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24 September 2014

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'Allo 'Allo!

The cast of 'Allo 'Allo!

René Artois is a café owner in the Nazi-occupied French town of Nouvion, whose efforts to appease a range of opposing factions without being killed provide the unlikely scenario for this long-running hit BBC One sitcom.

German Colonel Von Strohm is on good terms with René but exploits the café to hide a stolen painting (the oft-mentioned Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies by Van Klomp) he plans to sell after the war for his retirement.

Unfortunately Hitler also wants the painting and has sent Gestapo agent Otto Flick to find it. But the Germans aren't René's only problem.

The French Resistance, led by Michelle, force him to aid their persistent attempts to return two bumbling British airmen to England and all the time René must keep secret from his wife his long-running affairs with his two waitresses or risk losing his cherished café.

Gordon Kaye as René in 'Allo 'Allo!

An innovative trick was the portrayal of languages, with French characters speaking English in a French accent whilst the 'English' had an upper-class twang.

Hence the poor French of Englishman Crabtree (disguised as a gendarme) could be depicted by his serial mispronunciations, especially his famous greeting "Good Moaning".

It's the best known of a raft of catchphrases (Michelle’s "Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once" coming a close second).

The comedy maintained a large number of subplots and returning characters (including the camp Lieutenant Gruber, undertaker Monsieur Alfonse and forger Leclerc), cheerfully revelling in a bawdy 'picture postcard' humour.

To cram in the twisting story, episodes would run on from each other linked by René's opening monologues to camera.

Otto Flick and Helga from 'Allo 'Allo!

Written and performed as a farce, writers David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd made great play of national stereotypes (sex-obsessed French, posh British twits) but this didn't stop the show becoming a massive success on both sides of the Channel.

'Allo 'Allo! treated the war itself quite reverently, but targeted more specifically the raft of wartime dramas that were flooding TV schedules, especially ITV series Secret Army (1977-1979), about the Resistance movement.

It may not have quite the enduring appeal of Dad's Army, but over 85 episodes retained a strong, popular, family following.


Gorden Kaye
René Artois
Carmen Silvera
Edith Artois
Vicki Michelle
Kirsten Cooke
Jack Haig
M Leclerc
John D Collins
Flying Officer Fairfax
Nicholas Frankau
Flying Officer Adamson
Richard Gibson
Otto Flick
Kim Hartman
Richard Marner
Col Von Strohm
Guy Siner
Lieutenant Gruber
Rose Hill
Arthur Bostrom
Kenneth Connor
M Alfonse
Francesca Gonshaw
Sam Kelly
Capt Hans Geering
Hilary Minster
General von Klinkerhoffen
John Louis Mansi
Von Smallhausen
Sue Hodge
Mimi La Bonque
Gavin Richards
Capt Alberto Bertorelli


Jeremy Lloyd
David Croft
Paul Adam
John Chapman
Ian Davidson
Ronald Wolfe
Ronald Chesney
David Croft
Mike Stephens
Susan Belbin
Martin Dennis
Richard Boden
Sue Longstaff
John B Hobbs
David Croft
John B Hobbs
Mike Stephens

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