Auf Wiedersehen, Pet convention: fans celebrate show’s anniversary without Jimmy Nail
The Auf Wiedersehen, Pet fan convention wrapped up on Tyneside this past weekend, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the cult comedy drama.
Tim Healy and Kevin Whately, who played Dennis and Neville in the show, joined supporting cast members and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais at an event, dubbed the “Brickies Banquet”, in Gateshead.
However, fans who had paid £75 per ticket were left disappointed as the three other surviving members of the original “magnificent seven” [pictured] – Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall and Christopher Fairbank – failed to attend, appearing only in a pre-recorded video message.
Gary Holton, who played Wayne, died in 1985 during the filming of the second series, and Pat Roach, who played Bomber, died in 2004.
The event at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead on Saturday evening was the highlight of a weekend of events to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the comedy drama, first broadcast on 11 November 1983.
Earlier on Saturday, Healy and Whately were presented to the crowd at St. James’ Park before Newcastle’s home match against Hull City.
Although most fans who attended the “Brickies Banquet” clearly enjoyed the convention, some queried why 60% of the surviving original main cast did not show up.
One member of the official forum, known as ‘Alreet Pal’, wrote: “I did expect more of the cast to attend.”
Another fan, Karl Harris, told Giggle Beats: “It surprised me that there weren’t more people involved, especially with it being a one-off event.
“It makes you wonder where the other main characters were; they might be tied up with other work.”
Healy, Whately, Clement and La Frenais were joined by several supporting cast members, including Julie Tobin, Lesley St John, Melanie Hill, and Jimmy Nail’s real-life sister, Val McLane.
Stan Hey, who wrote two episodes in the first series, was also in attendance.
Clement and La Frenais were presented with the “Outstanding Contribution to Comedy and Drama Award” from the Royal Television Society for North East & The Borders’ chairman, former Tyne Tees executive, Graeme Thompson.
A handwritten copy of the script of the first ever episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet was auctioned to raise money for Sunday for Sammy, a charity established to support emerging talent in the North East of England.
Earlier in the day, Clement and La Frenais attended a Q&A session at the Tyneside Cinema, alongside director Roger Bamford, and series’ creator Frank Roddam.
Executive producer Alan McKeown, who was scheduled to attend the Q&A, was not on the panel.
The Q&A followed a screening of the series one episode “Private Lives”, in which Wayne and Barry flirt with some Swedish air hostesses, which was voted the fans’ favourite episode by visitors to the show’s official website and a regional newspaper.
Some fans, though, were disappointed that host Chris Phipps asked only two questions from the audience.
However, Karl Harris, who describes himself as a massive fan of the show, said that he managed to ask La Frenais his “burning question” in the bar afterwards.
Other fans were not as lucky.
Karl says that the event at the Tyneside Cinema was “definitely worth the tenner”.
He was surprised, though, to learn that the event was being recorded for a DVD release later this year, as that had not been mentioned when he had booked the tickets.
Praise for cast and crew
Despite the disappointment that more of the main cast were not present, fans were delighted at the cast and crew’s approachability.
Writing on the official forum, user ‘peng50’ explained that when a staff member queried when the cast would be finished signing autographs (hotel staff wanted to clean the room), Tim Healy responded: “We’ll be here as long as it takes for everyone to get the pictures and autographs they are after…
“That’s what we’re here for.”