'Allo, Allo' to invade German screens

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They may have claimed they were "only obeying orders", but for 26 years the Germans refused to screen the famous BBC comedy series Allo Allo because of fears that the Second World War sitcom set in Nazi-occupied France might not go down too well with older viewers.

But yesterday, stiff Teutonic resistance to the programme finally collapsed after a German television channel announced that it had bought all 85 episodes of the BBC series and planned to screen them for the first time later this year.

"We don't think Allo Allo will offend German viewers – at least we hope not," said a spokeswoman for the private television channel ProSieben Sat 1. "Our aim is to make audiences laugh."

Allo Allo pokes fun at the Gestapo, the French Resistance and the British. It portrays German soldiers as accident-prone buffoons and shows them in farcical pursuit of a painting called The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies.

One of the comedy's key figures is the French café owner Rene Artois, played by the British actor Gordon Kaye. Kaye revealed yesterday that German television executives had shown an interest in the series in the 1980s, but were reluctant to run it.

He said: "Five or six German broadcasting people came and saw the series. They were wiping tears from their eyes. They thought it was hilarious. But they knew they couldn't buy it because they'd be sacked."

One of the biggest difficulties Allo Allo faces in Germany is translating its dialogue. The comedy is famous for mangling language and has a British agent called Crabtree repeating "Good moaning" to show that his French is appalling. ProSiebenSat1 did not reveal whether the firm now busily dubbing the series was planning an equally mispronounced Guten Moagen.