The painting was a running joke in the 1980s sitcom. Set in a small-town café in Nouvion in German-occupied France during the Second World War, the series ran from 1982-92. The ‘local treasure’ portrait, by fictional painter van Klomp, become a staple prop throughout the series that protagonists were trying to move, steal or hide, and was often concealed in a knackwurst sausage.
The BBC series featured the storyline that forgeries of the painting were made to confuse the Nazis, who were trying to steal it, and numerous copies were made during production, many of which were destroyed or damaged during filming.
A version of the painting was presented to the Marquess of Bath by the BBC for his help with an event relating to the series and it has been on show at Longleat House in Wiltshire. But East Bristol Auctions’ auctioneer Andrew Stowe said that although several portraits were made, this version being offered is the only one to survive all nine series of the sitcom.
It previously belonged to production designer Shaun Moore, who was presented with it by crew as a souvenir. He auctioned the painting for charity in 2007 for around £4000 and it has been in private hands since then.
Stowe said: “TV memorabilia is huge at the moment. ‘Allo ‘Allo is so well loved – I don’t think there is another British sitcom that carried so many catchphrases, and everyone knows them. I can’t think of a more iconic piece of artwork from a British television show – it’s a true classic.”
He said this version of the painting was last seen in the final episode in 1992, A Winkle In Time. The episode reveals the portrait is re-discovered in the arm of a statue outside Café Rene, having been repaired after a ‘booby’ was removed in a previous series. Stowe believes this painting to be the exact prop used as it features a repair identical to that seen during the episode.
It is in a production-made frame and features various prop newspaper cuttings to the reverse. It will be offered at East Bristol Auctions’ Entertainment Memorabilia Auction on December 1 and can be viewed at thesaleroom.com.