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Zis is where fun is.

Listen very carefully. You must read this only once.

'Allo 'Allo is heading for the region later this week, courtesy of Tynemouth Priory Theatre.

One toupAe, a stuffed cockatoo, a sink plunger, a knockwurst sausage and a false nose with attached moustache ( just a selection of items needed by the theatre company for Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's live version of the TV sitcom.

'Allo 'Allo is commonly acknowledged to be a spoof of a very popular serious war drama on British TV in the early 1980s, Secret Army.

The comedy ran from 1982 for 10 years, a total of 85 episodes, and became the BBC's biggest-selling international sitcom, sold in more than 60 countries around the world.

Set in a cafe in occupied France, the main hero, albeit a reluctant hero, is Rene the cafe owner, who is also a coward and a collaborator ( the most wanted man in occupied France.

Women want his body. The Resistance wants his brain, and Grber wants his knockwurst sausage.

'Allo 'Allo on stage remains a quintessentially English piece of humour, as it is based on taking the mickey out of the French, the Germans, the upper-class English, and some Italians.

All the favourite characters are back again ( Rene's nagging, shrewish wife, Edith; the local Gestapo officer with the regulation limp, Herr Flick; along with his favourite obsession, Helga, the commandant's secretary, a blonde, blue-eyed German frau of the first order.

And let's not forget the two upper-class twit RAF pilots, Michelle the resistance leader in her famous trench coat and beret, whose catchphrase "Listen very carefully, I shall say zis ernly once" has passed into daily usage, and "Zat stupid twit", another British secret agent, sent over to pose as the local policeman, with French so bad that his phrase "God Moaning" can still be heard often today.

Show director Alan McKinlay, says: "The company are all losing weight with the frantic pace needed in this farce.

"As with the TV script, all the different languages required are portrayed by affecting a silly accent, `Tally ho, cheps, soon have you back with the gels in Blighty' sort of thing.

"It has been one of the funniest rehearsal periods I've ever directed. The difference in live theatre is that when the curtain goes up the first `take' lasts an hour and we can't do retakes as you could on TV should we fluff a line or a door handle comes off in our hands."

Although the characters are well known the stage version is a new script and not being restricted by the 30-minute slot required for TV, the creators have been able to devise a much more frantic and interesting scenario.

The show still contains the double entendres without which no production would be complete. The show runs from Saturday to June 12, curtain up 7.30pm. For tickets at pounds 6 call (0191) 292 9292. This is an answer-phone service. All calls will be returned.

GORDON BARR
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2004
Words:496
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