Newest Review: ... of 1000 faces, everyone the same'. Unfortunately Jack Haig who played the character died suddenly after series 5. In my opinion this robbe... more
'Allo 'Allo - "ze flashing bedknobs"
Member Name: mjc121
Date: 03/03/09, updated on 31/01/11 (315 review reads)
Advantages: very funny
Disadvantages: weak final series
'Allo Allo' was a BBC comedy series set in the village of Nouvion in France during the second world war. The main setting is a small café run by Rene Artois. He is in a bit of a predicament. As he says in the third episode of the first series:
(Quote from series) " I have to be nice to the Germans, they are winning the war, if I am not nice to them, they will shoot me. I have to be nice to the resistance or they will shoot me for being nice to the Germans. I have to be nice to my wife because if she finds out I am having an affair with Yvette she will she will shoot me..."
Every episode begins with Rene setting the scene, this usulaly takes the form of a quick recap of the previous episode.
Some of the main characters:
Rene not only is the proprietor of the café which is frequented by the Germans but also a member of the resistance, hider of the British airmen and hider if the 'portrait of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies by van Klomp'
He is married to Edith the cabaret singer at the café, well I say singer she isn't all that good as Rene says 'she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket'.
Rene has a sort of love/hate relationship with his mother in law, Mme Fanny that is they love to hate each other. She is a demanding widow (or we are lead to believe she is a widow) who always wants attention by banging her stick and shouting. She wants the best for her daughter - and in her opinion, that is not Rene.
Yvette, Maria (till end of series 3) and Mimi (from series 4 onwards) are the waitresses at the café, all three of them are in love with Rene and all want to marry him. They provide 'entertainment' for the Germans in return for things like butter, sugar, paraffin etc as these are more valuable than money
Roger Leclerc is the old forger and former lover of Mme Fanny. He is also the pianist at the café although not a very good one. He is a bumbling fool who is constantly delivering things like dynamite etc to the café for Rene to hide for the resistance. He is, however, not very good at disguises. Rene has quoted 'man of 1000 faces, everyone the same'. Unfortunately Jack Haig who played the character died suddenly after series 5. In my opinion this robbed the series of one of the best characters. The character was 'replaced' by Leclerc's brother, but the series was never quite the same.
Michelle 'of the resistance' Dubois the leader of the local resistance group, she is always thinking up ludicrous ways of getting the British airmen back to England, needless to say they never work. Always uttering 'Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once"
M. Alfonse is the randy undertaker who is a suitor of Mme Edith. He helps the resistance where he can but has to be careful due to his 'dickey ticker'. He is well off but if he ever opens his wallet, moths would fly out.
Officer Crabtree (the British idiot who thinks he can speak French) he arrives from British intelligence and disguises himself as a French policeman. The perfect disguise - as long as he never speaks. He mangles the French language and his catch-phrase became "good moaning" (no really, it's not a typing error)
Colonel Von Strom - he is supposed to be the officer in charge of the area, He isn't very good at it and is far from honest. He has taken a valuable painting "the fallen Madonna with the big boobies by von Klomp" which was supposed to be sent to Hitler. He intends to keep it for himself to sell after the war. How does he hide it? Simple - get Rene to do it.
Captain Hans Gering (up to end of series 3) He is the Colonels assistant. His excuse when things go wrong is that 'I was only following orders'
General Von Klinkerhoffen (not a regular until series 3) He come in to take over the area. He is ruthless and manipulates the officers by holding the threat of the Russian front over them.
Captain Alberto Bertorelli - An Italian captain brought into replace Captain Gering. Capt Alberto is not popular with the German's and he is very much a ladies man. He even, strange as it may seam, has the hots for Edith - or is it just the Café he is after?
Herr Flick - The Gestapo officer originally sent to find the portrait of the fallen Madonna. However he also intends to keep it for himself. This is probably one of the most believable characters as he was played as being cold and sinister. Hoever, Richard Gibson was unable to do Series 9 and he was replaced by David Janson. Unfortunately Janson was not as good and the character simply became annoying.
Private Helga she is Herr Flicks 'bit of stuff' and the Colonel's secretary. She spies on both Herr Flick and the Colonel and always reports to each of them what the other is up to. All to suit her own ends naturally
Left Tennant Gruber - the camp ADC to the General. He is often playing the piano and singing in the café. He is in fact the only other person Edith allows to do so. He also appears to 'fancy' Rene.
Anyway the main plot:
Michelle persuades Rene to hide two British airmen until she can get them back to England. Rene agrees, reluctantly, as he believes this may only be for a few days. Unfortunately Michelle's plans (normally a new one every couple of episodes) get more and more ridiculous and they never work leaving Rene stuck with them. Rene is also named 'nighthawk' and is in contact with London via a radio, which is kept under the bed of his mother-in-law. Alerted by 'ze flashing knobs' as Mme Fanny puts it.
On top of this the area commander Colonel Von Strom finds out that Rene is hiding the airmen. Rene should be shot for this but the Colonel decides to use this for his own ends and gets Rene to hide the portrait of 'The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies' which he intends to keep for himself. As well as any other number of jobs he needs doing. With Herr Flick after the painting as well and a large number of forgeries it's always hard to remember where the real one is.
Rene is also having an affair with his waitresses and must keep this from Edith. She often catches him with his arms around Yvette where upon the line "Rene, what are you doing with your arms round that girl" is shrieked. Rene's reply "You stupid woman...." Followed by a long ridiculous excuse which no woman in her right mind would believe, but Edith always does.
Rene's other problem is that he was sentenced to death by General Von Klinkerhoffen for his part in blowing up a railway. Colonel Von Strom needs Rene alive and so swaps the real bullets for dummy ones. However, in the eyes of the Germans, he is now officially dead and has to pretend to be his own twin brother. Officially this means he is free to get married again. Yvette and Maria both believe it is their turn but Rene knows he will have to re-marry Edith in order to keep his Café.
With exploding Christmas puddings, a gin addicted mother-in-law trying to drink him into bankrupsy not to mention trying to avoid being shot by both sides it is little wonder Rene is always trying to escape France to get away from the war.
The series is still being repeated on BBC1 and is still as funny now as it always was. The bad fake accents used by the cast are funny in themselves and it is little wonder that the series has done well in France and Germany as well as the UK. It still works today as it was set in the past hence it is less likely to age.
The scripts are well written despite the obvious low budget and Crabtree's "bad French" is always one of the best bits in each episode, not bad considering that Crabtree was only originally supposed to be a two to three episode part.
The problem of three, occasionally 4 languages being used was overcome by the use of fake accents. What always seamed odd to me was that the Germans, French and Italians all understood each other perfectly but none of the understood the British.
My main problem is the final series, it's clear they were running out of ideas by this time and series 9 was simply not as funny as the others. It may have been better simply to have a one off hour long special to round it off instead of the final series.
All 9 series are available on DVD (I admit I have the full set)
(I have a similar but shorter review on ciao under the same user name)
Summary: very funny well worth watching