The actors from legendary British sitcom 'Allo, 'Allo! meet with their Bulgarian fans

Photo: BGNES

One of the most successful British sitcoms of all time will return again in the Bulgarian national airplay for the 22nd time. The reason - the visit of the cast of the legendary series 'Allo, 'Allo! in Bulgaria at the 18th edition of Sofia International Film Festival. Although without everyone's favorite Rene played by Gordon Kay, last week Sofia welcomed six of the stars of the show - Guy Siner (Lieutenant Gruber), Richard Gibson (Herr Flick), Vicki Michelle (Yvette), Arthur Bostrom (officer Crabtree), Sue Hodge (Mimi) and Kim Hartman (Helga).

The idea for this visit more than 30 years after the release of the pilot episode of the series in Britain in 1982 belongs to prominent Bulgarian translator, journalist and poet Zlatna Kostova, for whom this was a long-standing dream. Apart from working on the nine seasons of the series (first shown on Bulgarian television in 2001), she also translated the novel "The Diaries of Rene Artois," and then the play 'Allo, 'Allo! which is still on the playbill of the Sofia-based theater "Vazrajdane". Created as a spoof of British wartime dramas, 'Allo, 'Allo! in which the action takes place in a French provincial town during World War II makes use of satire of national stereotypes and a prolific sense of humor that helps the characters cope with the illogical reality of war.

Yet it often seems few people appreciate the role of the translator in working on such a product - the better it is, the more invisible it remains to the viewers, to whom the abundance of puns and witty expressions seems perfectly effortless. Behind the 30-minute portions of laughter in each of a total of 85 episodes of the series, however, lies hard work which has given birth to already well-known catchphrases like "Good moaning", "Listen carefully, I shall say this only once" and "Shut up, you silly old bat" (and their hilarious Bulgarian equivalents). Zlatna Kostova, who indisputably proves that there is no such thing as an untranslatable wordplay, defines the essence of British humor like this:

Photo: private library"British humor is always on the verge, on the border, it never slips into extremes. It could be black humor without becoming too gloomy, and it could be cheerful humor without going into the opposite direction and turning into kitsch. I think this refinement, this sophisticated movement on the edge between the various shades and the risk of vacillating from one extreme into the other, but never doing it, gives the true flavor of English humor."

The hall of "Lumiere" movie theater in Sofia on March 20 was too small to accommodate all those loyal fans of the series who had come to see the jubilee episode “The Return of 'Allo, 'Allo!” never shown in Bulgaria before and of course, to meet live with their idols, who spent a couple of hours answering the numerous excited questions of their admirers. What is the reason for the unfading popularity of the series for three decades now?

Photo:"Richard Gibson had a very good explanation, saying that it contains many foolish and ridiculous remarks and children enjoy this. Of course, different age groups are looking for different things, they read between the lines and have a different perspective on events. The humor, however, remains the same, and where the situations are silly and funny, everyone loves this. People relax while watching the show."

Surely 'Allo, 'Allo! would never have become such a hit in Bulgaria without the brilliant voice-over where five actors dub almost 30 different characters. The well-known voices belong to the much-loved Bulgarian actors Veneta Zyumbyuleva, Eva Demireva, Veselin Rankov, Stefan Dimitriev and Ivan Raikov, who also attended the emotional meetings in Sofia between the English actors and the audience.

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