guitar lessons but making it look like he was visiting a brothel – it was patched into another episode that ran short. Q. Did you enjoy the latest series back in 2002/04? Would you have created a different storyline, and if so, what would you have liked to have seen the lads doing? A. I watched the revivals and thought the lads were fantastic – there simply hasn’t been a greater team of actors in British drama, in my biased opinion. Because of the gap between the old and new series I could watch the later ones dispassionately, and just enjoy them as a punter. I never really thought, ‘oh, that should have been better’, because my involvement had long gone. Q. And finally, what are you working on now? A. Current work involves developing a drama set in the ship-broking world of Liverpool – another workplace drama! I’m also trying to sell my film script about Marvin Gaye living in England with an old aristo lady for a year. Most recent credits were three ‘Dalziel and Pascoe’ films. But I’m touched to me remembered for my work on ‘AWP’, of which I will always be proud. Many thanks to Stan Hey for answering a few questions. © The text & images are copyright awpet.com and are not to be used or copied without permission.

Stan Hey - 10 Questions...

Back in 2012, I sent out a message on Twitter, Facebook and the Forum telling how Stan Hey, writer of episodes from Series 1 & 2 of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, had agreed to answer fan questions. Stan Hey was the writer of episodes, ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’ & ‘When The Boat Goes Out’ from series 1. He also wrote some of the fans favourite episodes from Series 2, 'A Home From Home' 'Cowboys' 'No Sex Please We're Brickies' and 'Law and Disorder'. Questions ranged from how he got involved with Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, to his favourite episodes and also how did they cope with Gary Holton’s death. Copyright: Images, articles and text are copyright awpet.com. Acknowledgement: Stan Hey
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.
Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2016
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Q. How did you first get involved with Auf Wiedersehen, Pet? Was it something you went looking for, or were you approached by Ian and  Dick? A. I got involved with ‘AWP’ because I’d co-written the pilot for a comedy series in 1982. It was commissioned by Witzend, Dick and Ian’s  production company, managed by Allan McKeown. My co-writer, Andrew Nickolds and I, had written two series of the LWT comedy ‘Agony’ in  1979/80, and had also written a comedy pilot about two young musicians in the 1960s, made by ATV, which later became Central Television – I  think Witzend had seen this, The Witzend pilot was based on a 1960’s hair-dresser, exactly what McKeown had been, though he later moved on  to be stylist for movies – look for his name on the end-credits of ‘Get Carter’!  The pilot, ‘A Cut Above’ was recorded in Birmingham in 1982 – unfortunately it took place on the day that Argentina invaded the Falklands so the  audience that came to watch was very far from wanting a good laugh. The pilot got turned down by Central, the only success being McKeown  bagging off with the actress Tracey Ullman who’d been the co-star. They married not long after. Ten months later I got a call from Allan to come to  his office and have a look at a series they were doing that needed additional writers. It was a Saturday morning, a misty February, and there it  was in a cassette – some very rough, unedited, footage of ‘The Lads’ on a German building site (in Elstree, as is well known). Dick and Ian had  started it after Franc Roddam  had  told them about all his mates going abroad to find jobs – Geoffrey Howe’s 1981 budget put three million  people on the dole, it should be remembered.  Central had commissioned the series (13 episodes - impossible today) but Dick and Ian were falling behind because Dick had gone off to direct  ‘Water’, a film they’d written. Over liver and onions in a Notting Hill restaurant Allan asked me if I was interested and if I could come up with an  idea for an episode. All the main characters – Oz, Dennis, Neville, Barry, Wayne – had been fleshed out but Bomber didn’t have a story so far, so I  suggested doing one about his daughter running away from home to be with her dad. I talked it through in a meeting with Ian and producer Martin  McKeand, and they asked me to get on with it. I am a Liverpudlian by birth and upbringing and had never been to Newcastle but I had Geordie friends at university and could do/write the accent.  Bomber was West County anyway. The script (‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’, Episode 5)  was recorded a couple of months later. Then in mid- May I got another call – could I write the last episode of the series? In ten days..... Q. The first series is one of the most popular, did you have a favourite episode which you wrote for that series? A. Writing ‘When the Boat Goes Out’ was a great responsibility, and a big thrill. I’ve looked in my diary and I started on Monday May 23rd  -  vowing not to drink at all during the writing – and delivered the script on Wednesday June 1st. There was so much stuff to get in – all the  romances; who was staying on in Germany, who was going home; Neville’s tattoo; where next, etc. But because of that, and what Dick and Ian  had set up, it became fairly clear what needed to happen to each character. I borrowed from Tony Hancock’s ‘Blood Donor’ for Oz’s finale in the  hospital. So the story flowed – the read-through, with the actors, took place just two days later on June 3rd. Q. When writing ‘When The Boat Goes Out’, did you have any alternative endings apart from the hut burning down? Dan Slider, The Forum. A. There is a lot of arguments on how the hut burning down came about – on the ‘Drama Connections’ programme Dick blamed me for doing it,  which is just ridiculous, partly because a novice writer wouldn’t have the power to make a decision like that, and partly because Ian was in the  meeting when that ending was decided upon. There were two realities in play – Central had sold the Elstree site to the BBC, who wanted it as the  base for a new soap opera (East Enders, and later Holby City), so the building site was going to be bull- dozed soon anyway. The other reality,  acknowledged in the script, was that the ‘casual labour’ market in the German construction industry had ended, and all ‘gastarbeiten’ (overseas  workers) had to register and pay tax. So we couldn’t return to the building site either fictionally or practically. There was a meeting with Ian, Martin  and director Roger Bamford and myself – after a lot of chat, the fire became the best idea and I remember Ian shouting ‘That’s it, the hut has got  to go! The hut must burn!’