JIMMY NAIL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - PART ONE

The Official Auf Wiedersehen Pet Fan Site is incredibly honoured to have touched base with legendary Jimmy Nail AKA Leonard Jeffrey ‘Oz’ Osborne to bring fans a never before exclusive three-part Q&A! Having had zero acting experience, in 1982, Jimmy attended a casting session in Newcastle upon Tyne for a new television series to be made by Central Television. His somewhat unconventional interview would ultimately catapult him to overnight stardom. On 11th November 1983, the first of thirteen episodes of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was aired and Jimmy Nail was to become a household name. For the first time in 22 years, Jimmy tells us about his time on and off set. Over the coming months, we’ll share his answers to your questions received via the Official fansite and social media platforms. In part one of our exclusive, we start way back in Spring, 1982… Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021. This article is not to be reproduced without consent.

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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 - 2021
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JN - I’d like to begin by making clear that the following are my thoughts and recollections of events, some of which took place almost 40 years ago. Others will doubtless have their own recollections, their own versions. They may differ from mine. All are valid. Everyone has their own truth. I’ve written at length about my AWP experiences in my 2004 memoir and for that reason my answers here will be comparatively brief. Question 1: At only 28 years of age, you played your character to perfection as the brash, loud mouthed opinionated loose cannon with a vulnerable side. Fans of the show warmed to Oz’s humour immediately following his opening scene with Dennis and Neville on a ferry, crossing the Channel; destination Germany. You once said if you watch an early episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet these days, you “only see a clumsy young man charging around like a bull in a china store”. In hindsight, what would you change – both good and bad - about your performance as the ‘young Oz’ in series 1 (Germany) and 2 (UK/Spain)?  JN: Would I change anything about my performance in Series 1 and 2? I don’t think so. It was what it was, and I’m proud of the contribution I was able to make. For many reasons, AWP burned itself into the nation’s collective consciousness, struck a chord and that’s gratifying. I remember having a conversation with Richard E Grant about how we’d both begun our careers with the best jobs we’d ever land – he in ‘Withnail & I’ and I in AWP. Both parts impossible to top. You just have to recognise that, accept it for what it is and be thankful. Richard worked hard to become the wonderful actor he is today whereas I was never inclined to do or be the same. To be a great actor you have to put the time in, do the hard yards. Question 2: The Official Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Fansite recently released a 40-minute animated tour of the series 1 German BECO Building Site film set, formally constructed at Elstree Studios Borehamwood, offering fans the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Dennis, Oz, Neville, Bomber, Wayne, Barry and Moxey. As your first major role with a leading part, can you recall your thoughts as you first stepped foot on the outdoor film set for the first time in 1982?   JN: We were taken onto the back lot where a full-scale working construction site had been set up complete with cranes, dumper trucks, cement mixers, portaloos etc. - very impressive – and introduced to the contractors whose job it would be to keep us                        Question 3: Your passion for Newcastle United FC is common knowledge both on and off screen. This passion for your home team runs through each and every series with a dash of friendly Sunderland FC rivalry throughout. The most popular recurring question we receive relates to series 1, episode 3, ‘The Girls They Left Behind’ when Oz and Dennis take time away from their claustrophobic working environment to offer Sunderland FC a little encouragement against Liege. The idea of staunch Newcastle United fans supporting Sunderland is a step beyond reality in the eyes of many. We’ve received mixed reports regarding the script rationale and wondered if you’d give us your take on the storyline and, above all else, how did you feel about wearing that Sunderland scarf?!  JN: AWP was a work of fiction, its cast of characters, though authentic and plausible, were nevertheless creations. Reality would’ve had us using industrial language strong enough to peel the paint off the walls and punching people’s teeth out. Oz had a scarf draped around his neck because that’s what was called for in the script. It was a plot point, a device to get him home. I believe Ian’s thinking was that the boys would’ve felt going to a football game - even a Sunderland game! - was better than doing nothing in the hut that weekend. What I may have felt about it personally had no bearing on it. Neither he nor any of us could have envisaged a scenario where 40 years later fans would be going over the programmes forensically. I’ve had my leg pulled - and my ear bent - about it over the years. Question 4: In the same episode, we see Oz inadvertently catch a flight home to Newcastle resulting in him reluctantly landing on the doorstep of his home where dialogue with his wife Marjorie soon turns to your characters son, Rod. A studio photograph of you with Rod exists suggesting a scene was filmed with him but was left on the cutting room floor. Do you recall the scene and for what reason did it not make the final cut?  