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Dredge your memory banks for a Geordie dictionary, then tune in to see what the old gang are getting up to in Cuba, and if you need to remember more about the original series, then let us help translate. If you prefer a Welsh flavour, then take a peek at the Welsh involvement in the American Civil War, or tackle some more up to the moment issues with Mai Davies, and if it's all too much, just pop into the health centre.

AUF WIEDERSEHEN, PetBBC1, Sunday at 9pm

THEY'RE back pet, and this time they're going to Cooba. I mean, Cuba.

Yes, the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet lads have been brought back by the Beeb for a new series. In this Britannia Waives the Rules take on the old formula, Oz (Jimmy Nail), Dennis (Tim Healy), Neville (Kevin Whately), Barry (Timothy Spall), Moxey (Christopher Fairbank), Bomber (Pat Roach) and Wyman (Noel Clarke) go to the Cuban capital, Havana, to drink rum, smoke cigars, dance the rumba and live La Vida Dulce!

To celebrate the boys' return we've compiled 20 things you never knew about the classic show which first aired on ITV.

1. Willy Russell was the first writer approached by Franc with his idea for the series but he wasn't enamoured enough to pick it up.

2. Pat Roach auditioned for the role of Darth Vader in 1976 but was beaten to it by David Prowse.

3. Jimmy Nail's girlfriend, Miriam (now his wife), heard about the auditions and suggested that he try out to be an extra.

4. At that point, Jimmy was in a band called The Crabs and he used to perform in a dress and hob-nailed boots.

5. When the first series transmitted, some viewers complained that they couldn't understand what Jimmy was saying. 'Neither could I and I wrote the bloody thing,' jokes Dick Clement.

6. Timothy Spall (Barry) was the first of the seven to be cast.

7. Kevin Whately was filming Shackleton in Greenland when the producers held their screen tests, so he almost wasn't considered for the series.

8. Gary Holton was spotted by Ian La Frenais at a children's birthday party.

9. Neville's wife, Brenda, is the only female character to have appeared in every series.

10. The first locations were in Hamburg, where a suitable building site had been found for exteriors.

11. The exterior was re-created brick by brick in Elstree studios for the interior shoot.

12. All the bricks had to be imported from Germany because German bricks differ from their English counterparts. A German portable loo was imported, too!

13. Before shooting in the UK began, the cast were sent on a practical bricklaying course.

14. Whilst at Elstree, Pat Roach combined filming Auf Wiedersehen, Pet with his appearance in Bond Film Never Say Never Again, which involved a lengthy fight scene with Sean Connery.The film was shooting on a different Elstree lot.

15. Four of the cast became first-time dads during or shortly after the filming of series one.

16. The first ever episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet transmitted on Friday, November 11, 1983 at 9pm on ITV; 10,806,000 viewers tuned in.

17. Tim Healy's wife, Denise Welch, makes an appearance in series two as the woman living in the flat that used to be home to Oz's wife, Marjorie.

18. Series two started transmission on Friday 21 February 1986 at 9pm with 15,392,000 viewers.

19. The highest recorded audience for any series was 16,017,000 for episode eight of series two, in which Oz returns to Newcastle to stop his son moving to Italy.

20. For series three, Middlesbrough Council had to issue a Press release assuring the town's inhabitants that the Bridge wasn't actually being moved. One couple reportedly travelled from Portsmouth for one last look at the Bridge.

VICTORIA'S BIG FAT DOCUMENTARYBBC1, Friday at 8.30pm

Victoria says she's started enough diets to know the 'buzz' you get from measuring out a cup full of oatflakes plus half a dried apricot, but she says she finds the whole thing madness.

She interviews a few hefty celebs and quizzes them on their battles with weight. Can't wait for the Ann Widdecombe and Vanessa Feltz interviews.

CYMRY RHYFEL CARTREF AMERICAS4C, Tuesday at 9pm (English subtitles available on Teletext 888)

Did you know that between 6,000 and 8,000 Welsh-speaking soldiers served in the American Union army during the American Civil War? A new three-part documentary series reveals unexpected secrets about the Welsh who fought in the war. Series presenter Dr Jerry Hunter discovered a collection of letters and personal diaries that had lain undisturbed for over 100 years at the University of Wales, Bangor. He knew right away that their contents would bring to light invaluable information about a period that has been, until now, a mystery in Welsh American history.

ON THE EDGEITV1 Wales, Thursday at 11.30pm

Mai Davies, presenter of Wales This Week, will host a new, innovative late-night current affairs show to rival Newsnight. The series of six hour-long programmes will be a mix of short films, interviews and debates on matters of vital interest to people living in Wales.

Mai Davies said, 'Thousands of people in Wales live on the edge, I'm looking forward to finding out why and how they cope. They are fascinating stories and I'm looking forward to travelling through Wales to meet the people involved. I'll be putting their questions to the people who matter, to get the answers they need.'

AT THE DOCTOR'SITV1 Wales, Friday at 11pm

In the second programme of this fly-on-the-wall documentary series, both the patients and the doctors are having a hard time.

The three GPs at Rhymney Health Centre - Dr Alan Evans, Dr George Skea and Dr Sheena Thomas - are battling with the patients as well as each other. Dr Sheena Thomas is the latest recruit. Having recently graduated, she's still getting used to life as a GP. But Dr George Skea has had enough and he's planning an escape. There's fireworks ahead - top telly!
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 3, 2004
Words:1012
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