Why Auf Wiedersehen Pet Is The Best TV Show In History

You can shove The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, for me the greatest series to ever hit TV is about seven tooled-up reprobates...
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You can shove The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, for me the greatest series to ever hit TV is about seven tooled-up reprobates...

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The Magnificent Seven...

Some blokes have an unhealthy interest in chat rooms, others get their kicks from poncing about in the gym.

My strange little obsession concerns the trials and tribulations of a tooled-up gang of reprobates I first encountered at the fag end of 1983.

Sounds a bit creepy, I know, but for me, the magnificent seven of Wayne, Oz, Den, Nev, Bomb, Mox and Barry produced such a work of genius, nothing has come close before or since. Cast aside overrated Yankee trash like The Wire and its ilk, the first two series of AWP – 26 wunderbar episodes in all – is as near to perfection as you’re ever likely to get.

Unforgettable characters, top-notch writing, the theme tune: everything gels to the point where, nearly 30 years later, I still can’t get enough.

However, there are one or two snags with this old obsession of mine. Firstly, I need a regular fix. I don’t climb the walls or anything like that - I leave all that nonsense to the weak-willed. It’s just I develop the odd tic ‘n twitch in the style of Michael J Fox. Once a year, therefore, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I need to whip out the DVD’s and fill me boots.

The second snag is far more worrying, and one in which I’m convinced is the reason my O’ Level results were so derisory and my ‘career’ thereafter cripplingly abysmal.

My little brain is absolutely chock-a-block with seemingly infinite pages and pages of ‘Pet dialogue. I can recite whole scenes verbatim, I know what’s coming next, I know....way, way, way too much. Is it really necessary to remember the colour of Den’s skids when he’s queuing to have a swill at the B&B, or the name of Mrs Bellamy’s Golden Retriever?

If only I had transferred this herculean memory recital to my O’ Levels I’d have undoubtedly been hailed as, er ‘one of the finest minds of his generation’.

Furthermore, being a self-styled prince of AWP trivia is probably the reason my memory is a decaying mess - either that or I’m the victim of early doors Alzheimer’s. Important shit like when I’ve got a particular appointment, when the next bill is due, anniversaries and so on, I haven’t the foggiest. Ask me what I did yesterday and it’ll be a struggle to remember. But when it comes to knowing the reg number of Wayne’s BMW I’ll give you the answer quick as a flash. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Me too, funnily enough.

My little pilgrimage is all about visiting The Windmill Inn in Nottinghamshire, aka The Barley Mow, in the vain hope they have a jukebox with one particular song on it.

In addition, I’ve now managed to expand the old repertoire. During the most recent ‘Pet party – one which I cordially invited ‘er indoors to, she declared mid-scene: ‘Oh my God, he even knows the hand movements!’ Just the odd on or two, mind.

As we're fast approaching a whopping 30 years since the first episode, my daily conversation remains littered with words and phrases from the series.

Most often used is Wayne's 'What's the word then?' I still refer to our little German friends as 'Erics' and, when I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, I'll chirp up: 'Howay kettle!'

For me at least, it was auf wiedersehen to Auf Wiedersehen in 1985. The death of the wonderful Gary Holton, bless him, put a right dampener on proceedings. Hence, when the series made a return years later, I made a point of washin’ me barnet.

The new faces had become household names, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s household names.

Jimmy Nail had transformed himself into a tee-totalling egomaniac, Fatty Spall was psyching himself up to be the voice of Wickes, Pat Roach was succumbing to the Big Casino, Little Timmy Healy was married to that doddery old lush from ‘Loose Women’ and Kevin Whately continued to con Equity that he’s an actor.

Things were never the same again. But thanks for the memories lads, you were glorious.

Some people wanna mince about in a Memphis mansion, others piss about in Pere Lachaise.

My little pilgrimage is all about visiting The Windmill Inn in Nottinghamshire, aka The Barley Mow, in the vain hope they have a jukebox with one particular song on it.

But maybe some things are best left in the past. After all, when it comes to giving jukeboxes a proper shoeing, no-one could rival good old Oz.

Whay aye.

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