Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Another Decade Another Hit, Pet; in the Final Part of Our Celebration of the Pair Behind Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Entertainment Editor GORDON BARR Looks at Another of Their Smash-Hit Shows

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Another Decade Another Hit, Pet; in the Final Part of Our Celebration of the Pair Behind Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Entertainment Editor GORDON BARR Looks at Another of Their Smash-Hit Shows

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON BARR

WHILE Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads will be 40 years old this year, another mega-hit for its writers also reaches a landmark in 2013.

This autumn it will be 30 years since a certain TV series about a group of mainly Geordie brickies working in Germany first landed on our telly screens.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was the series that turned Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately, Tim Healy and Timothy Spall into household names.

It remains one of the biggest success stories for its writers, Monkseaton-born Ian La Frenais and pal Dick Clement, who also penned The Likely Lads.

"Pet was intentional to take a flyer with the casting as it was something very North Eastern and it was going to be about very gritty, building/construction guys," recalls Ian from his home in Los Angeles.

"We had to have someone who looked like they could be a bricklayer, not just someone form the Royal Shakespeare Company who was brilliant.

"Although, having said that, the likes of Kevin and Tim had already started getting work and were beginning to be noticed.

"But Pet, I suppose, did put them in the public consciousness.

"The big flyer we took was Jimmy, obviously. "They cast in the North East and the producer said 'We've found this chap. We're really very unsure about him, but we're bringing him to London'.

"Dick saw Jimmy and he turned to me and said 'Let him be able to act just a little bit'."

Dick tells me: "I looked at him across the room and he was just exactly the way I had seen Oz in my mind."

Ian takes up the story.

"They came down to do readings in a church hall near the Edgware Road and we had a PA, Hazell, who was in the reception area.

"She came in and said to the producer 'There's a very unpleasant man who says he's here for the audition'. That was Jimmy," Ian says laughing. …

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