The building site, although set in Germany, was actually in Hertfordshire in Elstree studios.. Despite the series giving the impression that most of it was filmed in Germany only about 4 weeks of establishing shots were done there and everything else, including building the block of flats was done at Elstree Studios. The block was demolished on completion of filming and it is now the Albert Square set of EastEnders (1985)
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Actor Gary Holton, who played Wayne Norris, died of a drugs overdose in 1985 while filming the second series, leading to a somewhat watered-down appearance in the last few episodes. As they had filmed all of the exterior scenes with Wayne in them but had not started any of the interior scenes, they decided to dress one of the production team in a wig to look like Wayne for backshots during indoor scenes to keep some form of continuity going. For many of the indoor scenes, he was written out entirely, and his presence was accounted for by explaining he was elsewhere at the time.
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At least twenty five actors/actresses have sadly passed away since the first series was made in 1983. The most notable are Gary Holton (Wayne), Pat Roach (Bomber), Caroline Hutchinson (Vera), Michael Elphick (McGowan), Lex Van Delden (Helmut Fischer) and Michael Sheard (Herr Grunwald).
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When the Berlin wall was pulled down by German citizens, a British journalist found some interesting graffiti. It read "Built by Germans, demolished by Oz".
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Many of the scenes shown in the second series set in Newcastle, Wolverhampton, Derbyshire and even one in Spain were in fact filmed in Nottingham.
Some of the actors' families also starred in the series. Tim Healy's wife Denise Welch appeared as Jean, the new resident of Oz's flat. Kevin Whately (Neville) starred with his daughter Catherine Whately, who played his on-screen daughter Debbie in the second series, and with his wife Madelaine Newton, who played Dennis' girlfriend Christine Chadwick. Jimmy Nail's son Thomas Bradford-Jones also has a small part as Sir James and Celestia Palmer's son Henry in series two, as did his sister Val McLane who played Dennis' sister Norma.
Pat Roach developed throat cancer before the filming of series three began. Although he would appear in series' three and four, he was undergoing chemotherapy at the same time. In the third series, it's painfully obvious that Pat was ill, and some scenes of his had to be changed to accommodate his medical condition. Although he felt fit enough to appear in series four, his family were angry at him because of the physical toll it was taking out on his well-being. Pat was too ill to appear in what would be the last Auf Wiedersehen Pet series ("The Specials") in 2004. He sadly died during filming of that two-hour special. In a touching scene, Dennis reads a letter from Bomber to the rest of the group while they are all dining in a restaurant, where he explains his reasons for not having joined them. The group lift their glasses and drink a toast; "To Bomber!"
Soon after the series began transmission, Newcastle United played at home to Liverpool. The fans began to chant "Oz is harder than Yosser!", relating their new icon to Scouse character Yosser Hughes from Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Blackstuff (1982).
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There was no love lost between executive producer Allan McKeown and Jimmy Nail. McKeown said that Nail was a 'nightmare' to work with during the second series. McKeown said that Nail suddenly thought he knew everything there is to know about filming and would often demand his lines be changed and would tell the director how to film a scene. McKeown confessed that during the filming of the second series, he thought Jimmy Nail was an "a***hole". The pair haven't spoken to each other since 1985.
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A third season was originally planned soon after the second series completed, to be set in Moscow, seeing the lads rebuilding the British Embassy, but it was declared too expensive, and the other actors did not want to carry on without Gary Holton, so the third series did not go ahead until it was picked up by the BBC some 15 years later. The rebuilding of the British Embassy was later used as the premise of the fourth series.
Jimmy Nail had done a spell of manual work in Germany himself, before filming the series.
Gary Holton (Wayne) wrote and sang a song about the show in 1984 with international artist Casino Steel.
The first and second series were broadcast on ITV in 1983 and 1986. Years later, the show was picked up by the BBC and the third and fourth series were shown in 2002 and 2004.
Franc Roddam decided to revive the programme after seeing Tim Healy, Kevin Whately and Jimmy Nail performing "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" sketches (written by Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement) on stage in 2000 as part of a charity concert in Newcastle being held as a tribute to Sammy Johnson ("Stick" in Spender (1991)). Allan McKeown, executive producer of the two 1980s series, was vigorously opposed to the plans and urged La Frenais and Clement to have nothing to do with the project or, failing that, at least to avoid using the title "Auf Wiedersehen Pet". However the revived series went ahead. As a result, McKeown and La Frenais have not spoken since, despite previously being close friends (La Frenais had been Best Man at McKeown's wedding).
Jimmy Nail's girlfriend Miriam, now his wife, heard about the auditions and suggested that he try out to be an extra.
