Not so Secret
‘Allo ‘Allo was partly inspired but the BBC drama Secret Army that ran for three series from 1977-1979. This too was set in a café with owner Bernard Hepton’s Albert heavily involved with the Resistance (‘Lifeline’). The café set looked remarkably similar and Michelle of the Resistance was commonly dressed in the trench-coat and beret associated with Jan Francis’ character.
The show cleverly played with the use of accents, with the French speaking English with a French accent, the airmen speaking frightfully posh. But the piece de Resistance (sorry) was the poor French of Englishman Crabtree (disguised as a gendarme) who would mispronounce words with much hilarity. ‘Good Moaning!’ became an instant catchphrase.
"As you remember..."
Unlike the majority of sitcoms, ‘Allo Allo often carried plots over a number of episodes. To get the audience up to speed, Gordon Kaye as René would often open the show with a piece to camera, often beginning with the words "As you remember..."
Put to the death
In one episode Rene is put to death, but luckily dummy bullets end up in the German soldier’s guns. To escape a further capture, he poses as his twin brother, confusingly/handily also called René!
On 25 January 1990, Gorden Kaye suffered life-threatening head injuries in a car crash during a storm. Luckily, he survived in record time, with filming on the seventh series delayed mere months.
Despite the dodgy accents and the portrayal of the French and the Germans (not to mention the subject matter!) the series has been screened in both France and Germany. Perhaps it’s because every nationality is portrayed as an idiot, with no one gaining the upper hand.
Unlucky for some?
In 2004, 'Allo 'Allo came 13th in the search to find Britain's Best Sitcom. The series also spawned a hit stage show, a book (The Complete War Diaries of René Artois) and a reunion special, broadcast in 2007.
The Fallen Madonna
The plot often involved the portrait of The Fallen Madonna (With The Big Boobies) by Van Klomp, with it often being smuggled in giant sausages. At one point there were three copies leading Herr Flick to famously exclaim "I have three paintings with six big boobies!"