JN: I have no recollection of such a scene. I’ll ask Roger Bamford if he can shed any light on this. If he can help, I’ll get back to you. I believe there’s also conjecture over the stool scene in series 2 where Oz supposedly tipped a pint of beer over the chap’s head. I have no recollection of that. Question 5: Believe it or not, a much-discussed topic across the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet forums and social media platforms relates to the opening scene of series, 1 episode 11, ‘The Lovers’ in Hut B where a typical Oz exposes a substantial bruise to his upper right arm. Whilst very much in character, no reference is made to the bruise throughout the episode which leaves viewers to assume it was a real injury. We’d like to put this one to bed. Was the bruise a result of a make-up artist and, if not, can you recall how you sustained such an injury? JN: We were having our home renovated at the time, slipped and fell through the exposed joists of an upper floor. In order to stop myself falling through the floors below and landing on concrete I stuck both my arms out, elbows bent. It stopped me but it was Question 6: The first reference to your characters passion of the late great American Country singer/song writer Merle Haggard was made in series 1, episode 3, ‘The Girls They Left Behind’. Series 2, Episode 6, ‘Cowboys’, written by Stan Hey, saw Oz surprise the lads at a Country and Western pub with an incredible rendition of Merle Haggards ‘I Can’t Be Myself’. Did you have any influence on the track you sang during this scene and was your rendition a personal interpretation that would pave the way to a successful musical career?  JN: Oz being a Merle Haggard fan was in the original scripts, Ian’s idea. Having me sing a Merle Haggard song in Series 2 was I believe Stan Hey’s suggestion. I was happy to go along with it, though I felt it was stretching the  bounds of plausibility. I wasn’t familiar with any Merle Haggard material. The arrangement was mine; we didn’t stray too far from the original or take any liberties. The musicians involved were Rob Lockhart (guitar); BJ Cole (pedal steel); Tony Mac (bass); Trevor Brewis (drums). I believe we pre-recorded the backing track and I did the vocal live. As regards making the recording commercially available to the public, television companies at that time were very slow to recognise the potential of music tie-ins; they felt it was just too much hassle to clear a song’s publishing, get into complex and often protracted negotiations with musicians, writers, managers etc. Nowadays everything is different, the current crop of tv executives understand the value and importance of music crossover and it’s an integral part of most programme-making. And having just had a soul-inspired record (‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’) in the UK charts it would have been confusing and counter-productive to have released a country & western record. I’m sure you’ll know, Oz’s line, ‘Tonight I’m gonna love someone to death’ was taken from the Merle Haggard song ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Love Somebody to Death’. Question 7: John Strachan (Ying Tong John) AKA ‘Big Baz’ spoke passionately to us about his time on set during a recent Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fan gathering in Nottingham when he recalled playing Ally Fraser’s minder (Bill Paterson) in series 2. Your characters first encounter with Baz in episode 2, ‘Return of the Seven Pt 2’ is arguably one of the most memorable Auf Wiedersehen, Pet scenes when one aggressive head- butt knocks Baz to the floor   JN: I recall suggesting to John that in the interests of safety - primarily his safety - it would be best if he were to stand as still as he could, but in such a situation that’s easier said than done. On one of the takes I recall he moved just a little and I caught him, but thankfully no irreparable damage was done and John was as good as gold about it.   The Official Auf Wiedersehen Pet fansite would sincerely like to thank Jimmy for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us and sharing his memories. Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to read Part 2 of our exclusive interview when we discover an interesting story behind the timeless classic ‘aga-bloody-doo’ scene in Arthur Pringle’s Barley Mow; whether there was any talk of a series 3 back in the 80’s following the huge success to series 2 and what was his characters favourite exchange of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet dialogue! Plus, we find out an astonishing fact when we asked how singer, songwriter and producer Mark Knopfler became involved in writing the opening sound track to series 3, ‘Why aye man’! Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021. This article is not to be reproduced without consent. Ready for part 2 of our Jimmy Nail Q&A? Read it here.    
right, or at least try to. A great bunch of guys, they viewed us with a mixture of scepticism and amusement. There was a
short period of familiarisation, a few hours every few days over a period of weeks. Due to my having spent a bit of time on building sites I felt quite at home.
painful. hence the bruise.
Watch the BECO Virtual Tour now on Watch Oz and Mr Treadaway have words now on Watch ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Love Someone To Death’ now on Watch ‘Oz the Sunderland Supporter’ Now on
some precise coordination to ensure a convincing strike yet safe execution. Can you recall filming this unforgettable scene with John and were there any near misses?
with such conviction the
viewer is left feeling his pain. The scene must have called for
Watch Oz chin Big Baz now on Watch Oz sing his heart out on stage in Harry Boozer now on

JIMMY NAIL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW - PART ONE

The Official Auf Wiedersehen Pet Fan Site is incredibly honoured to have touched base with legendary Jimmy Nail AKA Leonard Jeffrey ‘Oz’ Osborne to bring fans a never before exclusive three-part Q&A! Having had zero acting experience, in 1982, Jimmy attended a casting session in Newcastle upon Tyne for a new television series to be made by Central Television. His somewhat unconventional interview would ultimately catapult him to overnight stardom. On 11th November 1983, the first of thirteen episodes of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was aired and Jimmy Nail was to become a household name. His somewhat unconventional interview would ultimately catapult him to overnight stardom. For the first time in 22 years, Jimmy tells us about his time on and off set with passion and from the heart. Over the coming months, we’ll share his answers to your questions received via the Official fansite and social media platforms. In part one of our exclusive, we start way back in Spring, 1982… Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021.
