In 1983, a TV show was shown on ITV, that could have been a huge hit or a ratings disaster. Thankfully for all involved, Auf Wiedersehen Pet was a huge hit for viewers and critics alike.
The UK in the late 1970's and early 1980's was a place of national strikes and huge unemployment, especially in places such as the North East. Franc Roddam the creator of the show, came up with the idea, when on returning to his home town of Norton, Stockton on Tees, found that many of his friends in the construction trade had gone to work in Germany.
Franc Roddam created the series, and worked with the brilliant writing team of Ian la Frenais and Dick Clement, who had also written for shows such as The Likely Lads and Porridge. Six episodes were written, and then the rest of the series was written around the characters, as we watched them fall in and out of love, get into fights and also find some of them back in the UK unexpectedly.
The series was a huge success, and not only down to the great writing and superb performances of the cast. The series made huge names out of Jimmy Nail, Tim Spall, Tim Healy, Kevin Whately, Pat Roach and Gary Holton.
Viewers were drawn to the reality of what they were seeing on screen, and because of what was happening at that time in the UK, it was almost like watching a documentary for many people. The series struck a chord, and still does almost 30 years on from when it was first shown on British TV.
The series revolved around a group of seven men. Four bricklayers, a carpenter, a plasterer and an electrician. The timing of the show was perfect, and to think that this type of show would be such a hit in this modern world we live in, probably not.
The series was shown on ITV from the 11th of November 1983, through to the 10th of February 1984. Viewing figures for the first series were an average of 10 million, but this would almost double for the second series when that was aired in 1986.
There were many comparisons made to this first series, with many commenting on how it was very much like watching a WW2 film, as the lads all lived in a blue wooden hut on site. This was what made the series real and gritty, and the writers and creator knew how to connect with the British public at a time when there was nothing to look forward to, except rising unemployment figures.
Want to know more about where Auf Wiedersehen, Pet? Lee runs the largest online Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fansite. You can find location pictures and videos, exclusive behind the scenes pictures of the making of the show, join the Forum and much more. aufwiedersehenpet.net