Before shooting in the UK began, the cast were sent on a practical bricklaying course.
In order to get the role of Wyman in series three, Noel Clarke had to pass his driving test.
Jimmy Nail won the part of Oz after auditioning for a walk-on part in the show.
In a The South Bank Show (1978) documentary in the late '80s, Jimmy Nail said that he wouldn't play Oz again as he thought it was a character that no one nowadays would find funny. He was proved wrong when the series returned in 2002 and Oz continued to be the most popular of the seven main cast members.
The filming in Germany (in the cities of Hamburg and Düsseldorf) for the entire first series only actually lasted for ten days.
Although Moxey was a central character, he did not appear until the second episode; he was the only one of the seven original main cast members not to be introduced until the second episode, possibly due to the limitations of introducing so many main cast members in the first episode and still leave room for establishing the story.
Bomber's real first name is "Brian". This is revealed when the boys are trying to come up with a name for a company. This is the only time it is used.
Although Dennis acts like a Father figure to Neville and takes him under his wing, he is infact younger in real life.
In the first series there is a non speaking eighth member of the hut.
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The only characters to appear in all 40 episodes are Dennis (Tim Healy), Neville (Kevin Whately), Oz (Jimmy Nail) and Barry (Timothy Spall).
Neville's wife Brenda (Julia Tobin) is the only female character to have appeared in every series.
Franc Roddam got the idea for the show after he returned to his Teeside home to find that many of his friends were working abroad on German building sites.
Soon after the second series ended, Tyne Tees Television produced an AIDS awareness show in the form of a mini episode. Tim Healy and Jimmy Nail reprised their roles in Educating Oz (1986), a 25-minute show.
Apart from the regular series and the spin-off, Educating Oz (1986), there was also a special short episode made in 2003 for Comic Relief starring Tim Healy, Kevin Whately, Jimmy Nail and Christopher Fairbank. Three sketches were also acted out on stage in 2000 as part of a charity concert in Newcastle, which starred Tim Healy, Kevin Whately and Jimmy Nail and depicted the events that preceded occurred before, after and between the first two series.
Oz's grimy underpants actually belonged to Kevin Whately. He was washing his car with them at the set and producers thought that they would be perfect for Oz.
German authorities complained that the show glamorized the hard work that German building sites entailed. To redress the balance, Channel 4 produced The Real Auf Wiedersehen Pet, a documentary that put forward the true facts.
The spire-shaped tower we see on Thornley Manor was not part of the original building. This was added by the production crew to make the house look more Victorian. The house in fact dates back to the 16th century.
During filming at the house being used as Thornley Manor, a member of the television crew named Colin was pushing some heavy equipment over some undergrowth and had a narrow escape. The ground collapsed beneath him, giving way to an old, and previously unknown well. To this day, the owners of the house refer to it as "Colin's well", although for safety reasons, Central TV (now Carlton) had it professionally sealed off and covered.
The scene in which Ally and Kenny are sitting in the tennis club having a discussion and the lads return home in the second series had to be filmed several times. The club is on the main flight path to Malaga airport, and the frequent aircraft noise kept muffling the shot.
The novelization of the second series ("Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 2" by Fred Taylor) ended abruptly with Oz winning the Spanish lottery. It went into no details about Barry's wedding and the impending customs chase. This was because the novel was based on an earlier version of the script. This is also apparent as the book covers some of the scenes that Gary Holton would have filmed had he been alive.
In all 21 years, the words "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" have only ever been said in the show in the final episode as the last ever lines.
According to early scripts, the second series was supposed to end with Oz winning the Spanish lottery. But ITV wanted the ending changed to one that was more dramatic like the hut burning down in series one.
Oz's real first name is "Leonard". This is revealed at his "funeral". It is barely used at all in the show.
Moxey's real first name is "Albert". This is revealed when a policeman tries to arrest him in Spain in series 2. It is also mentioned briefly in series 3, although Mickey Startup says that his name is just "Moxey, just like Moby."
Joe Fagin sung the theme songs to series one and two.
In 2000, the ITV series was ranked #46 on the 100 Greatest British TV Programmes in a list compiled by the British Film Institute.
By the second series, Gary Holton's drug addiction was causing major difficulties on set as he struggled to remember his lines and complete his scenes, resulting in multiple re-takes. Eventually, the producers had to schedule all his scenes to be shot in the morning as, by the afternoon, he was often incapable of working.
Soon after the first series had finished, rumors were rife that the follow-up series would be set in the Falklands. However, this location only played a very small part in the first episode of the second series.
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