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JN - I’d like to begin by making clear that the following are my thoughts and recollections of events, some of which took place almost 40 years ago. Others will doubtless have their own recollections, their own versions. They may differ from mine. All are valid. Everyone has their own truth. I’ve written at length about my AWP experiences in my 2004 memoir and for that reason my answers here will be comparatively brief. Question 1: At only 28 years of age, you played your character to perfection as the brash, loud mouthed opinionated loose cannon with a vulnerable side. Fans of the show warmed to Oz’s humour immediately following his opening scene with Dennis and Neville on a ferry, crossing the Channel; destination Germany. You once said if you watch an early episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet these days, you “only see a clumsy young man charging around like a bull in a china store”. In hindsight, what would you change – both good and bad - about your performance as the ‘young Oz’ in series 1 (Germany) and 2 (UK/Spain)?   JN: Would I change anything about my performance in Series 1 and 2? I don’t think so. It was what it was, and I’m proud of the contribution I was able to make. For many reasons, AWP burned itself into the nation’s collective consciousness, struck a chord and that’s gratifying. I remember having a conversation with Richard E Grant about how we’d both begun our careers with the best jobs we’d ever land – he in ‘Withnail & I’ and I in AWP. Both parts impossible to top. You just have to recognise that, accept it for what it is and be thankful. Richard worked hard to become the wonderful actor he is today whereas I was never inclined to do or be the same. To be a great actor you have to put the time in, do the hard yards. Question 2: The Official Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Fansite recently released a 40-minute animated tour of the series 1 German BECO Building Site film set, formally constructed at Elstree Studios Borehamwood, offering fans the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Dennis, Oz, Neville, Bomber, Wayne, Barry and Moxey. As your first major role with a leading part, can you recall your thoughts as you first stepped foot on the outdoor film set for the first time in 1982?   JN: We were taken onto the back lot where a full- scale working construction site had been set up complete with cranes, dumper trucks, cement mixers, portaloos etc. - very impressive – and introduced to the contractors whose job it would be to keep us right, or at least try to. A great bunch of guys, they viewed us with a mixture of scepticism and amusement. There was a short period of familiarisation, a few hours every few days over a period of weeks. Due to my having spent a bit of time on building sites I felt quite at home. Question 3: Your passion for Newcastle United FC is common knowledge both on and off screen. This passion for your home team runs through each and every series with a dash of friendly Sunderland FC rivalry throughout. The most popular recurring question we receive relates to series 1, episode 3, ‘The Girls They Left Behind’ when Oz and Dennis take time away from their claustrophobic working environment to offer Sunderland FC a little encouragement against Liege. The idea of staunch Newcastle United fans supporting Sunderland is a step beyond reality in the eyes of many. We’ve received mixed reports regarding the script rationale and wondered if you’d give us your take on the storyline and, above all else, how did you feel about wearing that Sunderland scarf?!  JN: AWP was a work of fiction, its cast of characters, though authentic and plausible, were nevertheless creations. Reality would’ve had us using industrial language strong enough to peel the paint off the walls and punching people’s teeth out. Oz had a scarf draped around his neck because that’s what was called for in the script. It was a plot point, a device to get him home. I believe Ian’s thinking was that the boys would’ve felt going to a football game - even a Sunderland game! - was better than doing nothing in the hut that weekend. What I may have felt about it personally had no bearing on it. Neither he nor any of us could have envisaged a scenario where 40 years later fans would be going over the programmes forensically. I’ve had my leg pulled - and my ear bent - about it over the years. Question 4: In the same episode, we see Oz inadvertently catch a flight home to Newcastle resulting in him reluctantly landing on the doorstep of his home where dialogue with his wife Marjorie soon turns to your characters son, Rod. A studio photograph of you with Rod exists suggesting a scene was filmed with him but was left on the cutting room floor. Do you recall the scene and for what reason did it not make the final cut?   JN: I have no recollection of such a scene. I’ll ask Roger Bamford if he can shed any light on this. If he can help, I’ll get back to you. I believe there’s also conjecture over the stool scene in series 2 where Oz supposedly tipped a pint of beer over the chap’s head. I have no recollection of that. Copyright: Jimmy Nail 2021. This article is not to be reproduced without consent.
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Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 1983 -2021
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