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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Pet boys fête TV return
Auf Wiedersehen Pet
Six of the group and the writers try to recapture the winning formula
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By Rebecca Thomas and Leigh Mytton
BBC News Online
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Sixteen years after ITV comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen Pet said its final farewell, it is back - but this time on BBC One.

Starting on Sunday, the revived series about a group of hapless builders reunites all but one of the seven original cast.

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais return as writers. And, judging by the enduring popularity of their original show, they look set to score another hit.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet ranked 46th in the British Film Institute's top 100 programmes of all time.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet
Pat Roach: Remembered as Bomber

And, confirms actor Pat Roach - who plays Bomber - a day rarely passes without him being reminded of the series.

"Auf Wiedersehen Pet never went away and people say 'there's Bomber' when I walk down the street."

Roach has been a wrestler and featured in movies including three Indiana Jones films, A Clockwork Orange and a James Bond.

But, he says: "I tend to sign only Bomber autographs. People remember all the characters.

"We are in the back of lots of people's minds. Even kids feel like they know us."

'Wonderful'

In the new series, Bomber, Barry, played by Timothy Spall, Dennis, played by Tim Healy, Oz, played by Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately as Neville and Chris Fairbank as Moxey, embark on a scam that takes them from Middlesbrough to Arizona in the US.

Despite the time lapse, they all fall back in with each other just as before. Roach says it was the same in real life and being together again was "wonderful".

"All the boys hugged each other and kissed - but in a very manly way. We were so pleased to see each other.

"It's probably never been known for a cast to keep together so much and when we were on set again it was like we had never been apart."


It's probably never been known for a cast to keep together so much

Pat Roach

Since the end of the original series, most of Roach's co-stars have become successful in their own right, particularly Whately and Spall.

Roach readily admits he is proud to have also worked on big international projects.

But he remains eternally fond of his role as Bomber, even though he, like the other characters, have changed between series.

And, Roach stresses, he will always be grateful for Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

"We've two great writers and tremendous artists. I don't consider myself a proper actor so I am very fortunate to be with them - some of it's got to rub off on me."


Leigh Mytton talks to Christopher Fairbank

Christopher Fairbank returns as Moxey, who despite no longer being an arsonist, just cannot seem to keep out of trouble.

Fairbank says he and the rest of the cast were nervous about reprising their roles. But, like Roach, pays tribute to their innate camaraderie.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet
Christopher Fairbank: His character Moxey has a bigger role

"Within a day and a half of rehearsals, it seemed that no time had passed. It was something of a timewarp," Fairbank says.

He too is in awe of the enduring public affection for Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

He says he noticed this particularly from the warm reception he received from the public when appearing in a play in Newcastle a couple of years ago.

"It was as if the show was running at the time, such was the reaction, esteem and love that was held for the characters and the show," he says.

Highlight

The new series is missing original team member Wayne, played by Gary Holton who died in 1985. But his influence continues with Wayne's son Wyman, played by Noel Clarke.

It is hoped the revised line-up will rekindle the magic of previous shows. "There seems to be a huge anticipation factor surrounding this new series," says Fairbank.


Auf Wiedersehen Pet is about emptying the pubs and giving people something to watch that they enjoy and almost fall in love with

Christopher Fairbank

The series was filmed after 11 September and Fairbank says there was a "brothers in arms" spirit among the US crew.

Fairbank admits he was sceptical about Auf Wiedersehen Pet's chances of success in the 1980s.

"I thought: 'Who's going to be interested in 13 hours on a building site in Germany?'," he says.

Now he is "delighted" to have been so wrong.

He concludes: "Auf Wiedersehen Pet is about emptying the pubs and giving people something to watch that they enjoy and almost fall in love with."

Auf Wiedersehen Pet begins on Sunday 28 April on BBC One at 2100 BST.

See also:

13 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Cameras roll for new Auf Wiedersehen
04 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
BBC revives classic sitcoms
14 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
BBC showcases classic drama
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