. As it turned out, I thought it was a spectacular, and funny end to the series – it was filmed on June 22nd 1983.  Q. Was there a feeling of there only being 1 series, or did everyone think this was a run away success, and a second series was a definite? A. The other reality at the time was that Central’s drama department had decided they didn’t really think much of the show and had not  commissioned a second series. So burning the hut was partially a ‘f*** you’ to them. Everybody was about to go their separate ways. Of course,  come the autumn when the show went out, 14 millions viewers started tuning in and Central had to start thinking about a u-turn. Their original  decision not to go ahead with a second series explains the three-year gap between Series 1 and 2.  Q. Did you have more fun writing for series 1, which was based around separate stories, or series 2, which was a full story over 13  episodes? A. It took well over 18 months to sort out new contracts for the actors who, as famous faces, could now ask for a considerable rise in their fees. Various meetings/lunches took place to decide where the new series should be set. Series 1 had a unique flavour – working in squalor overseas – and we thought hard how that could be re-created. There was talk of going to the Falklands to rebuild it after the war; going to Saudi Arabia where there was no drink and few available women; staying at home; and going out to Spain, because there was a lot of stuff at the time about British criminals living there with immunity. In truth, we were all a bit stuck – nothing could replace the special appeal of the site and the hut. But as I’d now been invited onto the show as a team member, not just a David Fairclough-style substitute, I had some input in the story-lining. I was assigned Episodes 5-7, all at Thornley Manor, and could see that recreating ‘hut squalor’ could be achieved by making the lads stay there while they were rebuilding it, because no pub or hotel in the area would put them up. I came up with ‘Arthur’ the Nazi landlord as their lead opponent. There had also been a ‘recce’ to Spain in February 1985, with Dick, Ian, Martin and Roger, which wasn’t much fun – running across the real-life crims in their English style bars, rooted in an East End lifestyle despite the sun and sangria. Q. What was the general feeling in the camp going into the second series, was it one of excitement? Worry that it wouldn't live up to the heights of the first? or a bit of both? Dale83 , The Forum. A. So, all in all, it was tough getting the collective mojo working on the second series – the difficult second album. But we had some great actors on the team, and their established characters had a lot of mileage in them. This was probably why the drama became more of a serial – we had fewer ‘events’ and ‘plots’ but more time to extend and enjoy the characters. Q. Did you ever visit any of the locations, or lads while filming? A. Series 2 was split between England and Spain, nine and four respectively. I was able to go on location more easily in England, than in Spain (expenses) and went to Nottingham – where the new Carlton company was based – on several occasions. I mostly remember being on site for the big punch-up between the lads and Ally’s enforcers. I did go to Spain a couple of times – most notably when the lads wandered into the exclusive Marbella Club, surprising a very unamused Chelsea FC chairman Ken Bates. I should mention that in the recce, we all went into Puerto Banus one night, but as driver Roger got to the main highway, he looked the wrong way and was about to drive out in front of a large container lorry when we screamed at him to stop – another two seconds and it would have been ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ for Dick, Ian, Martin, Roger, me and any more AWPs. Q. How was it that ideas and clever writing came up so quickly after we found out Gary had passed? Tim Wagstaff, The Forum. A. Gary’s death was a shock but not exactly a total surprise – he lived the rock-n’roll lifestyle even as an actor, just ask the Nottingham housewives he’d go off to see during breaks in shooting. His death happened after we’d finished shooting in Spain, so there was no possibility of writing/editing him out. We all sat down for several days looking at the scenes still to be shot in England which had Wayne in them. Some of the rewriting was relatively easy – we had ‘Wayne’ on film in Spain going into a club, then dodging off to the loo, or to see a girl as we shot the interior scenes in the Lenton Lane Studios in Nottingham. We did use a ‘stunt double’ where necessary. We all had to work on it – writers, directors and especially the continuity department. It was a sombre business. Q. Did you have a favourite character, one that you particularly enjoyed writing for? A. All the characters were enjoyable to write for, because the actors were so good and supportive. ‘Bomber’ and ‘Moxey’ were a bit neglected at first but we extended their stories as we went along. Oz was the funniest to write for, simply because Jimmy was game for most things, and happy to play the comic thug but providing Tim Spall’s ‘Barry’ with his little speeches about life were a great joy. Kevin has gone on to great success because he’s our ‘Henry Fonda’, noble, strong, fighting for the weak. I hear that Jimmy is doing a musical with Sting! Q. Do you have any stories/scenes/episodes that didn't make it on screen that you can share with us? A. I think you could have guessed by now that over 26 episodes, anything that got cut first time round would almost always find a home in another episode, so there wasn’t much scrap material left behind. I think I did something in one episode about Neville taking guitar lessons but making it look like he was visiting a brothel – it was patched into another episode that ran short. Q. Did you enjoy the latest series back in 2002/04? Would you have created a different storyline, and if so, what would you have liked to have seen the lads doing? A. I watched the revivals and thought the lads were fantastic – there simply hasn’t been a greater team of actors in British drama, in my biased opinion. Because of the gap between the old and new series I could watch the later ones dispassionately, and just enjoy them as a punter. I never really thought, ‘oh, that should have been better’, because my involvement had long gone. Q. And finally, what are you working on now? A. Current work involves developing a drama set in the ship-broking world of Liverpool – another workplace drama! I’m also trying to sell my film script about Marvin Gaye living in England with an old aristo lady for a year. Most recent credits were three ‘Dalziel and Pascoe’ films. But I’m touched to me remembered for my work on ‘AWP’, of which I will always be proud. Many thanks to Stan Hey for answering a few questions. © The text & images are copyright awpet.com and are not to be used or copied without permission.