‘A FEW WORDS FROM 'THE GAFFER'...!

Back in 2019, the team spent the afternoon at the hilarious ‘Sketches for Sammy’ at ‘The Exchange’, North Shields where we caught up with ‘The Gaffer’ for a few words. We asked Tim Healy to reflect on his career and what Auf Wiedersehen, Pet means to him. Copyright: Images, articles and text are copyright awpet.com. Acknowledgement: Tim Healy

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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2021
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“In 1982 I was a jobbing actor having been a founder member of the Live theatre in Newcastle in 1973, taking plays to the working classes all over the North East and having roles in Crown Court, Coronation Street, Emmerdale Farm, and in 1980 I played Charlie Hogg in 'The World Cup a Captains Tale'. A script arrived called Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. At first, I thought it would be a German language program, but I read it and thought it was outstanding. Dick and Ian came to see me in CP Taylor's last play at The Playhouse, Newcastle and watched 'The World Cup: A Captains Tale’ (1982) and after a meeting they offered me the part of Dennis. I then read with a few actors up for the role of Oz, none were right until Jimmy came in and he was wonderful! He had no experience but was 'the' Oz they were looking for. My role as the sensible leader catapulted me into all sorts of other work after we had finished, and I’ve done hundreds of roles since then, but still known to many TV viewers as Dennis. It was the best job ever to happen to me, and we have all remained very close friends something I will always be proud of. A beautiful comic look at Thatcher’s Britain” Tim Healy xxx The team at the Official Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fansite would like to sincerely thank Tim for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us.
© The text & images are copyright awpet.com and are not to be used or copied without permission.

‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’...

Earlier this month, we reached out to friend of the Fansite Stan Hey, writer of several classic episodes of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet including 'Home Thoughts From Abroad'. To celebrate 37 years of the greatest comedy/drama to grace British TV screens, we asked Stan to tell us about his memories from this classic episode. How he got asked to write it, where the ideas come from and Stan also shows us his never before seen original hand written script drafts from 1983! Copyright: Images, articles and text are copyright awpet.com. Acknowledgement: Stan Hey
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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2020
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‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’ – AWP, Series 1, Episode 5 I realised when I came to write this AWP snippet that my association with the programme goes back five years further than my marriage – one involves the plight of the down-trodden man, and the other shows the resilience of workers forced to go abroad for jobs. My first involvement came on Saturday February 12th in 1983 when I was called into the Witzend Office in Notting Hill for a 10.30 am meeting with Allan McKeown, the company’s chief executive. Witzend was officially based in Los Angeles, where Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais now lived, allowing them to write for both American and British TV. I had met Allan a year earlier when I co-wrote a comedy pilot called ‘A Cut Above’ for Witzend/Central TV. It was about a young hairdresser in the swinging 60s, based on McKeown’s pre-TV life. He later moved into film, with a ‘Hair Design’ credit on every Geordie’s favourite thriller ‘Get Carter’. The pilot was recorded on a Sunday night in Birmingham, on the day that Britain declared war on Argentina. The live audience was far from being amused. Central later showed the pilot but turned down a series. But at least Allan had found the love of his life, Tracey Ullman or ‘that bird with the great pins’ as he called her when he first spotted her at rehearsals. So there we were, on a distinctly non-LA morning, with fog shrouding the city and he puts a cassette-tape into a player, one with no music, no colour and rough sound showing a group of scruffy men working on a building site. I thought it was a social documentary before Allan explained the show. And because Dick was away filming ‘Water’ they needed another writer to come in and write an episode as they were behind schedule. We worked through the actors and their characters – I recognised Tim Healy from his appearance in ‘A Captain’s Tale’, a football film from 1982, but couldn’t place the rest. I also worried that this might be too close to Alan Bleasdale’s brilliant drama ‘Boys from the Black Stuff, but Allan explained that this was about men forced to work abroad, and that the show would be mainly comic. Over a working lunch, I started to get ideas and buffed up my credentials by listing jobs I’d done such as petrol pump attendant, car washer, hod- carrier tobacco factory worker, bin-man so I knew about the working man’s humour. I’d never been to Newcastle but knew a few Geordies from university. By the end of the lunch, I was hooked, and hired – and I’d come up with an idea for Bomber, who hadn’t featured much in a story. ‘Can you work it up for Tuesday, then, and go and see Ian and producer Martin McKeand at Elstree Studios?’ This was my first taste of the production’s ‘seat of the pants’ methods. Over two days, with a break on Monday night to see Luther Vandross in concert (that dates me), I worked up story ideas. Then it was the train up to Elstree for a chat with Martin and Ian, a tour of the ‘German’ building site and The Hut, and then a lunch at an Italian restaurant on the high street – most ‘AWP’ meetings revolved around a restaurant visit, a civilised approach that has now disappeared – you are lucky if you get a glass of water at script meetings these days. I came away with a general approval for my ideas but was told to stay away from ‘sex and pulling, and to keep Dennis and Oz in the background.’ I went home and worked through the key story elements – the top ‘layer’ was Bomber’s daughter disappearing from home, then turning up at the site after he’d left to go back to England. The second strand was Neville’s continuing search for extra money to send back to Brenda – the Indian restaurant with German speaking staff had happened to me on a 1981 visit to Hamburg to see Kevin Keegan’s last game there.  The overall theme was a sort of home sickness setting in for some of the lads. I faxed (remember them?) my scene plan to Martin and was asked to start writing on Monday 28th, just over a fortnight on from the meeting with Allan. A week later I was asked for a list of new interior sets that I needed apart from the site and the hut –  Bomber’s home and the Indian restaurant were the main two. I worked out the script with pen and paper at first, then typed it up and took it in to Elstree on the 16th March. On the 29th there was a rewrite/cuts meeting, then another lunch and on Friday 8th April I got a lift up to the studios with the episode’s director Baz Taylor (known as ‘two- dinners’) with whom I’d  worked before on an episode of ‘Hazell’. The ‘Baz’ tag was also borrowed for the name of a certain Series Two strong-man. On Monday 18th April, there was the read- through of the script, and I met ‘The Lads’ for the first time, being given a kind welcome which eased my nerves about what they might say. On Monday 8th May, recording began – as I watched, I was taken to one side by Martin. I thought it might be the brush-off but he said quietly ‘we need another episode, the last one of the series, and very quickly, like by the end of the month’. But that’s another story. Note: The young actress who played Bomber’s daughter Tracy, Lucinda Edmonds, later became a highly successful novelist. Exclusive: Below are 2 of Stan’s original hand written early draft scripts from 1983, featuring the now infamous Oz ‘Guard the Door’ scene! © The text & images are copyright awpet.com and are not to be used or copied without permission.
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