The new likely lads...
Watch out! A wild, earthy bunch of likely lads are heading your way. They may not look too much like those original Likely Lads, Rodney Bewes and James Bolam, but they've been dreamed up by the same creators - Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.
And this time there are seven of them - a battling, boozing, bird-pulling gang of building site workers. They'll be invading your screens next year in a Central TV blockbuster series called Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
It follows the misadventures of the marauding seven as they invade the Fatherland in search of fun and fortune. Leading the charge on the unsuspecting Germans are three Geordie lads with accents as thick as the Tyne - Jimmy Nail, Tim Healy and Kevin Whately. They team up for four more ill-assorted blokes - TV wrestler Pat Roach, Gary Holton, an outrageous Cockney with blue flashes in his hair, Tim Spall and Christopher Fairbank.
La Frenais and CLement, who also brought us Porridge, are convinced that these boys will make a big impact on viewers. They could be right, for when the terrible seven aren't threatening a run on the German mark, they're leaving a trail of trouble behind them.
The year is 1980 - before the politicians got up to their beastly tricks and hammered the tax-free perks of workers abroad - and it's pretty strong stuff for a drama-cum-comedy show. Central TV even hired prostitutes and a brothel to give added authenticity!
Martin McKeand, the producer, deliberately set out to make his own stars with the series. With Jimmy Nail, who playes a character called Oz, he has undoubtedly struck gold. Nail is as tough as his name, a 6ft battling bruiser of a man who sports a smashed in nose and has lost many a tooth in real life brawls. Jimmy confesses: "Oz is something like I used to be, I've led a bit of a naughty life up to now. Oz is a hard man, a general ne'er-do-well. He's nothing like me now... unless I think back to last Tuesday..."
Jimmy, who once worked on a German building site for real, now lives in London with a girl called Miriam. And one of his best drinking pals off-screen is pop performer Gary Holton. They met while touring with different bands in Scandinavia when Jimmy was trying his hand as a singer.
Gary lives with Susan Harrison, the twin sister of Barry Sheene's girlfriend Stephanie McLean. Susan is expecting a baby next April, and Gary now claims that he's given up the high life. But he admits he enjoyed filming a near-the-mark love scene with actress Christina Garner for Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Gary says: "We were in a car - and boy, did those windows get steamed up!"
Article courtesy of, and my thanks to, Dave Robinson